Help with Bookcase design.

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Forum topic by MNbuzzdust posted 03-24-2009 10:00 AM 1303 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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99 posts in 3557 days

03-24-2009 10:00 AM

Hi everyone.
This is my first offical post here. I have experience with metal work and some construction carpentry but not much with making furniture but I really want to learn…. I could use some advice on making some Barrister bookcases.
1. I was thinking of making them in individual boxes and stacking them 4 high. I wanted to use 1X12 pine boards about 3 ft wide. I have seen some that have a funny bottom where there are 2 peices on the bottom with a gap in between which fits into a single board below it. Is there an advantage to this over my idea of just using a single piece of 1×12 for the bottoms (other than the non slide effect of the 3 piece bottom). I want the strongest bottoms so that the weight of the books doesnt warp the bottoms downward like some shelves do overtime??
2. I am not quite sure how the pivot dowel system works for the doors. Does anyone have detailed photos of how the dowel or whatever is used is mounted to the door itself??
Hopefully someday I can contribute back as well.

4 replies so far

View jeh412's profile


129 posts in 3580 days

#1 posted 03-24-2009 12:06 PM

The only real advantage to the bottom you describe is that it locks the sections together, as you already figured.

A three foot width using doubled pine boards should be strong enough that you don’t have to worry about bowing.

If you Google “barrister bookcase plans” you’ll find plans and a few pages that outline the pin system. I’d suggest buying a plan for that part alone, since the measurements and pin placement are critical for the doors to be able to open and close smoothly.

-- John, co-owner Sawdust 'n Stitches

View robdew's profile


86 posts in 3919 days

#2 posted 03-24-2009 04:02 PM

Not sure about the dowels, but 1×12 boards 36” wide will probably sag on an average load of books without support. At least according to the Bookcases book I have read.

If you want unsupported shelves 36” wide you need either a front or back brace, or laminate some plywood (2 half-inch board for instance) and trim them to cover the edge.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1602 posts in 3763 days

#3 posted 05-05-2009 07:52 AM

Norm built some nice, modular barrister bookcases several years ago that were very nice. I think or has some Craftsman style barrister bookcases, but I think I remember not quite liking the way they look. Norm’s plan has the info for the door mechanism too.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View MNbuzzdust's profile


99 posts in 3557 days

#4 posted 05-05-2009 08:15 AM

Thanks for the info…...I got it figured out awhile back though.

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