Wright-Style Print Stand

Another view of the print stand.

Another view of the print stand.

For the last seven years, every time I opened the book “In the Arts & Crafts Style” it fell open to the same page. There, perched on a broad-armed settle, is a print stand that was originally designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908 but never built during his lifetime.

The print stand shown in the book was built in 1990 by a company owned by Thomas A. Heinz, a Chicago-area architect and the author of more than 15 books about Wright. Apparently Wright designed the stand to display Asian prints, of which he was an avid collector. However, the stand in the book displays only a single rose, no prints. Even stranger, over the years I’ve noticed this design appear in several different forms. In one, the proportions of the stand have been altered and the space above the spindles houses an 8 x 10 photo. Other companies have built the stand in a much bigger form and turned it into a floor lamp.

As I set out to build my own version, I wanted it to look as “Wrightian” as possible, and be functional as a print stand. So I added the stubby stops on the table to prevent prints from sliding off the stand. I also made the top cap (above the spindles) a little longer to lock into the mitered frame. Finally, I pushed the legs out toward the edges of the table just a bit. The first prototype I mocked up seemed a bit wobbly to me.

I used a miter saw and stops to cut the miters for the frame. First I cut the miters on the short ends on the left side of the blade.

I used a miter saw and stops to cut the miters for the frame. First I cut the miters on the short ends on the left side of the blade.

You can build this print stand using thin pieces, shorts and offcuts that are hiding in your scrap pile. And here’s the amusing part. Versions of this project sell for about $500 these days. Some days it feels great to be a woodworker.

Build the Mitered Frame
All of the parts of this project are wedged inside the mitered frame, so the frame is a good place to begin construction. Cut your pieces to rough size and then head to your miter saw or table saw.

If you’re new to cutting miters, here’s a piece of good advice: let geometry be your guide. Most beginning woodworkers will cut the first miter with their saw or miter gauge set 45° in one direction, and then turn the gauge or saw to 45° the other way to cut the adjoining miters. This is a mistake.

Then I cut the miters on the long pieces on the right side of the blade. The result? Tight miters.

Then I cut the miters on the long pieces on the right side of the blade. The result? Tight miters.

Your equipment probably isn’t precise enough. You’ll end up sanding your miters to fit, cutting them over and over or learning to live with your mistakes. Instead, let complementary angles help you out. Set your miter gauge or saw to 45° and cut one-half of the joint on the left side of the blade and one-half on the right side of the blade. If you are off by a degree or so it won’t matter because the piece cut on the other side of the blade will cancel out the error. (If you do this with your table saw’s miter gauge, you’re going to need to screw a long accessory wooden fence to your gauge.) When your miters are complete, cut biscuit slots, dowel holes or a spline to reinforce these joints. Glue the frame together using a band clamp or miter clamps.

COMMENT