Picture of Secret door bookcase
Who doesn't want a secret door bookcase? We have a space in our living room that I've been planning to conceal with just such a door for 10 years, but I've kept putting it off because doing something like this has to be done well. I wanted the carpentry to be of high quality and the mechanism to be rock solid, and I finally got the time, resources and hardware to make it to the standard I wanted.

This is a long instructable, because it covers not just the construction of the bookcase but also some other features - it has a unique locking mechanism based on a sliding book, multiple secret compartments inside the bookcase (aside from the big one behind it!), and it's fitted with electronics that generate some geeky but fun sound and light effects.

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Step 1: Finding a space

You'll know already if there is somewhere in your house suitable for a bookcase to hide a door. For us, it was a weird little space with an angled ceiling and a window. It used to have a balustrade and was entirely useless, but one of the first things we did was wall it off and create an open study nook. That left it open to the living room, which was OK but not ideal, since keeping such a space tidy is a PITA. What makes it suitable for a secret room is that it is cantilevered out over the front door, so unless you're really paying attention when you come into the house, you won't know it's there. It's already surprised visitors, which is ridiculously satisfying.

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ibeme7810 days ago

Thanks for the thorough explanation of your awesome project! I am thinking of making something similar for a doorway that leads to stairs going up to a kids attic playroom. I have two questions that hopefully you can answer.

1- the instructions say you'll need at least 6" for the valance. Is it possible to build a valance to accommodate the necessary hardware that's about 3" (would it be possible/advisable to cut some of the hardware so it can fit in a smaller valance)?

2- do you think I can build/install this bookcase where there's a sloped ceiling? I imagine the most difficult part would be getting the top pin to follow the track. I've though about using a hollow cylinder to house a spring and an elongated pin; the spring would bias the elongated pin into engagement with the top track (the top track would be along the sloped ceiling), and would hopefully maintain the engagement during opening/closing.

Thanks in advance!!

makendo (author)  ibeme7810 days ago

1. The valance is the depth of the bookshelf - are you sure you want it to be only 3" deep? The brackets you see in Step 10 are not really doing all that much so you could probably forego them, and squeeze down the size of the bookshelf as a result, but I'm not sure how functional it will be.

2. I think you'd be better to make a custom valance in which the top follows the sloped ceiling and the track remains horizontal. It would be quite the engineering feat to make a pin that didn't have a lot of play in it.

ibeme78 makendo10 days ago
Thanks for your reply. Sorry for not being clear, but I meant to ask about building a valance that's 3" in height. Your idea about the custom valance would be a good idea, but the ceiling height at the low end is only 5 feet.

Here are pics of the door (sorry if they are sideways), if that would help. Thanks again!
makendo (author)  ibeme7810 days ago

Ah, OK. Perfect space for a secret door! I think you'd be much better off making one using their flush mount hinge kit - it would be plenty strong enough for this little door and you could fill the entire space.

ibeme78 makendo10 days ago

Thanks for the tip. The other side of the hallway (on the right side of the picture) has a similar space with no door. I originally planned to make a real bookcase on that other side (can't make it recessed because there is a bathroom there and it' a concrete block wall), and have the real bookcase match the hidden door-bookcase. Maybe I'll have to scrap that idea and be happy with a non-symmetrical design. Or I could build out both walls enough to accommodate flush bookcases. Thanks again!

Peter581 month ago

Very nice and nicely done presentation except for the metric system. I am considering this to hide laundry room.

makendo (author)  Peter581 month ago

Thanks. It's a great way to hide any sort of mess, for sure - it's amazing how tidy the room looks with the door closed. Re: metric system - yeah, I like doing things the easy way. I remember the first time I tried to follow a plan with imperial measurements and I had to do stuff like subtract 3 7/8" from 4' 6 19/32"... I gave up and converted everything to mm. I'm sure it's straightforward if you grow up with it.

I am afraid I will never be able to have something like this in my house, but I totally love it!! I am not a tidy person and this solution is the best for a person like me!

Since almost all the countries in the world use the international (aka metric) system I am glad you mm.

I cant afford this but i will try to male this (im 13)
mjaroentip2 months ago

OMG, What a great job you've made. What if i would like to keep it close when I'm in the study room, is there any option for me to lock and open from the inside?

makendo (author)  mjaroentip2 months ago

Thanks. I didn't add such a lock, but you definitely could make one easily enough with a bolt or something. Even without one, it's easy to bar just by putting a book between the door and the wall.

MR.DT.Man2 months ago

WOW!! I want one and Now I need one. I didn't notice but how do you open it from the inside?

makendo (author)  MR.DT.Man2 months ago

Just push the bookcase in the middle. It can be unlocked by pulling on a piece of string, if someone locked you in. In practice though, the door is usually open when someone is in there.

MR.DT.Man makendo2 months ago

Thanks for the reply. I want to keep the door shut in my private room. Great job!

Jodi LL2 months ago

Very nice! But I was wondering, because I could not see in any photos, does it sit tight to the wall? Or does there need to be a gap to allow movement without scraping the wall?

makendo (author)  Jodi LL2 months ago

Yes, there is a gap - it's easiest to see in Step 9, when it's sitting in my garage (you can see the valance is deeper than the bookcase). It's about 30 mm, I think. This sort of bookcase would not withstand close scrutiny from a suspicious party, but unless you were expecting something funny, you'd never notice it.

Jodi LL makendo2 months ago

Thank you for responding so quickly. But your answer disappoints me because that's exactly what I'd do. I suppose if you didn't have the light on whilst inside with the bookshelf (door) closed it would work fine.

spikey0113 months ago

Wow! This is excellent. I wanted to get my carpenters do the same thing inside my bedroom which has a long linear study space, however I was doubtful if the column (reinforced concrete) would hold the strength. I have a 4 feet wide and 10 feet high space surrounded by an 8 inch thick column and a headroom that is atleast 3 feet in height.
What do you suggest? Would it be possible to have a similar style of bookshelf that wouldn't effect the column?

makendo (author)  spikey0113 months ago

I can't really envisage what you're describing, but I will say that all the weight of the bookcase is essentially projected on to the floor. So the valence is serving only to stop the bookcase falling over (i.e. the force is pulling the valence away from the wall, not down). Reinforced concrete is pretty strong...

spikey0113 months ago
Wow! This is excellent. I wanted to get my carpenters do the same
thing inside my bedroom which has a long linear study space, however I
was doubtful if the column (reinforced concrete) would hold the
strength. I have a 4 feet wide and 10 feet high space surrounded by an 8
inch thick column and a headroom that is atleast 3 feet in height.

What do you suggest? Would it be possible to have a similar style of bookshelf that wouldn't effect the column?

oneiros884 months ago

So I was looking at this because... secret bookshelf entrance. As I was thinking it couldn't get more awesome you said you used LoZ sound effects. You win life

p8ntballdaddy5 months ago

OMG!!!!!!! I sw this and realized all my dreams have finally come true. Best of all my wife said go for it. :)

("she actually said sure knock yourself out" but, its still an approval.)

makendo (author)  p8ntballdaddy5 months ago

she's a keeper

mostertag16 months ago

OMG. Legend of Zelda music! ;D Windwaker is my favorite <3

AARENAARON7 months ago

dats something very innovative... nice..congrats

anarnold7 months ago

congrats on winning First Prize! you had my vote!.

makendo (author)  anarnold7 months ago

Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

sickdog747 months ago

Amazing! I love it!

seamster7 months ago

Very nice work! Highly impressed, I am.

makendo (author)  seamster7 months ago

Cheers! Probably my favorite build... and on top of that, I think I actually got the stain to match properly. Win.

late_great7 months ago

Very cool shelf have you considered motorizing the door so once you push the book it opens automatically. you could add a second trigger to close it. the space on the top would work well to conceal the motor.

makendo (author)  late_great7 months ago

Thanks. Yes, I did consider it. Powered door openers/closers for a door this heavy would need a decent amount of torque, though, and I couldn't find an inexpensive elegant solution. So it's a cool idea, but one that is difficult to realise on a budget.

ihavesparkle7 months ago

Wow! Great!

brittonv7 months ago

Man this is awesome. Next time I buy a house I am putting "Wierd shaped room" on the "Must Have's" just so I can do this!

makendo (author)  brittonv7 months ago

Good idea. Turn that bad design into a feature!

chucknourse7 months ago
Jake Maverick8 months ago

absolutely awesome! thanks for sharing....'afraid i have to point out though it's not exactly secret anymore when you publish it on the just hope that anybody with a warrant doesn't have access to internet, eh....never mind your emails and the rest....;-)

legamin8 months ago

pretty awesome! This is one project my wife and I agree on! What stands out is your attention to detail. This is definitely going on my Winter list of things to do (minus sound effects) book? "1928 Workbook of Statics and Materials Strengths". (A real page turner)

legamin legamin8 months ago
LOL! I've almost forgotten what it's like to have the wee bairns tugging at your jacket "...what if...?", "but wouldn't it be cool if..", "daddy can we play instead? This is BOOOOORING!"(my son is an artist since birth and never picked up so well on the mechanical endeavors...though he professionally restores furniture, an art in itself, while he waits for his art 'ship' to come in). Though I knew my teaching and patience wasn't fully wasted when at 6 he suggested a pneumatic "lifty-helper thing" to keep the toy box lid from bonking him in the head (again). ...but my kids are 30-ish now with 3-8 year olds of their own and that familiar "daddy can we play now?" Rings true when I see my son in the middle of a project..
makendo (author)  legamin8 months ago

Good book choice.

And yes, the sound effects are utterly unnecessary, but they're what you get when you listen when your kids say "do you know what would be *really* cool, Dad?"

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