Hidden Door Bookcase
Posted by Marcus Orr on July 24, 2009
A few months ago, I came across a tutorial for building a hidden door bookcase
. I’ve always been fascinated by hidden passages and unique features in homes. I found out that there are several companies out there that fabricate all kinds of hidden doors. Hiddenpassageway.com
has some really high end secret passages (and a pretty cool website). Another site, Hiddenpassages.com
also has some pretty good ideas for hidden doors. If I ever get to build a house, I’m definitely going to incorporate some nice hidden passages. I wanted one now though. We only had one place in my house where a hidden door could be put in without much trouble – a coat closet in our living room by the front door. I decided to make it look like a built in bookcase. Here’s the finished product (almost finished – it still needs to be stained dark like the console beside it.)
My kids are calling it our “Scooby Doo” bookcase as a tribute to all of the neat hidden passages in the old Scooby Doo cartoons. The next picture gives you an idea of what this area of the house looked like before I built the door. It was taken a while back just after I had just hung our new tv and built the console underneath.
I removed the closet door and tore out the door casing. I wanted to make the new feature look like a built in bookcase. I should have taken some photos during the building process, but unfortunately I didn’t. I built the basic bookcase frame first. After I had the frame built, I had to figure out how it would open and shut. I couldn’t use regular door hinges anywhere because they wouldn’t allow enough clearance and would be difficult to hide.
I found an article on Woodweb.com about using a Rixson pivot hinge on hidden bookcase doors. It was extremely helpful and gave me the idea of constructing a scale model of my bookcase out of cardboard to test my hinge placement. My father has a machine shop, so I built the hinges myself. Each set of hinges is made from a short piece of steel tube welded to a steel plate with a polyurethane bushing pressed into the tube and another plate with a 5/16″ bolt welded to it with the threads cut off. Here is a photo of the top hinge.
The weight of the bookcase doesn’t rest on the hinges. They are just pivot points to keep the bookcase aligned. The weight is held by three pivoting casters underneath the bookcase. Two of the casters and the bottom hinge can be seen in the next photo.
I’ve had some questions about the design of the hinges, so I drew the following diagram to help explain them. They are simple to make and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to put together in a decently equipped shop. The diagram is crude (I drew it in MS Paint), but functional. You can right click on it and download or print it if you need to refer to it to make your own set of hinges.
I used fluted trim on the face of the bookcase. I cut the trim on an angle along one of the flutes. When the bookcase opens, the trim separates. The fluted design helps hide the small gap that was needed to allow the bookcase to swing. Here’s a closer look at the trim. You can also see the lock I installed in the top of the bookcase.
The lock was an afterthought, but because of it’s location, it’s nicely hidden when the key isn’t in it. I used a cabinet lock, made some linkage out of steel flat stock, a lock pin out of steel bar and a guide out of a block of plastic. Here’s the locking mechanism…
I’m happy with the outcome. Now, I need to stain the bookcase and paint the patched areas on the wall. I’d also like to cover the back of the bookcase with some black material of some sort. I think the finished product looks much better than that boring old slab door that was there before.
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