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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oneiros881 month 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

p8ntballdaddy2 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)  p8ntballdaddy2 months ago

she's a keeper

mostertag13 months ago

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

AARENAARON4 months ago

dats something very innovative... nice..congrats

anarnold4 months ago

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

makendo (author)  anarnold4 months ago

Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

sickdog744 months ago

Amazing! I love it!

seamster4 months ago

Very nice work! Highly impressed, I am.

makendo (author)  seamster4 months ago

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

late_great4 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_great4 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.

ihavesparkle4 months ago

Wow! Great!

brittonv4 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)  brittonv4 months ago

Good idea. Turn that bad design into a feature!

chucknourse4 months ago
Jake Maverick4 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....;-)

legamin5 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 legamin4 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)  legamin4 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?"

dblanken4 months ago

Do you have any trouble with things falling off the shelves when you open it?

makendo (author)  dblanken4 months ago

No, none. The painting for example is just leaning there, and it has never moved. The reason is mostly due to inertia; you can't accelerate the bookcase very fast because it is heavy, so there are no sudden movements. It's easy to move because you have good leverage and very little friction, but not fast. You can see a kid opening it in the video to see what I mean.

dunedon4 months ago

Excellent design ... I was wondering, would this work installed "IN" an opening? I have a large (6') wide opening I'd love to put this into ... making it appear that the bookcase was part of the wall. The valence, if needed, would have to be inside that opening instead of in front of it.

makendo (author)  dunedon4 months ago

No, because there would be gaps along the side to allow the door to open. I think you would need 2 of these instead.

rjdennison4 months ago

Great idea Makendo.

Unfortunately, I'm the kind of guy that would start this and then take months to finish it. I can never seem to find 4-5hr blocks of time, so it ends up being 1hr here and 1hr there, which is a terribly inefficient use of time, especially considering setup and cleanup in each of those blocks ;)

It seems to me that the most complicated part of the base system is building the bookshelves. I guess if one could find the right height & width of bookshelves to cover the entrance in a bifold fashion, the valance could be built to cover the upper mechanism, and a nice paint job on the whole thing would do the trick?

It wouldn't have the nice wood grain finish that your shelfdoor does, but it might be a little easier for those of us without the cabinet making experience.

What do you think?

makendo (author)  rjdennison4 months ago

Just buy a pre-made door. I bought the hardware mostly because I like a challenge and wanted to customize the bookcase in a very particular way. I saved some money too, but not a huge amount given the time I took to do it.

This is such a wonderful project, truly inspired and inspiring! I have essentially no woodworking experience, but I was able to follow along and really understand what you were doing, well enough that I feel I might be able to actually pull this off with a little help, if I had somewhere to put one of these beauties. You did a fantastic job documenting and explaining this, bravo.
makendo (author)  counterillusion4 months ago

Thanks for yr kind words. If you do make one, I suggest skipping the side trim to make the build a bit more straightforward.

Will do, thanks for the tip!
realife115 months ago

Half the characters on "The Walking Dead" show would still be alive if they had this!!

annabenson65 months ago
Thats awesome
Korlee5 months ago

So cool! Thank you! I wish (more than usually) that I'd have a house, not a rental apartment.. :D

samjohn5 months ago
WOW! This is one of the best instructibles I've seen for a while. Just curious, would this work with one panel for smaller openings?
makendo (author)  samjohn5 months ago

Thanks! No, but you can get suitable pivot hinges for one panel doors, too.

imperio5 months ago


Deceive even Dracula!

thundercookie5 months ago


totally awesome dude its like a movie that has Dracula behind the secret door with the pull out book

thetoadmaster5 months ago

My only concern is with the locking mechanism: is there a way to unlock it from the inside, or is there a risk someone could be imprisoned within? (I could see my kids doing this, possibly by accident.)

makendo (author)  thetoadmaster5 months ago

Yes, see step 15: "I drilled a small hole in the back of the case behind the book, so I could attach a nylon cord to the steel plate to allow occupants to unlock the door from inside. This string also allows the occupants of the room to close the door fully from inside."

Awesome. Very nice and well thought out instructable. I look forward to one day building my own. :)
robi_ncc5 months ago


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