Making a Reading Table – Addendum

Thanks to Gereon Lamers for pointing out I had omitted to address the final solution to the book stop dilemma which I wrote of in Making a Reading Table – Part Seven.

The book stop has three brass ‘pins’ screwed into its bottom face which engage a row of three brass sockets that I sunk into the reading slope close to the hinged edge. It fits snugly, requiring a reassuring degree of coaxing to remove.

Book stop attachment pins and sockets.

Coincidently, I see Christies are auctioning a similar “George II Mahogany adjusting reading table” with an identical book stop arrangement in their Decorative Arts Europe sale (sale 2350) on 21 – 22 October 2010 at Rockefeller Plaza, New York. The pre-sale estimate is USD$5,000 – $8,000.

The mahogany table up for auction has two additional rows of sockets, allowing for further adjustability.

George II mahogany reading table, circa 1760. (Christie’s)

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Tables and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Making a Reading Table – Addendum

  1. basilg says:


    A nice finish to a very well executed project.
    A dithering old galoot such as I would be likely to scratch the beautiful finish trying to get the pins into the sockets, & suffer a dressing down of major proportions, from SWMBO. Would it be appropriate to fix a small piece of baize or leather to the bottom of the pins ?

    If it is not being to presumptuous, I would very much like to see a post from you on the subject of distressing a reproduction piece, when to do it, tools to use, how much etc.

    Kind Regards


    • Jack Plane says:

      Thank you.

      The chances are that you’d only scratch the immediate area around the sockets with the book stop pins. The book stop itself is fairly broad and therefore should cover any scratches.

      I firmly believe though in using furniture for its intended purpose – as our forefathers did – and that scratches and bumps gained as part of daily usage should be worn with pride. The only real method of keeping this table pristine would have been to get it sprayed with one of those horrid modern lacquers, but then the table would look as if it were made of Formica.

      I try to make my posts interesting and most importantly, readable and I feel that too much detail only achieves the opposite effect. I’m also not happy discussing certain aspects of my finishing procedures as they involve some rather noxious and obnoxious chemicals which the average person would require considerable safety and application training in before being let loose on furniture with them. Apart from that, most of the chemicals I use are restricted or have limited usage and therefore wouldn’t be readily available. I will write it all down some day though.


  2. basilg says:


    Thanks for your response, I heartily agree on the use of lacquer, I generally use Shellac, wax, & oil, which In my opinion provide a finish that is more in tune with a nice piece of wood. Although these finishes need a bit more maintenance than lacquer, that is easily done, & enhances the piece over time.

    I understand your reluctance to go into print regarding the use of chemicals which may be dangerous, are these chemicals used on the wood or is this just the ” bucket of wrath ” ? In any event I was thinking more along the lines of your opinion & techniques re the use of implements to mark / bruise the wood.

    You are most certainly achieving your objective to make your posts interesting & understandable, I know I am among many who find them exactly that.



    • Jack Plane says:

      I apply most of the chemicals to the wood prior to, or in place of staining, but on occasions, there is one I use to age the finish itself.

      Distressing is as simple as sanding and only requires understanding of how scratches, bumps and wear occur on antique furniture. Keen observation of period pieces will assist in establishing wear patterns at different levels. For example, the front/sides of feet usually display heavy bumps from brooms, hard-soled footwear etc., but don’t display many fine scratches. Table tops, on the other hand, will display many fine scratches, the odd deep scratch and a few deep dings on the edges where the table has either been repeatedly shoved against a wall, collided with a door frame when being moved, or something has fallen against it.

      There is no one tool that I use to recreate these marks or wear; I simply use whatever I have lying around that will mimic the required marks. I have a thin, bendy six inch steel ruler for example, the corner of which is excellent for making fine table top scratches. The best course of action would be to make a series of marks in a breaker or other piece of furniture you don’t care much for and compare the results with what you are attempting to match. I can guarantee you won’t find a chain, sock full of nails, worn rasp, broken bottle, ice pick, re-ground screwdriver tip or any of the other old chestnuts to be of any use in creating a convincing ‘antique’ surface. Repetition will be your nemesis.


  3. basilg says:

    Thanks Jack I appreciate the advice.



I welcome your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s