Hidden Bookshelf Door for Closet

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Introduction: Hidden Bookshelf Door for Closet

I have always wanted a door that was disguised as a bookshelf. A few years ago, I bought and renovated an old farm house. But there were a few things that I just hadn't gotten to - such as putting a door on the closet in my office. Well my 'office' never had a door, and has since moved into the spare room, so that I can convert my old office to a nursery for a first child. My wife kept saying I could keep my stuff in the closet, but I really didn't think the baby needed to keep my power tools. My wife also kept saying how we needed to get a bookshelf and I kept thinking about how I needed to put a door on the closet....and when those 2 ideas merged, I knew we were on to something! So in the interest of not procrastinating (that due date seems to be coming faster and faster every day!), I decided to get on it and make an Instructable in the process. Enjoy!

So let's get started on the design.There are 4 parts to a HIDDEN bookshelf door (HBF).

1 - the bookshelf: a complete bookshelf that could stand alone and you could be done with it.

2- the frame: this attaches to the bookshelf and connects the door the doorframe.

3- the latch: there are number of options for this. The latch you use determines what your options are for opening the door.

4- hinges: these need to be hidden, which either means you shell out some money for a fancy hinges or you get creative....I was going to use hidden hinges for cupboards, but I decided I wouldn't want to have to do the hinges again if these broke, so I bought proper hinges.

Before you get your own supplies, you'll need to measure your door opening and the desired depth of the bookshelf. The list of supplies that I provided is for a door that is 28-3/4" x65-1/4" x 29" x 65" (my house doesn't have a square angle in it!) with a bookshelf that is 8 inches deep.

Supplies

  • (2) 1" x 8" x 8'
  • (2) 1" x 4" x 8'
  • (4) 2" rigid casters
  • (1) Latch
  • (2) Hidden hinges
  • (4) flat brackets
  • (1) Backing, your choice

Other things:

  • Screws
  • Drill Drill
  • Driver
  • Saw
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Calculator

Step 1: Measure and Draw Up Your Plans

If you want to use hidden hinges, the you can't just build a bookshelf and shove it in the door frame.

The bookshelf has to be narrower than the frame. See image for the details. But basically, a straight line drawn from the front-most-corner on the hinge side to the back-most-opposite-corner of the bookshelf, must be equal to or less than the ACTUAL width of the door frame. If you don't account for the depth of the bookshelf, you're door will not swing open.

Time to break out your trig skills!

Sin(angle) = O/H

O = the depth of your bookshelf, including the thickness of the frame

H = the smallest width of your doorframe

Solve for the angle. Sin^(-1) = arcsin

arcsin(O/H) = the angle

Plug this angle into Cos(angle) = A/H and solve for A.

A = the max width of the bookshelf

cos(angle)*H = A

My numbers:

arcsin(8.5/28.75) = 17.197 degrees

cos(17.197)=A/28.75

28.75*cos(17.197) = A = 27.465"

THE MAX WIDTH FOR MY BOOKSHELF IS 27.465 INCHES.

I personally thought this was cutting it too close, so I made my bookshelf 24 inches wide.

Now we will measure all the pieces that will need be cut.

Bookshelf:

  • shelves (your choice on how many you want, I chose 3) (these can be the same width as the top and bottom pieces, which will help reduce the number of unique measurements)
  • top
  • bottom
  • sides

In total 5 pieces of the same length and 2 pieces of the same length.

Frame: The frame is the EXACT size of the doorframe. You want this to be a snug enough so that it doesn't look like it opens.

  • top
  • bottom
  • side 1
  • side 2

In total 4 pieces.

Step 2: Cut Your Frame Pieces and Assemble

Have you double checked your measurements? Good! Now you need to the cut frame.

Cut the pieces. I labeled each board, so I knew which side of the frame it was for and which side faced inside - In this picture it says TBR = Top, Back, Right. This was imperative for getting it to fit again, since my door frame is not square.

Try fitting it together in the door frame and make sure it is a good close fit. Duct tape (not masking tape, I tried that and it failed) may work to keep the pieces together for this, otherwise, you can use a nail gun and put it together loosely with a few brads.

Stick it right in. Does it fit? Good!

Is it too big? Then sand it down or cut new wood if needed.

Is it too small? Then the easiest thing is just to cut new wood.

Ready to connect the pieces permanently? Let's go!

You can connect these 4 pieces however you'd like, but for my purposes, I used brackets.

NOTE: I decided to leave a small, quarter inch or so, gap because the floor isn't level. Eventually I am going to rig a piece of quarter round that will be able to move up and down when the door moves so that the gap is always concealed.

Step 3: Cut Your Bookshelf Pieces and Assemble

Cut your bookshelf pieces.

Pre-drill your holes to avoid splitting the wood. I used 2 screws on
each side for each shelf/top/bottom piece. And I applied wood glue to ensure a strong hold.

You can countersink but only if you want a cleaner look. I chose not to do this, since this is hidden unless the door is open.

Pre-drill your hole before inserting the screw and screw together the top, bottom and sides of the bookshelf.

Now let's put in the shelves...

Step 4: Install the Bookshelves

To measure your spacing (See calculator pic for details):

  1. take the height of your bookshelf and determine how many shelves you want (I did 3)
  2. subtract the thickness of the top and bottom, and each shelf (mine were 3/4" thick each). This will give you your open space.
  3. Determine how you want them spaced. My wife wanted them equally spaced, so I divided this distance by 4. Which ended up being around 14-1/4". Then I spaced them accordingly.
NOTES: Measure early and often. Measure before you put in every screw. Always measure starting from a securely screwed reference point (i.e. don't measure from one unscrewed board to another unscrewed board)

Step 5: Put Wheels on Bookshelf

Attach these with screws. 2 wheels on each end, just off the center line. I was only going to use 2 wheels but then decided to use 4. This made it easier to work with too, since the bookshelf was able to stand up on its own (although it was a bit wobbly).


NOTE: If your house is as un-level and un-square as mine (#GottaLoveOldHouses), make sure you take that into account when attaching the wheels. I put the bookshelf in the frame and made sure my shelves were still level. By some miracle everything was level, but if it wasn't, I was prepared to add washers between the wheel screws and bookshelf base where I needed to get it level.

Step 6: Attach Frame to Bookshelf

There are a number of ways to attach this well.

I chose finishing nails. I know I'd have to go in and cover these up later, but it was much easier to deal with.

To do this, I had my wife help. My wife got in the closet and pushed the bookshelf tightly against the frame while I used a nail gun to attach the frame and the bookshelf. I put the FIRST nail in a TOP corner, SECOND in a BOTTOM OPPOSITE corner to help stop it from shifting as I put more nails in.

Step 7: Put Backing on Bookshelf

There was no easy way for me to cut this without a table saw. I put the big piece of wood on top of my garbage and recycling bins and then measured the width and height and of the bookshelf and cut it out...carefully. It went well enough.


Then I centered it on the back of the bookshelf and used my nail gun to attach it.

Step 8: Attach Hinges

Here are the hinges that I ordered. Their weight limit is not as good as I would prefer, but I don't plan on this door being opened that much or having that much weight on it. That said....

With the bookshelf in the doorframe, hold the hinges on the seam between the bookshelf and door where you want them. I did about 1 foot from the top and 1 foot from the bottom. Mark a line for the location of the screw holes on both doorframe and bookshelf frame.

Next, take a drill-bit that is slightly smaller than the width of the hinge. Measure the depth of the hinge that will go into the frames. Then measure that on to you drill bit - place a piece of masking tape on your drill bit so you know how far in to drill. In my case there were 2 different depths, so I had to do this part twice.

Once you've drilled, use a wood chisel to clean on the inside. This part was tedious. And I had to go back in and drill multiple times. But I eventually got them to fit properly.

NOTE: If your hinge is wider than your bookshelf frame, you will need to get creative. You could get a strip of wood and screw and glue it the bookshelf frame so you have more width to worth with. That said, I would not trust that to be a very strong hold if anything were to get tweaked the wrong way.

Step 9: Create Latch

I may come back and add this to my Instructable, but for now I haven't decided how to do. For now, the frame is very snug and keeps the entire thing in place quite nicely.

Step 10: Marvel at Your Awesome New Hidden Bookshelf Door

I'm so stoked! I hope you liked. Please make sure to vote in my contest entry! :) And if you make it, let me know how it goes!

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    43 Comments

    0
    Happy couple
    Happy couple

    1 year ago

    These are fabulous instructions. My only critique is no mention of allowing for the height of your casters when building the shelving; but in reading your instructions it is very clear that this would need to be done, so no harm. I am wondering how those rigid casters are working out for you?? Would it not be better to have spinning casters under the shelving??

    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey there. Thanks for the feedback!
    For the caster height: I didn't have to measure this which is why it wasn't included. I put the caster on the bookshelf and held the shelf in place in the door frame, then put the bookshelf frame up around it and nailed it. This reduced my risk for a measuring error and ensured a proper fit.
    For the swivel caster: The rigid caster was chosen because it will always follow the same, 'straight' path. If I chose a swivel caster, I would risk it spinning out of order - for example, if there was a particle on the floor and the wheel got caught on it, it may spin out of alignment. That said, the swivel caster would certainly work, just not as well as the rigid one.
    Thanks again!

    0
    melissa.adams11212
    melissa.adams11212

    1 year ago

    This is the hidden for bookshelf from the house I wired up

    IMG_20180502_145749.jpgIMG_20180502_145741.jpg
    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Reply 1 year ago

    That's awesome! What does your hinge system look like?

    0
    aysesevil
    aysesevil

    1 year ago

    Is it possible to see image of hidden hinge once installed and what about a door knob? I've been looking to buy/make a bookshelf door for the longest time but the ones available screw into the floor and I did not want permanent holes on my nice oak floors. Thank you for this ingenious alternative.
    My problem is an almost 7" door opening which makes it impossible to inset a pre-hung door.

    20200607_103446.jpg
    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey there, I added some pictures of the hinge installation. Hope this helps :)

    0
    aysesevil
    aysesevil

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you, I would have never guessed you had to bore a deep hole. Yes, most definitely helps.
    Home Depot carries the hinge from $21 to $182 and some images of other uses. I've needed power outlet on my deck and did not want to poke through the wall. I think the hinge is fabulous, thanks again.

    0
    melissa.adams11212
    melissa.adams11212

    1 year ago

    Thank you so much I've always wanted one since I wired up a new home with a bookshelf that led into an office style hidden room. Could you possibly take a picture to add to your finished product with the door open by chance please. Thank you so much again for your instructions. They will make the job easier when I do it.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    1 year ago

    Hello Nathan, Thank you so much for sharing your project and process. I have been looking at and storing information on how to make a door shelf for my door going to my upstairs. Your instructions even with the Trig calculations and my Math deficiency ( i still sometimes count on my fingers lol ) are wonderful. I think If I go slow I will figure it out from your pictures and your drawing which I wish was in black ink. The other thing I would like to impose on you is for you to add your process for putting the hinges you got on the door and the name of the hinges you finally settled on. Pictures are most welcome because I am basically a sight hound. I hope you will also come back with your latch idea. I am thinking that a molding wide enough for the inside of the door frame as a pull might look good and hide the fact that there is a small room behind the shelving. I also found no link posted in comments about the door hinges as you mentioned. Thank you so much for your help and for taking the time to answer.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    I DID find it after I sent the message to you and thank you for reposting it. I first thought you meant in YOUR comments in the instructable. I have that tutorial also saved from reading it when it first posted. I was hoping since your instructions were simpler that you might also come up with a more simple hinge and latch idea.
    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi there, here is an affiliate link to the hinges I used- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074PLGK42/ref=a...
    They have a ~22 lbs load rating. If I were to buy hinges again or for a bookshelf that I know will have more weight, I would buy a different, larger set.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    I will need a larger set because this will be for a doorway to my upstairs that I will be building the book case for as I stated in my first post to you. Again I am hoping you will add your hinge and latch installation process as you stated you might. Thank you again for your answers.

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Question 1 year ago

    Wow, Trig!
    I was looking at the problem at it struck me that one could figure it out using the D^2 + W^2 =C^2 in the Depth^2 + Width^2 had to be less than the square of the rear of the 'case' measured from the hinge side jamb.
    It also occurred to me that the case need not be centered in the opening, but could be flush up against the hinge side jam to maximize the available shelf space.
    If this approach were used, one would (might) want to add to the width of the vertical trim on the hinge side or reduce the width opposite to offer a balanced appearance.

    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Answer 1 year ago

    Agreed and good point. I chose to center it in the doorway so that it wouldn't look off center in the final product, but I did consider making it wider and having it offset. Thanks for the comment!

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    Reply 1 year ago

    Years ago (1960), we had a door to our kitchen that (you should pardon the phrase) swung both ways and came to rest in the 'closed' position by design. The hinge things were mounted in the top of the frame/casing and in/on the floor at the bottom. I wonder if such hardware exists today and if it would lend itself to a project like this - albeit swinging 'out' only.

    If the case was loaded, it might demand a swiveling caster on the swinging end - but would still seek the sweet stop spot.

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Charles, My Mothers house had a swinging door from the kitchen to the dining room. There was a hinge at the top and bottom of the door. If you Google swinging door hinge you will get the info and I bet if you go on YouTube and query for swinging door installation or hinge installation you will find something. Good Luck! BTW, I though I would be nice and give you the Google link lol. Sorry for the yahoo link they got me again and I have to try and get rid of it for the umpteenth time. https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hspart=Lkry&hsimp=yhs-SF01&type=ANYS_A205

    0
    jennynormoyle
    jennynormoyle

    1 year ago

    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing this. Our house has two double door cupboards and I have thought for a long time that I would like to do this. I'm wondering if you think it will work on a double door, or wouldn't I be able to open them where they will join? Maybe a post between two bookshelves would be ok? You've done an amazing job.

    door.jpg
    0
    NathanB2
    NathanB2

    Reply 1 year ago

    That would look great with dual-bookshelf-doors! I would just set it up to latch at the center edge of each door, I don't see a need for a post, unless you wanted it. Also, because your doors are much bigger than mine, you would definitely want to buy bigger hinges or consider different hinge ideas. I've seen designs where an existing door is used (if you don't want it to 'as hidden'). I can't tell if your doors are solid or not, but if they're solid and you have the tools to cut a straight, clean line, you could use the existing doors as the frame (and should still upgrade the hinges to hold more weight) then just build the bookshelf and attach it. Thank you for your comment and compliment!

    0
    jim.katz.3
    jim.katz.3

    1 year ago

    I have always liked the idea of a bookcase-hidden door, so when I actually owned a house and had to renovate anyhow, this was a priority somewhere. Got almost this far when the architect friend helping sat me down and explained I would never be happy without an upgrade. I am not in that house anymore, so can't show you, but here were his main comments:

    Hinge: because of the swing space needed for such a thick 'door' to pass the jamb, I am losing too much space with a corner hinge. This needs instead to be a metal pivot pole passing through the balance point of the depth and somewhat in from the edge - the door pivots on that pole so that when open the left side moves out of the room, the right side moves in a bit. The pivot pole is heavy-duty and attached to structural members top and bottom so it can take the entire weight - no wheels.

    Weight: speaking of weight, when filled with 500 or so pounds of books, the shelf was going to be too heavy to move easily. He put a rope-counterweight on the thing, so that pushing on the trigger book (yes, an integral part of a hidden bookcase door!) would easily allow the swing. The final product worked great and was the centrepiece of Halloween scares for years.