Four Decades on a Thumb: Old-Growth Page Holders

I was planing down a batch of thumb-ring page holders yesterday. That kind of repetitive work gives me time to reflect on the origins of the material I am using.  In this case, I was making the page holders out of some short pieces of old-growth pine that I had salvaged out of the garage of a long-deceased woodworker.  I have no idea how he came to own them, or what he intended to do with them.  After keeping these pieces of wood on my shelves for a few years, I decided to use one for page holders.

Thumb Ring Page Holder Old Growth Pine 2018

The grain of this wood is very fine, and the growth rings are tiny, in places over 30 rings per inch!

The boards were a little under 5 inches wide, but those few inches represent nearly 150 years of growth.  In contrast, most of the pine used for the 2X4s you get at home centers might have 3-12 growth rings per inch.  The old-growth pine, however, has grain lines so small they are sometimes difficult to see, let alone count.


Many of these page holders have over 40 growth rings apiece.  You can count about 19 rings on the top half of the page holder pictured above.  There are another 21 ounderneath.  That’s four decades on one thumb!

(And if you were wondering what a “thumb-ring page holder” is, well, now you know.  It reduces wrist strain when holding open a paperback book with your thumb, and I sell them for $5 apiece.)


I love the way these page holders display the growth rings prominently on their edges.  Because the grain is so fine, these page holders are incredibly smooth, too.

Wood like this doesn’t come around every day. I’m privileged to be able to work with these pieces.


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