Barrister Abomination #1: Getting started, not sure where I'm going

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Blog entry by BeachedBones posted 06-15-2009 04:55 AM 1450 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Barrister Abomination series Part 2: Top cap »

I’m working at making something of a couple damaged and mismatched sections of barrister bookcase. The two sections are basically surplus from the “good” cases I have. These didn’t fit, one section was badly fire damaged and oddly repaired at one point. I thought I could make it a little better and more useful.

This picture shows the fire damaged section, the side had been planed down in an uneven taper, about 1/4 inch or more was taken out of the original oak. The oak strip on the top front of the case is supposed to be on the bottom of the case, there are also extra cross pieces. I assume these were to flatten and strengthen the case.

Here is the delicate process of disassembling the 100 year old case. I was very unsure this was the best thing to do, but it couldn’t really work as it was, and there’s no was I could pay a professional to restore it. It was nice that I was able to take a lot of pictures and measurements to use to build replacement parts and maybe more bookcases in the future.

I took this old shelf that could have been anywhere from 30-50 years old. The Oak matched nice enough and was aged and dry like the bookcase. I though the wood would be the best match I could hope to find so I cut it down and made the replacement side panel from it.

Now I have the section reassembled, I debated staining/ finishing the panel first, but I found in the dissassembly that the finish to the existing case was done after it was all assembled so I though I’d keep with that.

I built a base for the bookcase from some salvaged oak that I’d had waiting for a projects. I based the design off one of the bottom sections I have on a “good” case.

Here’s how it looks now

I’d appreciate any suggestions on finishing you guys would have, I’m not sure how to best match the existing finish. I only want to refinish the repair and new sections and save as much original finish as possible.

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

5 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 06-15-2009 06:43 AM

hope it comes together well for you.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3678 days

#2 posted 06-15-2009 04:27 PM

You’ve done a nice restoration. Not to certain why you want to save the old finish, theres a good chance that its shellac which could be replaced easily without any destruction of the under lying wood. Its possible that the wood is not stained but has gotten its color from the finish

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3526 days

#3 posted 06-15-2009 06:24 PM

What’s with the dog nose?? ;)

-- Joe

View BeachedBones's profile


201 posts in 3367 days

#4 posted 06-15-2009 07:38 PM

As far as the old finish goes, I love the look and authenticity of antiques. The finish is over 100 years old, I would find it… disrespectful of the piece to refinish it. Plus it matches other cases I have. I was guessing it’s probably coated in shellac, probably just that on the interior, the exterior is definatly stained with something. I’ll have to experiment and look around to find a closely matching colour.

The dog’s (Schatzi) nose looks cool eh? Like some kind of ghost dog. Every time my attention is on something, specially if it’s new or changed, my dogs have got to run in to sniff it. Seems she got in and out of the shot during the exposure time.

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

View Scarcraig01's profile


72 posts in 3159 days

#5 posted 09-01-2009 09:14 PM

Very cool post, I have a thing for barristers as well, lets keep in touch.

-- Craig, Springfield Ohio

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