Since I was a kid, I've always wanted a movie theater and a secret door in my house. Now that I'm all grown up I have built my theater but was losing space to a poorly placed door that led into a very small room containing my sump. I decided to reclaim that space by moving the door, creating a place to store my DVD' s, and get that secret door all in one project.
Tools - You'll need some
Wood - I used 1x8x8 Poplar but you can use whatever suits your needs
Continuous Hinge - Get from Amazon HERE
80lb Mag Locks - Get from Amazon HERE
12v Power Adapter - HERE
Step 1: Plan Everything Out Ahead of Time.
I highly suggest measuring and planning everything out ahead of time as the key to a good secret door is close tolerances and a snug fit.
First I made measurements of the area I wanted to put the door and built the area using sketchup. I then built the DVD case virtually so I could determine if there would be any binding points. I was originally going to space the shelves out evenly, but in building the real version, I decided to leave the top shelf taller so I could put movie gadgets there.
Step 2: Build the DVD/bookcase
The actual bookcase is built from 1×8 poplar because I was planning on painting it and it was cheapest, but you can build it from any material and size you wish. I chose this size because it was the perfect depth for my DVD's.
I'm no carpenter so it took me longer to put this together than it should have. I highly suggest taking some time and watching some YouTube videos on making built in book shelves. I learned quite a bit by doing so. I started by measuring and cutting the top, bottom, and sides and marking the placement of the shelves. I'd you place the side boards next to reach other, you can mark them both at the same time. Be sure to label which side is up and down! Then build the outside frame by gluing and screwing the pieces together. I used some right angle clamps that I have lying around to keep things mostly square. Don't worry if it isn't perfectly square, that can be fixed later.
Next measure out your shelves and fix them in place with some nails and glue. Be sure that the shelves are flush with the back of the case, not all wood is the same size. If it sticks out, it is hard to attach the back. I fixed my shelves in place with some small nails before screwing them in place to make stirring things up a little easier.
Lastly, cut out a piece of 1/4 plywood for the back. Nail in one side of the backing and then check your shelf for square. Measure from each top corner to opposite bottom corner to be sure both measurements are the same. If it is off a little, physically manipulate the case until it is, then track the rest of the back in place. If you take your time and make good cuts, you shouldn't have to adjust much.
Because I like to over do things, I then screwed every shelf and added an extra bottom plate to support the wheel that will go on the bottom.
Step 3: Get the DVD/bookcase in Place
The opening for my DVD case was already cut out using my measurements from sketchup. To aid in manipulating it in place, I nailed a piece of wood the exact height of my wheel. This allowed me to identify potential issue in fit. Because my walls weren't plum, I had to make a few adjustments and shave down some of the stud frame.
Once I had these mostly corrected, I attached the support wheel and moved on to installing the secret door.
Step 4: Hanging the DVD Case
This is the trickiest part of the entire process.
To hold the door in place we went with a very study steel piano hinge. Based on my research, it would give the best support, good opening range, and little sag for my use. IF you are using books, I highly recommend researching the best hinge for your needs. This might not support hundreds of pounds of books but it works great for the weight of my DVD's.
To help line everything up, we screwed pieces of wood across the opening of the door and pressed the DVD case up against it. This made sure that it would close flush with no visible gaps. We then made sure it was level and then screwed the hinge into the stud and DVD case. Start with a few screws to make sure it's opening correctly, then finish of the rest of the screws.
Step 5: Trim It Out
Because the door swings, there will be gaps between the DVD case and the opening. To hide this, trim around the DVD case overlapping the edges of the DVD case to hide any gaps. When you open the door, the trim will stay in place and the door will swing in. The bottom trim is actually fixed to the door itself to hide the wheel. Because my floor isn't quite level, my bottom trim had to be cut angled to fit flush with the carpet.
Step 6: Locking the Door
I researched many different ways to securely lock this secret door and settled on using two electromagnetic locks to do the trick.
Each lock provides 80lbs of resistance and holds the door closed tight at the top and bottom. When fully engaged the door won't move at all and is nearly impossible to push open without breaking something.
Mounting the locks can be a bit tricky as they have to line up perfectly parallel to engage. My solution of using wooden blocks to attach the locking and locking plate isn't that pretty, but it's on the inside where no one will see it. Don't judge me.
The locks run off of a 12v power adapter and are engaged when power is supplied to the locks. When you want to open the door you need to cut the power to the locks. Wiring the locks to a switch is one way to do it, but then you have to hide the switch somewhere. Maybe you can make a cool statue with a lifting head that has the button, but I went with a wireless RF switch that allows you to turn the locks on and off with a key fob. The RF controller goes between the power supply and the locks and can be mounted on the secret side of the door. Don't ask me where I keep the key fob, I'm not telling you.
To keep from being locked inside, you may want to also wire a switch on the inside of the door. I didn't do this in my setup because you can just reach up and unplug the locks if you find your self locked in. If you conceal all of your wiring I would suggest an exit button. Also, if the power goes out your door will default open. To keep this from happening and people from finding all your goodies, you can always plug your locks into a UPS to keep them activated. I haven't done this yet, but it sounds like a cool idea.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Finally, paint or stain your DVD case and trim. I used a flat black paint to make the DVD's stand out but would go with a satin or eggshell in the future. When grabbing the shelves to close the door, the flat finish leaves a slight print that I have to wipe off to keep it looking good
Let the paint dry for a couple of days before closing and securing the door. If you don't, it might stick and peel off some paint as the DVD case presses flush against the trim. I only know this because it happened to me but a little paint touch up and you'd never even know
All I had to do was drywall over the old for opening and it was done!