Birth of the Book Mule

It all started with an auction and a memory. 

Rob’s workshop was cold. Winter was well on the way and paying for electric heat just didn’t make sense. His search for a small woodstove led to a local estate auction, a dangerous place to set him loose. You see, Rob is a consummate saver. Everything will surely come in handy some day. And that includes books. So it was no surprise that rainy day, when Rob came home not only with a perfect little Irish woodstove, but a dilapidated bookrack and all the books that once sat on its shelves. To get the rack, he had to buy the lot.

What was it about that rack?  It twigged a memory of his grandparents’ spare bedroom. There was a very cool 1930s fumed oak Arts and Crafts bookrack that sat at the side of a big chair. Rob loved the way the books sat at an angle and the rack was small enough to move around the room. A bit of research suggested that it was based on the Stickley 74 bookrack. You can still buy lovely contemporary copies of these, custom made fumed oak with through tenon joinery, six coats of hand rubbed varnish. But they were out of our budget. We have too many books.

Actually, we don’t. You can never have too many books. What is better than that old friend? Just a glance at the spine calls up memories of another world, other lives and times past and future. And besides, they are beautiful. Books are some of the most intensely designed objects anyone owns, yet we stash them away in boxes or on sagging particleboard shelves pinned to the wall.

So Rob set about designing a better bookrack. By combining some boat building and woodworking joints, he was able to completely do away with the need for fasteners (you know, that plastic bag that comes in that heavy box of build-it-yourself MDF bookcases, the bag that is usually missing at least one part). He adapted the concept to work with light, strong and environmentally sound materials, filled the house with prototypes and the Book Mule was born.


Share this post