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
  • $90.00

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
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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.