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.

Step 1: Finding a space

Picture of 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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william1st1 month ago

Looks PRO. Unique. And i like it! Thanks for the detailed info.

animeguard2 months ago

this is really cool

Rachael K2 months ago

Wow! This is the best!!! So cool.

andy.knote8 months ago

Wow, really great build, you have done an exceptional job doing something we have all wanted to do! Nice Build!

This has broken my MIND!!!

ibeme788 months 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)  ibeme788 months 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 makendo8 months 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!
fenikkusu ibeme788 months ago

This is a great project!!!!

I really just had to say though... that door... attic playroom for the kids... turning it into a secret door... really the creepy factor just went through the roof on this one!

Sorry it needed to be said!!!

Um once the project is completed please DO NOT put vintage china dolls on the shelves!!!! And DO check on the kids...often! Maybe install a speaker or intercom in their play area.....

Catley fenikkusu8 months ago

Delightful! I only wish we had a space where we could do that!

I don't find it creepy, for one thing, because there is a window in there and a space around the bookcase so a voice could be heard, should anyone get stuck inside. Besides that, the "after" picture in this particular case appears to show the space fitted out as a home office, not a playroom.

Still, there will probably be some who will want to create a secret playroom this way, and it's always wise to give due consideration to warnings. I like the idea of an intercom, and it goes without saying that any child old enough to operate and move the bookcase should be trained in how to open it from the inside, which appears to be fairly easy--and perhaps the child should not be told how to "lock" it using a book. (But most kids are likely to hit on that on their own!)

fenikkusu Catley8 months ago

Lol You guys could have some freaky fun with a sleepover for the kiddos at Halloween .... or....or.... a murder mystery game when they're older....

This is some great horror movie stuff!

Have fun with it! Good luck and heck you have a really odd door there, but other people will too. You should consider telling us all about the magic you make with your own instructable!

makendo (author)  ibeme788 months 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 makendo8 months 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!

the.mom.19568 months ago


Peter5810 months ago

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

makendo (author)  Peter5810 months 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.

TizianaZ makendo9 months ago

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.

Colonel Hogan10 months ago
I cant afford this but i will try to male this (im 13)
mjaroentip10 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)  mjaroentip10 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.Man10 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.Man10 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 makendo10 months ago

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

Jodi LL11 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 LL11 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 makendo11 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.

Ajan11 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)  Ajan11 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...

Ajan11 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?

oneiros881 year 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

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)  p8ntballdaddy1 year ago

she's a keeper

mostertag11 year ago

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

AARENAARON1 year ago

dats something very innovative... nice..congrats

anarnold1 year ago

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

makendo (author)  anarnold1 year ago

Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

sickdog741 year ago

Amazing! I love it!

seamster1 year ago

Very nice work! Highly impressed, I am.

makendo (author)  seamster1 year ago

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

late_great1 year 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.

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