Project Coraline: Build an attic door w/ skeleton lock

Picture of Project Coraline: Build an attic door w/ skeleton lock
For the past 6 years that we’ve been living here our daughters room has been blasting hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. The reason why is because she has an attic door in her closet wall that lets you reach the first floor attic space. And by door I mean a piece of crud left over 1/2″ plywood board with a plastic handle in its center held in place by scrap trim work. Don’t take my word for it see for your self below in the condensation buildup.

I really wanted to build something special but didn't want to spend to much on it. Instead of building a real door I decided on using two pieces of scrap plywood and making a fake door facade.
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Step 1: Get stuff together you need

Picture of Get stuff together you need
The first thing I did was sketch out my ideas, buy some wood and setup my “wood working” area. You don't need a whole lot of fancy tools really. Just a chop saw, an pneumatic nail gun helps (not even a framing nail gun just trim is good) and assorted hand tools. I also have a dremel multimax that I'm going to use for hinges and probably the slot for the lock bolt.

So at this point I’ve decided I’m going to use some 3/4″ scrap plywood and buy some cheap poplar wood to use for the box and the faux door panels. I ended up only buying about 18″ of 1×4 poplar. So my plan of attack is basically very simple:
1. Build a box to fit in my measurements
2. Build door, stuff in box
3. Stuff completed door in attic hole
tinker2343 years ago
i like this idea alot but i do think that it is dangeres for her if if she goes in there but it should help her stay out with the door
Mar HK3 years ago
Are you going to add insulation on the other side of the door, or would that be overkill in your climate? If you were getting condensation before, it seems like it would be worthwhile to put at least an R-10.
dennisjudd (author)  Mar HK3 years ago
I thought about doing and might still but so far I haven't seen any condensation on it and the temperature in the closet is much better than it used to be.

I think that with two 3/4" sheets of plywood I might not have to do anything more. Fingers crossed. :)
1" of plywood is R-1.3, 1" of foil backed polyiso foam is R-7. Even the cheap expanded foam board is R-4. It'll make a HUGE difference to replace on of those sheets of plywood with foam board.

that said, I like the look of it, and that's half the point :)
dennisjudd (author)  chrwei3 years ago
Well I'm not against tacking some on the back....and if I had some I totally would have, but I wouldn't replace the plywood since I need the additional width for the hinges to fit.

Of course that's because I used hinges left over from turning a door into a pocket door so if you were using other ones you might be able to do it. or maybe even cut out the center and replace it with foam.

The whole project was under $30....half the price was the skeleton lock :)
HandySun3 years ago
You really shouldn't have your daughter in a room with the attic. Yea, shes definitely going to be lured in there, bad things like the cool attic.
I should say, I know what lives in my attic, and now that I've typed this, you might actually want to move your daughter if you care for her.
if you don't believe me, message me and I will show you what I mean, but it won't mean anything unless you believe. Attic with a skeleton key? Hahaha, come on, you believe don't you
Somebody has been watching Paranormal Activity recently.
hahahaha, thats all I gotta say.

PS, Ghost Adventures is WAY better
soundgod063 years ago
This is a really thick door, 3/4" x 3... 2 1/4"! Interior doors are typically 1 3/8" and exterior are only 1 3/4". No wonder it weighs so darn much.
manuka3 years ago
Good work! I've been a great fan of enhancing such attic spaces, BUT often find door clearances & logistics too tight to be practical. Fingers can get pinched, heads knocked & items may be knocked over by the swinging door! Instead I've gone for lift off/out ply panels, secured with sturdy brass slide "baby catches".

My approach was somewhat inspired by service panels noted on ships my marine engineering dad once served on,& allows panel removal as needed. A smaller one suits simple storage, while removing several (& placing them away from the work area) gives totally clear access. Check pictures at

This particular attic has VERY tight ergonomics, making swinging doors a liability. The room's 4 such hideaway areas are instead lift off/out panels, & are a real feature of the magical space !
iOskr3 years ago
Excellent work!!! looks great
ezrablu3 years ago
Fantattica! Awesome Instructible....this door is so cute and your instructions and photos are so easy to follow.Thanks!
Very nice. Almost looks like a dumbwaiter should be hiding behind there. :D
dennisjudd (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
This is straight from a facebook update I did about it:
"A magical land called Attica where the righteous pink fiberglassians battle the evil brown mouse poopians in eternal struggle for the first floor dominion. Or as I call it the first floor attic."

but yeah i'm always worried i'm going to wake up and find her in there some morning. :)
Bongmaster3 years ago
u got some of your comment boxes covered by bigger ones :S

you cant put a small comment within a larger one the larger overrules the smaller and u cant get it to show.
dennisjudd (author)  Bongmaster3 years ago
I did not know that....thanks I'll get around to fixing it.