Barrister Bookcase

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Project by Gareth posted 02-21-2008 06:17 PM 2322 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was the first project I did after closing the bakery a couple of years ago.

There were some old pine shelves in the bakery. I estimate they were about 50yrs old. Although only pine, it is the real stuff, unlike what we get here today. I had the idea from the NYW, but did not use any of the fancy hardware that Norm uses. The up and over opening mechanism was simply achieved using dowels that run in a track cut into the sides of the cases. The piece is made in separate units, each individual section locating to the one below with dowels.
I finished the piece with linseed oil and wax. The second picture has the top door open.

The picture sitting on top is from a piece of display material that I had in one of my shops. It is from a very famous advert in the UK. The frame is beech that I recovered from an old bakery table.

Both serve as a nice momento from my 30 years in the bakery.

There have been several questions about the hinging mechanism, so I have attemted a couple of drawings to explain it. (just realised I can only add 1). A stopped dado is cut about an inch from the top of the side panel. The red dot represents a dowel upon which the door pivots (rides over). The positioning of the dado and dowel will be dependent upon the dimensions of the timber used in the door. A dowel is inserted near the top of the door on each end. The door is slid into the cabinet from the back, so this must be removable. When it reaches the end of the dado, it will drop down into the closed position.

Each unit, except the top one, consists of just a base and 2 sides. I attached the sides using stopped dados in the base. The base is an inch deeper than the sides. Two dowels are fixed into the top of each side and these locate into corresponding holes in the base of the unit above.

Having read what I have just written, it sound a bit muddled, but believe me, if I can do it, it must be quite easy.

-- Gareth, Amlwch

12 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3982 days

#1 posted 02-21-2008 06:19 PM

The first that came to mind when I saw that, was NYW.

Great job. You don’t need the hardware he used.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 02-21-2008 06:24 PM

This is a very nice piece of furniture. And their history adds a nice touch to the piece as well.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4155 days

#3 posted 02-21-2008 07:23 PM

Nice work on the case. Can you show us how your dowels work for the glass? I would like to make one, but not use the hardware either since it is so expensive.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4248 days

#4 posted 02-21-2008 09:55 PM

Nice case! I’ve always wanted one – my grandfather had a pair of them when I was growing up. Maybe it’s time I got off my duff and gave it a shot. I like your dowel method too – seems more “authentic” than some stuff that I’ve seen in other plans.

-- To do is to be

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#5 posted 02-21-2008 11:52 PM

I like it, and, having grown up in a 200 year old house with pine floorboards in upstate New York, yeah, a good solid pine isn’t the stuff you get in the lumber yards these days.

I too am interested in the details of the mechanism you made. We’re looking at making barrister’s bookcases for a wall here, because we hate dusting, and I’ve looked at various approaches for making my own slides. I’ve been edging towards routing an “L” groove in each side of the cabinet sides, and having dowels project. out the sides of the doors that ride in those “L”s, which I assume is what you’ve done. I figured holding the dowels in by routing grooves in the back of the door (maybe with a bullnose bit, maybe just with a straight bit) and screwing plates over the back of the groove to hold the dowels in place would make things removable, for the inevitable need to disassemble.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3868 days

#6 posted 02-22-2008 12:37 AM

I bought a cabinet with a similar design a few months ago, but it was made of particle board. This is a great design for a book cabinet. Do you have plans for it? Really nicely done.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Gareth's profile


11 posts in 3744 days

#7 posted 02-22-2008 12:47 AM

There have been a couple of questions about the door slide mechanism I used. Dan has the right idea. I will try and make a drawing and post it. ( drawing is not my strong point.

-- Gareth, Amlwch

View Gareth's profile


11 posts in 3744 days

#8 posted 02-22-2008 01:40 AM

I have now added a drawing and explanation of the hinging methods to the project page in response to the questions about it. Hope it helps

-- Gareth, Amlwch

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#9 posted 02-22-2008 04:22 AM

Oh, that makes sense (and looks pretty easy to implement…).

Thanks, Gareth!

Any issues with racking on the doors, or are you just careful when you open ‘em?

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4084 days

#10 posted 02-22-2008 04:28 AM

Very nice. I love this type of case. I want one. Antiques in oak sell for 500 and up here in California. I might build one some day though.

Thanks for the inspiration.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Gareth's profile


11 posts in 3744 days

#11 posted 02-22-2008 09:44 AM

Hi Dan,
No I have had np problem with racking of the doors. I can see why you ask, because they are made from a small section. I suppose the fact that the wood was so old ha helped. Also, it is very straight grained.

The only reason I am careful when openning is that the glass is only 2ml (picture frame glass). They are therefore quiite light and can be opened smoothly with one hand.

-- Gareth, Amlwch

View KDL's profile


36 posts in 3761 days

#12 posted 02-22-2008 04:24 PM

Nice cabinets. I like that the cabinets create their own trim effect when stacked—it’s understated but visible.

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