Well-Read Architectural Bookends didn't work

My son (11) bought the Well-Read Architectural Bookends unlimited design from the catalog to make gifts for my wife’s new office. He was so excited to make them for her. He printed 1 in draftboard as a test and it went together beautifully. Then he printed one in medium maple and it didn’t fit together at all. The board was too thick for the design. He spent nearly an hour trying to gently tap the pieces in place with a rubber mallet but, the end result was that the thin spans snapped due to the pressure of trying to fit the board that was to thick into the spans. I inspected his work and after measuring the pieces there’s no way this design is going to work with any of the medium maple proofgrade we have on hand. My wife ordered a new batch over the weekend that will hopefully be closer to the 1/8" tolerance. The lesson here is to always remember to measure the thickness of the material, even the proofgrade stuff. Unfortunately, without the ability to modify the catalog designs, there’s no way to correct for this if the proofgrade material is out of spec.


Two things that might help…white wood glue will reattach the tabs. Use a clamp to hold it in place while it dries. (No need to waste material.)

And an emory board applied to the tabs before pounding them in will keep from splitting the slots in the base. They are fantastic for a little light sanding.

Humidity can cause things like plywood to swell, so I generally have to do some adjusting to purchased designs as well. It’s high humidity here all the time. :roll_eyes:

1 Like

I second these. My wife keeps buying them for me so I never run out.

She does keep leaving them in the bathroom though, not sure what’s up with that :yum:


Thanks Jules,
The board he used measures at .143". I’ve got 2 more maple plywood boards that measure at .141 and .144. I also have 2 walnut plywoods that measure at .126 and a cherry that measures at .125. All boards purchased around the same time and stored flat together in dry conditions. I’d have to remove the veneer on the maple to get it to come together with the purchased design. I’m not really bothered that it didn’t work out. It was a good lesson for my son to measure first. I’m mostly bugged that he can’t modify the design to work with the maple we have on hand. Hopefully the new stuff we ordered will be good to go. I’m going to write the thickness on the boards so I can track any changes from now on.

That is a little thicker than usual, although I’ve had it run up to 0.137". I think it swells in humidity though around here, and it doesn’t matter if it’s kept in an air conditioned house either. :roll_eyes:

Several customers (including myself) reported a thin veneer finish on a few of the batches a while back, they might be trying to correct for that now. Sounds like they’ll need to adjust the slot sizes in the designs and just make people use glue. I don’t know how else to make a design work for the variances that we see in materials.

(A very big reason to not offer designs to the catalog for sale, unfortunately.)

I think I just got a few sheets that were a bit out of spec. Not a big deal and definitely expected with wood. Hoping this thread will save someone else the trouble and remind everyone to measure first.

1 Like

In bending the 8 inch wide basswood it has to get very wet and reaches almost 9 inches wide while fully dried it might be less than 8 inches wide. This is the extreme case of course and I have lost hair trying to make things fit only to discover the size has changed.

I would second @Jules point about sanding and while you can buy emory boards I find that there are many sizes of scrap that work great with the size of the area I want to shape. The very thin plywoods are about the size of the gaps and it is somewhat easy to just sharpen the fingers a bit to make the starting easier but still tight at the finish

In addition every piece of wood cuts differently so the same laser cut will have more kerf or less kerf by any number of subtle factors.

1 Like

My son actually got about 2/3 of the way though with some sanding and tapping with a rubber mallet. Emery boards are a great suggestion as an alternative to paper. I think he spent a good hour trying to get it to work. By that time there was so much pressure the board with the slots was warping and basically popped apart at the corners of the slots. The draftboard test he did went together perfectly. The fit was just right. Took him about 15 minutes to assemble and glue the test. I’m skeptical this is a moisture issue otherwise I’d see expansion on the other woods and draftboard I have stored. 35% relative humidity at 75 degrees is pretty typical where I live, which is pretty dry. We already have new materials on the way so as long as they are consistent, we’re good to go. I just wish it were possible to tweak that design to make it work with what I have on hand. I get the sense my son will be very unlikely to purchase another design in the future with his own money, which is win as far as I’m concerned. I’d much rather he design his own stuff from scratch to build those skills. I think he’s mainly frustrated that he wasn’t able to complete his gifts in time for his mom to have them on day 1 of her new office.


They are more complex than most, but if I was in that situation I would have spent time re-creating the design to make whatever changes you wanted. You had a complete example in draftboard to measure from I would suspect that if you turned him loose on Inkscape he would be amazing you.

1 Like

He’s designed more complex things for sure. He’s an 11 year that writes android apps before school, built a 2W solidstate laser in his bedroom, and constructed a tesla coil at the age of 6. This was more a case of him wanting to get this done quickly over the weekend so he could give mom an office gift on Monday. He tends to just do things on his own.


@anticzcom thank you for providing you and your son’s observations of the Proofgrade materials you received. I’m sorry your son’s print didn’t come out as expected.

We’re looking into what you observed and I’ve passed this feedback along to the team. If you continue to run into difficulty with the new material, please reach out and let us know.