Introduction: Foldable Bookcase

About: I am a student at Berry College. Most of these projects are created at Hackberry Lab for Creative Technology classes.

My room is kinda small, and very full, so I designed a book case that could fit more of my books without taking up so much space width wise, and when I move it can work as a regular bookshelf if I want it to.

Price: Mine was 250-ish dollars, but I got some stuff for free. Chances are yours will be between 250 and 300

Tools needed:

Milling machine (optional)


Nail gun

Wood glue


wood (obviously)

(see pictures for following)

Adjustable shelf track x 8

Soss Hinges (oval is what I used, Barrel works too)

Chest clasp


A buddy. I don't endorse lonely projects.

Step 1: Choosing Your Wood

For this project I used 7 planks of 1x8x8 select pine. Two of them were cut for shelves, and the others were used to build the frames. After that I used birch plywood for the back and front covers.

Step 2: Cutting

Cut four of the planks to be 78 inches, and another plank into four 22 inch pieces. I suggest waiting until the end to cut out the shelves so that you can make them fit the way you want them.

Step 3: Putting in Your Hinges

Because I wanted my bookcase to fold a complete 180 degrees, I bought a Soss hinge (see image). This is the kind of hinge that is used for hidden doors, so when it is completely closed none of it shows. In order to do this I asked the carpenters that work at my school to help me. The head carpenter, Kevin, taught me how to use this large green machine, (a mortising machine) to drill out the cavity that the hinge will sit in. (you could also use a router to do this if you wanted to chance it). Once you have your holes cut out, wait until later to actually screw them in. Make sure they fit first before you continue.

Step 4: How Do You Put in Shelving?

For this we used the router. It was much easier to use it this time because all I had to do was cut out a straight line. In order to do this I decided to put a 1 inch guide, and cut out groves on either side of the wood. Make sure to pay attention to what side you do it on particularly for the boards you will use the hinges on. In order for them to fit together make sure all grooves are on the side you want to be the inside. After doing this to the 78 inch boards, set them aside, and use a 3/4 width tip piece to cut out grooves on the 22 inch boards. For this you need to stay along the edge. The reason for this is that it makes it sturdier when they are put together with the other boards.

Note: also you can cut out a small indent to grip for the handle. This will be hard because you will have to use the router without a guide. Make sure to remember what piece the handle is on when you attach your frames together.

Step 5: Putting Together Your Frames

Two people are needed for this step. Taking your router, use a 3/4 width tip piece to cut out grooves on the 22 inch boards. For this you need to stay along the edge. (if you look close you can see the cut in the 2nd picture) The reason for this is that it makes it sturdier when they are put together with the other boards. Using wood glue attach the 78 inch pieces, or sides, with your 22 inch top/bottom pieces. While your partner is holding them together use a nail gun to secure the wood together until the glue dries.

Note: You can NOT stain wood glue. Don't use to much. If you do, wipe it off with a wet rag IMMEDIATELY. If you don't get it all of try sanding it.

Step 6: So You've Made Your Frames. Now What?

Take a break and breath.....

GET BACK TO WORK. It's time to put on the backing. As said I used Birch plywood which was really similar in color, and took the stain pretty much the same. (barely a shade more red) Re-measure the outside of the book cases, and cut plywood accordingly. (one sheet of plywood worked for me). Like with the frame, use wood glue to put it on (DON'T USE TOO MUCH WOOD GLUE DOES NOT TAKE STAIN!) Have your partner help you with this, so that you can get it centered properly, and nail it into place. Make sure your partner is holding the frame firmly lined up with the edges of the backing. You should end up with two identical bookshelves. If you don't then you done messed up.

Step 7: Screws and Drills

It's time to put in your hinges. Go. Do it.

Step 8: The Finishing Touches

After testing to make sure your hinges work right, it's time for the longest part of the process. Staining. I used Minwax Red Oak. It turns kinda purple red on pine (It's gorgeous) Buy two cans, you are going to be doing a lot of staining. I chose to do one layer, but if you want it darker after eight hours (make sure to read the instructions on the back of the can) you can apply another layer. (Remember the more layers the more stain you have to buy) After eight hours you can also apply a finish called polyurethane, which will help protect the wood. This process can take between 2 to 4 days depending on your number of layers, and the amount of time between application. I suggest using a rag to wipe on thick-ish even layers of stain, and a brush for the polyurethane.

Note: If the polyurethane is to thick you can mix a little bit of Mineral Salts (paint remover stuff) in until it is the right consistency.

Step 9: What Do I Do While Its Drying?

After this Kevin gave me some great ideas (and free stuff) so I decided to add on Wheels (on one side), a base (on the stationary side) and clasps to keep it closed. (You may also want to add a clasp to the back to keep it open when it's a normal book case. (You should probably wait until the stain is at least fifteen minutes (A.K.A after you wipe of the excess if you read the staining instructions.) before you put these on. Or you can wait until after the polyurethane dries. (I was on a deadline). Don't forget that you have to stain and polyurethane the base as well.

Note: see pictures above for the hardware I used.

Step 10: You Used Too Much Wood Glue Didn't You

That's okay. Luckily there are creative people in the world who can fix our silly mistakes. After a glance at Pintrest, I decided to use wallpaper around the edges. you could also use burlap, old looking newspaper (don't judge. it's cool), or anything else that can glue. (not cat's that's bad) It also just looks pretty. You could also try using paint similar to the stain.

Note: If you use paint stipple it, or use a sponge.

May the schwartz be with you.