Bookcase Secret Entrance




About: Have always been a " figure out how to do it" kind of fellow, never having the right tool or experience just helped foster it along. Love the whole concept of sharing the HOW behind a project and have found...

Every man cave needs a special entrance. Working from home keeps me locked up in this room more hours than I can count, the least I can do is have a fun way of getting in. This instructable will show how I made my own "secret" entrance and for the most part my own safe room.

Due to the placement of the office one would not expect a door to be where the book case is located. People who were not aware of the previous layout of the house had no idea there was an additional room.

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Step 1: In the Beginning...

I walked into Home Depot with an idea and a small amount of funding. I noticed the Plywood just sitting there grabbed a scrap of paper and started calculating my dimensions. This was back in the glory days of Home Depot where they didn't charge extra for custom cuts. I estimated the current size of the door, adding for coverage, picked a real shelf depth that would be usable, and came up with the measurements for a 6 shelf towering bookcase.

Out of one board I was able to get the frame and shelves, the other the back and some extras.

Step 2: Prep the Wood for Assembly...

First thing I did (post sanding all the rough cuts) was install these little feet to protect the floor. The 2 longest boards were the sides of the bookcase.

Step 3: Measure Out the Base Shelf...

I wanted the first shelf above the floor so put a board under it to get to the right height and marked off where it should be mounted on each of the uprights.

Step 4: Mount the Base Shelf...

I then used L brackets to secure the shelf to the side walls. Note - always drill pilot holes for the screws to help prevent splitting.

Step 5: Complete the Frame...

Added the top piece and mounted that directly onto the sides using longer wood screws. I added a decorative bracket for support in the upper right and left hand corners. Now the general frame is built.

Step 6: Adding the Shelves...

The first shelf was the middle one. I wanted to add this first to further support the structure. Since I was doing this alone I had to come up with a way to hold the board in place, 2 people would have helped at this point.

Once this shelf was mounted all the others were marked out in pencil on both sides and pilot holes were drilled. Each shelf was mounted with wood screws, and supported with L brackets for further support.

Step 7: Baby Got Back...

Time to put the back on. Since the back is actually going to become the door it too has to be of heavy construction. Took the remaining large piece of plywood put it up against the shelves and marked off where each shelf was. Then when i flipped the back around I was ready to drill into each shelf as well as secure the frame. This will make the shelves sturdier after I cut them into a door.

Step 8: Operation Time...

Time to make the cut, this is the part of the project I was dreading, it is right here you either have a total success or a huge pile of firewood. I marked where the hinge should lay, outlined the whole door. Then I had to factor in clearance and figure out how to open something with no give. The answer was to cut the part that swings out at a 45 degree angle. Did a straight cut for the hinge, then I set the blade in the jig saw to 45 degrees and cut the rest of the door. Started by drilling a whole just big enough for the blade of the saw in the corners of the door and then worked my way around the door.

Once cut I screwed in the hinge. I flipped the unit back up and continued the cut on the shelves as the jigsaw only provided a start on them. Once all the shelves were cut I was very happy to see the door actually did open as hoped for.

Step 9: A Little Bling...

Now to cover the cuts and make the item look more professional, I added some molding. Very simple cuts nothing fancy. For the molding I had to shave it down just to keep everything uniform. I used paneling nails on the big molding and pin nails for the shelf trim.

This helps cover up the cuts and gives the illusion it is one piece. It also helps dampen any light leak when you are in the secret room and the other room is dark.

Step 10: Our Star Without Any Makeup.

Took the unit outside and flipped it upside down to start the staining process. I wanted a darker color to hide any imperfections. Stained it upside down first then let it dry and did a coat of polyurethane, flipped it over and repeated.

Step 11: Application Time...

All dressed up and ready to go. I stained the entire piece and then added two coats of gloss to get to the finished product.

Step 12: Little Pig Let Me In...

The only thing missing is a doorknob of sorts. On the top shelf I drilled a whole and fed a cord down to the lock. This would allow me to open the gate lock from outside the room. To cover up the obvious string I drilled a hole in a cassette tape and tied off the string on it. Pulling the video cassette will in turn pull up the latch and open the door. Please see the video on my blog here for a better view of how this worked.

Step 13: The End...

All in all a very satisfying project. Few warnings should you try it - the item is heavy and hard to manage, get help to move it around. The bookcase has to be seated firmly against the opening with the door portion swinging INTO the room or the weight of the door will topple the unit. Do not ever open the door with the bookcase free standing, will fall over and damage anything and anyone in its way to the ground. Be careful entering and exiting, the span is narrow and you have to walk in almost sideways if you are a full grown man. The corner edges of the shelves are sharp, another reason to tread with caution.

Makes for a nice prop too, see my little bookcase staring in a youtube film here

Please feel free to check out my other instructables, just finished one on home made rings created from US coins called "Double Sided Coin Rings or How to ruin a perfectly good Quarter" can be seen here..

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    24 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 13

    cool instructable. one of the easier ways to do this that i've seen that is still reasonably hidden as well as reasonably priced. i also love your low tech but ingenious solution for the doorknob to the secret entrance.

    one question, is there a way to disguise the cuts on the shelves at the front of the case?

    2 replies

    thank you for the kind words, I was really working without a hard fast plan. Next one I would make several changes. To be honest the cuts on the shelves stood out to me beyond belief. the only way to mask them was from the front by cutting the molding so it over layed the piece before it. The further out the contents of the shelf stood the better masked the cut was as well. That book case was in place for at least a year and honestly no one ever caught onto it until shown.


    Reply 2 years ago

    There is what I'd call veneer tape that can be glued (old fashioned) or ironed (newer fashioned) on. I have a mahogany countertop on the wet wall in my kitchen and you'd never believe it is made of plywood (admittedly marine but still plywood). I'm sure it's sold lots of places; if i recall correctly mine came from Boucher lumber.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very impressed, and I agree with those others who've commented here that this project is definitely cooooooool...!

    One thing I was wondering about, did you ever consider using a pocket-door back with outward folding shelves? I wouldn't even be thinking about it, though, if I hadn't seen your project here.

    Great job!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love it! I've seen a few of these on instructables and I keep bookmarking them. I and finishing our basement, and my office is in the back corner. I think something like this would be perfect to hide my office door. Except the VHS tape. 1) I don't even own any DVDs at this point, and 2) I am OCD and would never have a video on it's side with more stacked on top. Makes me cringe ;)

    1 reply

    Glad you liked it, thank you! When you do it it's your bookcase you can stack them anyway you like - side by side, the same amount on each shelf, by color, and you do not need to use a VHS - I originally used a book but the Zorro tape had special meaning. .


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I wish I had a room I could hide! I'd do this just for the cool factor. My house is not built in a way that a hidden room wouldn't be uber obvious. COOL IBLE!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Looks great to me. The only thing that I might change would be the rope to open the latch. A magnetic operated latch or selonoid with remote button would be two possibilities. Well done !


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I did one of these. Always nice to see different ideas. I've not uploaded any of my "creations", but might be a good time to start.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    instead of the rope in the VHS you could use an handle hidden in a fake book !

    i see the door frame ! You could fix a thick wood behind the door to mount on it a normal lock , and then mount an handle on a fake book !

    1 reply

    Thank you for the reply and that would be a great way to go if I had used the existing door jamb. In my version the bookcase itself has the door built in and I used a hook type latch so I just needed to pull the release up. My goal was to make the unit not dependent on the existing frame.

    Actually, yes there is one putting up that vid soon. Had an old outdoor b/w camera I made a fake book cover for and it keeps an eye on the room outside.


    5 years ago

    i always love these types of instructables. i just need my own place before i can build one! great work.