Thumb Book Holder

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A thumb book holder is a fun little project for anyone that enjoys reading. It slips over the thumb, and allows a book to be held open in one hand. In this tutorial, I will show you exactly how to make it. Enjoy.

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Thumb Book Holder

thumb book holder

A thumb book holder is a project made from a single piece of wood. You use the item to hold books/documents in one hand, and the page holder keeps the book open.

You can hold it with one hand, and it fits nearly anyone. It’s also really easy to make, and is a fun woodworking project.

This can be used as a page holder for a novel, a cookbook holder, or any time you need to hold a book with one hand. It looks great on a reading desk, and can be a portable alternative to a book rest or reading book stand.

Make this from an interesting species of wood to compliment the simple design, and this can make a very nice gift. It can hold small books, large books, light or heavy books too.

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In this case, I made my thumb book holder from Curly Maple. It’s four inches wide and two inches tall. The thumb hole is one inch in diameter.

Book Holder Tutorial

thumb book holderStart with a piece of 4/4 wood that is at least four inches wide and two inches tall.

Draw a vertical line through the middle, and mark a point one inch from the bottom.

This is where the thumb opening will be drilled.

Make sure to pick out a great looking piece of wood for this project. Since the project is only one piece of wood, the wood is the star. Take the time to find a nice looking piece, and you will be happy you did.

thumb book holderFor most people, a one inch opening is perfect size for the thumb. If you are worried about it, drill a few holes in a scrap and see what fits the best.

If you are giving this as a gift, use the standard one inch hole just in case they let someone else use it, or their fingers are not the same size as yours.

Next, drill the hole for the thumb. Use a drill press if possible, and a scrap underneath to protect from blow out.

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thumb book holderNow, draw out the basic shape of the thumb book holder.

I made the left and right ends a little less than 1/4″ thick, and used a roll of masking tape to trace an even curve on all four sides.

It’s important that the shape gracefully curve from the center to the wings. The pointed parts dive into the spine of the book, so those are important too.

The overall size is a few inches wide to four inches wide. It’s your call, and bigger holders spread the pages a little better.

Shaping the Thumb Book Holder

thumb book holderOnce the lines are in place, cut the shape out with a band saw or a coping saw.

Cut just outside the lines. This will give you a little extra room for sanding and shaping.

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Get as close as you can without going over, and work slowly and carefully. It’s not a race. Just remove as much material as you can, because it will make the sanding process a lot easier.

Anything you don’t cut off, you will have to sand, so make sure you remove all you can up to the lines.

thumb book holderAfter that, sand the freshly cut areas on a belt sander if possible to smooth out the marks from the saw.

Once satisfied, move on to sanding by hand to remove all the scratches.

Use 150 grit paper to get through the rough areas and smooth it all out. If you are sanding by hand, a rounded block is a huge help.

Keep on working until you remove all of the scratches, and don’t stop until the big scratches are gone.

thumb book holderThen, use finer sandpaper like 220 grit for final sanding.

This involves breaking off the sharp corners, and sanding inside the thumb hole.

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Go over the entire piece and make sure that everything is very smooth. Don’t skip on this part of the tutorial.

You can have this page holder for a long time, so don’t doom it to a life of looking shabby by not sanding off all of the scratches.

A wooden thumb book holder is a fun, eco friendly project to make, and when a nice finish is applied, it looks amazing. Select a nice piece of wood and a traditional oil finish for this project and you will love the results.

thumb book holderFinally, finish the thumb book holder with an oil finish. This can be Tru-Oil, Danish Oil, or Tried and True. For this project, I used Tried and True Danish Oil.

My article on Finishing with Tried and True Danish Oil explains the finishing process, and it is very easy to follow.

I like this finish because it is natural, easy to work with, and leaves a nice satin glow to the piece. The look is more traditional, and handmade.

If you want to learn more about finishing, my 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing is a free PDF that explains how to use hand applied finishes. There is no fancy equipment to buy, and anyone can learn how to apply a great finish.

thumb book holderHere is how it came out after the finish was applied.

I like how the oil finish makes the Curly Maple figure come alive.

It is a simple wood with a beautiful look.

Allow the piece to dry according to the directions on the finish you are using, then give this as a nice gift or enjoy it yourself.

One Handed Book Holder Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started using your one handed thumb holder:

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  • This can also be used as a document holder if you have center bound documents to read.
  • One handed reading frees up your other hand to do things while you continue to read.
  • This will not replace reading stands for holding books while you are away from them.
  • If you have a cookbook stand, and a cook book that you like to use, it’s better to leave it on the stand than to try and one hand it while cooking.
  • Just in case you were wondering, this is not for your tablet or e-reader.

Buffing the Holder to a High Sheen

Finally, if you want a glossier finish, use a buffing wheel.  I use the Beall Wood Buff System

in my shop, and had I know how nice it was I would have bought it a long time ago.

Buff the piece with Tripoli, then use the White Diamond compound. Then, buff with Carnauba Wax for a little more shine. Finally, inspect the piece for an even sheen, and touch up any spots that need it.

What small projects do you like to make? Share with us by leaving a comment.

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