Introduction: Mantle Mounted TV Shelf With a Secret Compartment

About: Just a (very) amateur woodworker/builder trying to make some cool things that fit into my life.

This is my first Instructable, so if anyone has any constructive criticism, please let me know.

This is a outline of a mantle mounted shelf I made for my TV to fit over the mantle above the non-working fireplace in my room. The mantle was too short for the tv to safely sit and I also wanted to add some storage. I also used some magnetic locks to create a secret compartment hidden in the middle. Hopefully this will help you with any ideas or secret shelf projects.

Step 1: Materials/Tools

I used some basic materials for this project, and total amounts will depend on your design/dimensions


-I used just under 2 2'x4' sheets of sanded Birch 3/4" plywood. The overall width of my shelf is 45" to accommodate the mantle supports and has a depth of 9" on top and 8" deep shelves.

-Walnut, I had sanded walnut from a big box store and used a few pieces ripped down to the appropriate width off a 4ft section of 1x4

-Beetle-kill pine, I used a sanded 1x4 and ripped to just over 3" wide for both pieces, trying to find continuous grain for visual appeal


All screws used were from either the hinges I bought (small 1 inch silver hinges) or 1.25" KREG pocket hole screws.

For the large magnets (mounted behind the white foam) I used the below

For the smaller magnets to hold the doors closed I used something similar to the below

The secret door laches are these child locks


I used a variety of tools including a table saw, power drill, bandsaw, random orbit sander, router, miter saw and a KREG jig. However, any of these can be swapped out for hand tools or others tools. The cuts and joints are simple box joints held together with glue and pocket holes.

Step 2: Structure

The overall design is a flat base on top, with a front face that butts up to the front of the mantle, and the underneath two shelves that extend below the bottom of the mantle allowing for storage. I wanted to keep the shelves closed to maintain esthetic so I added doors and the front face. The top was made to be wide enough for the feet of the TV and the shelves are each 15" wide by 3" tall and 8" deep. I didn't grab any pictures of this process, but I made the lower boxes for the shelves and the made the top piece and front lip and attached it all with pocket screws.

Step 3: Front Doors

These were made by adding a walnut trim around two pieces of beetle kill pine. I cut each of the three front panels separately and then glued them up individually. This resulted in the variation in the glueing and is something I think I'd change if I did this again. Each door is mounted on some small 1" silver hinges I got from the big box stored and finished in a satin poly. I also routed out the top lip with a cove bit (I think) to create a hand hold. These are held in place with magnets in the top corner that align with magnets mounted into the white base. Both of the shelves have enough space for remotes, cables, controllers, etc. and that helps keep the top of the area much cleaner.

Step 4: Secret Shelf

In the middle, underneath, I mounted the secret shelf. Using the magnet-triggered safety locks, it's easy to set the shelf in and keep it up holding whatever you want to have in there and you cannot see that there is a door or access. The magnetic locks are very handy and two are definitely needed for any sort of weight. I currently have the two magnets needed to unlock the shelf hidden in other places so for the average person, you'd never know the space was even there, nor how to get into it. I offset my locks to one side to make it less predictable should someone want to get in. In hindsight thats kinda silly as if someone gets that far or is that motivated, they'll find another way in.

One note on these locks is to pay attention to the clearance they need when operating. It took me a couple tries (and some visible pencil marks) to get this right so they'd lock and unlock without too much fuss. They are very useful, and also work with other magnets (including the 1" round ones from the earlier link) and I have 4 more so I can use those in other situations.

I used the big round magnets to easily mount metal items into the shelf. I can mount money clips or small metal wallets etc. However, you need to take time to plan where the magnets are se as they can have an effect on the functionality of the magnets latches.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

Overall I like this shelving unit. I learned a lot of skills working with the KREG jig and a variety of tools, as well as experimenting with the magnetic latches. Credit goes to The King of Random on YouTube for the idea of the secret shelf. If I were to do it again, I'd spend more time finely sanding the pieces to get closer tolerances. I'd also build the front fascia as a single solid piece and then cut it up into three parts after. I initially made three separate pieces and that led to some challenges in glueing and why there are some larger than desired gaps between the panels.

Thanks for checking out my first instructable, please give me any feedback you have on the project or the instructable.

Hiding Places Contest 2017

Participated in the
Hiding Places Contest 2017

Furniture Contest 2017

Participated in the
Furniture Contest 2017