The Mysterious Bookcase




All my brother wanted for Christmas was a secret door. Since every self respecting man should have one.  I began by taking some measurements, doing some internet research and this is what I came up with.  The hard part was that he lives an hour away from me. So I had to build a mock door frame, transport it and hope things matched up. 

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Step 1: The Build

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures of the build so I'll explain it the best I can.

Sheet of 3/4" smooth plywood 
Sheet of 1/2 plywood
Lazy susan
Long bolt and washers for top pivot point
Misc. trim /spacer wood
Rubber wheel 6"
Wood glue
Trim to match house 
Gate latch with fishing string and special book for secret opener.

The Build
I begin by making a door frame to the exact measurements of my brothers closet.  The dimensions of the finished door came out to be 34" wide, 77" tall and 8" deep.   I assume if you are building this project you have enough wood working skills to make a bookshelf and your sizing will vary so I won't go into detail about that.

The door is a solid bookcase made from 3/4 smooth plywood and 1/2" regular plywood for the back.  Glued and screwed on all sides.  There are five attached shelves and adjustable shelf holes drilled at the top.  I made a template to help drill the holes all the correct width and height.  

One of the hardest parts was the hinge point.  I used a lazy suzan on some 2x4 blocks for the bottom and a long bolt for the top.  It took a lot of measuring and testing to get it centered right.  Adequate spacing was needed on the hinge side to just barely clear the door frame and still be covered by trim.
Most commercial doors have steel frames and don't need caster wheels.  Due to the weight of the shelves and contents we added a bed caster.  Which needs to be changed because it's marking my brothers soft wood floors.  
**Update.  New 6 inch rubber wheel replacing bed caster, installed a little bit higher and hidden with fake books.  It does not even hit the floor so I think this fixes the problem.

Step 2: Installation and Tweaking

Installation involved removing the closet door and trim.  Screwing in some wood blocks to the inside wall that would accept the top hinge bolt.  

Once the door was in place, I tested the opening many times and then secured the base with 4" screws.  

The latch bolt was installed to the interior door frame matching the latch height.  A fishing line was secured and run through the back of the door and connected to the secret book opener.
Hindsight note: Double or triple knot that fishing line or it might come off and your door is stuck closed.  

The secret door opening book was a really nice touch supplied by my brother.  I glued the pages together to make a solid area for attaching a small brass hinge and fishing line to pull open the latch.  

Step 3: Finish

My brother finished painting and loading with books and decorations.  I think it turned out really nice and  I'm told it's a great conversation piece when company comes over and he puts their coats away. 

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    58 Discussions


    2 years ago

    What kind of lazy susan did you use? I feel like most I"ve seen wouldn't support the weight.


    4 years ago

    I. Freaking. LOVE. This.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Instead of a wheel, you might be able to use loop (berber) carpet scraps Flip the carpet loop side down and secure it to a large piece of wood (staples go on the sides, not next to your floor). Screw block of wood to the bottom of your bookcase. Cover block of wood with moldings to hide it. You should now have your weight distributed evenly over a surface that will slide. I move furniture this way all the time by flipping carpet squares and placing them under furniture legs. The carpet glides easily over hardwood floors and smooth tile. You just need to make sure you have your allowances at the bottom of the bookcase correct, as weight will squish the carpet-- so add your bottom moldings at the very end. I am going to make one of these soon, and the wheels were going to be a problem, so I came up with the carpet idea.

    Ooh, that really would screw with your dates head in the morning. Fantastic! :-D Not sure about the step at the bottom though. If not being able to find their way didn't screw with their head the hitting the deck after tripping would. :-)

    Hi The step at the bottom was to help stabilize the whole unit. When I did a mockup in the workshop there was torquing of the whole cabinet. It wasn't a very elegant looking solution but the customer was happy.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is absolute genius. I love it. I just commented on another ible I always wanted to build a wardrobe around the door of my bedroom, imagine the look on your date's face in the morning trying to get out. LOL. Never did it though. Respect! :-)


    5 years ago

    I love this idea! So cool!


    5 years ago

    this is awsome ive always wanted one so this was a great helpee so thanks alot


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Love this! I've been searching the net for what seems like ages, looking for just this info. Great job!! Thanks a bunch for this!


    6 years ago

    I added this to my faves. Do I think I'll ever do it? No. But I get great joy knowing there exists a normal house with a secret door somewhere in this world. My dream...and I'm happy someone gets to live it :-)

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago

    Thanks it's nice to be appreciated. I'm working on a backyard roller coaster for my kids right now. I'll put it on instructables when it's done.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    awesome project, but it hurts me to see that you had to mangle some Classic Club books! I hope it wasn't one of the volumes I'm missing!!