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Hand-Crafted Bookcase

Christopher Schwarz and his hand-crafted bookcase

My background is mostly based in family run businesses that depend on woodworking to put food on the table and keep the lights on. Because of this, I learned to make furniture with power tools.

During my first week at Popular Woodworking Magazine, Christopher Schwarz was in the shop filming the “Build a Hand-Crafted Bookcase” DVD. I was amazed to see someone build a bookcase in such a short time, using only hand tools.

As an avid reader, as well as a vinyl record addict, this bookcase stood out to me. Between novels, records and inevitably, law school materials (which belong to my smarter and better half), my big box store bookshelves just won’t make the cut. The adjustable shelves, while great in theory, won’t hold the weight of my most valuable possessions.

Chris builds his bookcase with fixed shelves to dissuade the user from putting the heaviest books on top, so that it doesn’t “fall over and crush a small animal” (as he puts it), or in my case, a very large animal.

The idea of using only hand tools to build anything terrified me. But, two months into researching them, and reading “Handplane Essentials,” also by Chris, I want to try and build my own bookcase.

I brought back some handsaws from my hometown after Christmas. I have been relentlessly searching for some vintage handplanes to restore. My cramped basement is calling out to be cleaned.

I have a long road ahead, but a dire need for some new bookcases. This just leaves me with plenty of time to watch “Build a Hand-Crafted Bookcase” enough times that I’m quarantined away from the television (see: law student better half).

—Jon Russelburg

You can purchase “Build a Hand-Crafted Bookcase with Christopher Schwarz” on DVD, or digitally at

Watch a preview below:

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    When will this video appear in my subscription to Popular Woodworking Videos? I thought I remembered reading that all videos would be there ‘first’?

  • rmertens

    I was thinking about building something like this–simple and sturdy–to store my records. Then it occurred to me that maybe I should build two or three of the Jefferson book cases that Chris has written about. I could stack them on top of each other. They would be even stronger, and if I ever move, each case would be its own box. What do you think?

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