Barrister’s Bookcase

Marc Spagnuolo

A barrister's bookcase is a classic design originally design to house volumes of books for barristers (lawyers). But you don't have to be a lawyer to incorporate this design into your home. The cases are modular and can be stacked in any number and any orientation to suit your space and tastes. The glass doors allow you to see the contents while also protecting your precious books, DVDs and/or collectibles.

The dimensions of the bookcase (stacked three high) are: 34” Wide x 16” High (12 1/2” interior) x 15” Depth (14” interior)

  • 11 lessons
  • 110 min
  • $79.00

Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Project Tour

    A full tour of the Barrister’s Bookcase with Q&A.

  2. Side Frames Part 1

    The frame parts and panels are milled and the joinery is cut.

  3. Side Frames Part 2

    The frames are assembled and finishing touches are added.

  4. Case Assembly

    The top and bottom strips are cut, dressed up, and attached to the side frames.

  5. Back Panels

    The back panel consists of two parts for a clever forward-thinking repair option.

  6. Doors

    These simple doors have a lot going on! Grooves, rabbets, pins, oh my!

  7. The Base

    The base features strong joinery and elegant styling.

  8. Locking Strips & False Bottoms

    The center locking strip is located and attached and the false bottoms are cut to size and dressed up.

  9. The Top

    The top of the bookcase is constructed from some beautiful solid walnut.

  10. Odds & Ends

    We still need to attach the rear top strip, attach the top, drill for magnets, finish our chamfers, and do the final sanding.

  11. Finish, Knobs, & Glass

    Applying Wipe-On Poly
    The finish is applied, rubbed out, and the knobs and glass are installed.

What You’ll Receive:

  • Detailed cut list and plans including a PDF and a SketchUp file (metric and imperial).
  • Hours of detailed video instruction (13 videos) showing every step of the build, from wood selection to finishing.
  • All videos and plans are digital and will be available for download upon purchase. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Wood selection
  • Frame and panel construction
  • How to execute solid mortise and tenon joints
  • How to execute tongue and groove joints
  • How to make tapers
  • How to install glass panels
  • How to construct an all wood hinge system
  • How to apply a wiping varnish finish

What You’ll Need:


  • Planer/Jointer (alternatives: purchase pre-milled lumber kits or use hand planes)
  • Tablesaw
  • Circular Saw
  • Dado Stack (for making tenons)
  • Router
  • Festool Domino (although I used this tool you can substitute dowels, biscuits, or pocket screws)
  • Bandsaw (alternative: Jigsaw)
  • Hollow Chisel Mortiser (alternative: router, which is discussed in the video)
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Miter Saw (alternatives: Cross-cut Sled or Miter Gauge at Table Saw)
  • Random Orbit Sander
  • Hand Tools – Chisels, Card or Cabinet Scraper, Router Plane, Shoulder Plane, Hand Plane, Block Plane
  • 18 gauge Brad Nailer





Fantastic plans and videos. Only real issue I ran into was something Marc warned about – some of my plywood dimensions were off from what they were sold as (1/4 inch ply was actually 3/16). Love the modular design and the accommodations made for potential glass breakage. I built a set of three and it came out looking great. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys the asthetics or functionality of this bookcase.

Michael Kern
Guild Member

Overall a fun project. The nice thing is that it is a large piece, but many of the components are repeated and so are the tool set ups. You can really spend your time getting one right, and the rest go fast. Plus you get lots of practice. It took me about three months of weekend work to get this completed, which is fast for me. It’s a good skill builder that is easy to do with just a few of the common power tools.

As always, the video instruction is very good.

Guild Member

My first Guild project, and a great choice. Everything was excellent, from the video, sound, instruction and plans. Highly recommended, and I look forward to my next build.

Guild Member
Read all reviews / Leave a review

About Your Instructor:

Marc is a podcaster, video producer, woodworking enthusiast, and author of Hybrid Woodworking and Essential Joinery. He has contributed articles and video content to, Popular Woodworking Magazine, WOOD Magazine, and Woodcraft Magazine. He is also the host of The Wood Whisperer, an instructional woodworking video series that’s been going strong since 2006. He is also one of the hosts of the Wood Talk podcast. He has taught classes at the William Ng School, Marc Adams School, Weekend with Wood, Fine Woodworking Live, as well as at various Rockler and Woodcraft stores. He also speaks periodically at woodworking events like AWFS and IWF.