How to make a secret door / bookcase

Building a Secret Door or Book Case

Just like James Bond, you too can have that secret room, or just make the door less noticeable. This is a great DIY project that just needs a few tools and a little instruction.

Front of secret roomOpen Cabinet, secret room

Secret Room
Secret Room

Hey I’m Bob and I like to make stuff, today I’m gonna make a bookcase that’s also… a secret door. To allow the cabinet to swing out, what you see from the outside has to be larger than what’s on the inside So I made a face-frame out of one by pine. These pieces are a little bit thick for most built in cabinets, but they actually match the thickness of some existing cabinets in the space, it worked out pretty well in that way, I used pocket holes to connect all these pieces. Pocket holes are great because they’re hidden, and in this case it allows me to build the frame flat, without having to have the structure of the cabinet behind it yet.

I used a taller board on the bottom to match the base trim in the room. Then I cut some more pieces to use for the fronts of the shelves and attached them the exact same way. Next it was time to build the actual structure of the cabinet, that was gonna go behind the frame, I made this all out of MDF It’s so easy to work with, it’s really inexpensive, and it’s going to be painted anyway.

I used some glue and brad nails just to hold them in place. Then came back and drilled holes with countersinks and screwed them all together so they’d be nice and strong. The size of this box is the same size as the interior dimensions of the frame I added pocket holes all the way around the box as a nice clean hidden way to attach the frame I laid down a bead of glue and then put the frame in place. I lined up the corners and then used the Brad nails to hold the frame down before I put the pocket screws in. You’ll save yourself a lot of sanding If you get the pine and the MDF lined up before you connect them with pocket screws. The shelves were cut out of MDF as well and I used a square to draw lines so that I could line the shelves up when I put them in place with the pocket screws, again take your time to get the MDF and the pine lined up before you screw it all together. And for good measure, I just shot some brads down through the front faces of the shelves go back with wood filler and then sand it all.

I cut down pieces of 8 inch plywood and just really lightly brad nail them on. I want them to be able to pop out really easily in case of emergency. Before adding the hidden hinges I wanted to reinforce the side of the frame, I cut another piece of one by and spread lots and lots of glue on it Then I clamped it in place and let it dry overnight. For these particular hinges, you mark the center point and then you use the template and mark where the holes are gonna be. These hidden hinges are really awesome,  I marked off the necessary depth on the force drill bit and then drilled the holes. You want to make sure you don’t go too deep here, Because then the hinge will not sit flush with the face. Come back and clean up the hole with a knife and a chisel. Again, only make the holes as deep as the instructions tell you to put the hinge in place pre-drill the holes and then screw it in do the same for the other hinge. To account for some variation in the floor I had to make some 8 inch plywood inserts to put underneath the wheels when I attached them to the bottom of the cabinet. You’ll also notice that the wheel is at an angle on purpose.

Then it was just priming and painting the cabinet, I found a really cool Jules Verne novel to use as the secret latch I measured the width and the height and then carefully cut out all the pages as one chunk Hopefully I’ll be able to reuse this book. I cut down some scrap pine that I had and glued it all together to make up a fake interior to the book Before the glue dried I made sure to push the center piece out to force the spine into shape So that the spine wouldn’t be squishy when the book was on the shelf, I clamped it all together and let it dry. After it dried I cut off the excess on the backside and then ran it over the joiner just to smooth out all the edges. Then I sprayed the top gold to kinda look like the original pages, Put some glue on put the cover on, clamped it together to dry. Since I had thickened the wall where the hinges went I had to cut out some of the original frame to make allowance for it. Multi-tools like this are really handy for notching out pieces. I set the book case in place and then marked where the center of the hinges fell against the wall and use that line to place the template directly on the door frame. Then I made holes for the hinges, just like before.

Finally it was time to mount the book case This is really just a matter of getting the hinges lined up and getting them pushed in place and then adding screws I will tell you this is much easier with with someone helping you to hold the book case so that You can focus on getting the screws in straight You don’t want to take a chance of snapping one off And It doesn’t fit,, Here’s the problem The diagonal measurement of the cabinet has to be smaller than the opening, so that it can swing out, I had this figured out ahead of time when I was first doing the design But later the design process, we decided to change the depth of the shelf This threw the whole triangle off And I didn’t make allowance for it At this point, the simplest thing to do without starting over was just to cut off the corner with the saw My blade wasn’t deep enough so I had to go back with the handsaw to chop off the excess I knocked it out and it work just fine I cut some extra pieces of plywood to fill in the gaps from the inside Since they’re painted white and there’s going to be books in front of them You ended up not seeing them anyway and nail them into the MDF and it was all good to go Since the cabinet is so much deeper than the door frame than it’s in I had to build an offset to hold the latching mechanism I use some two by eight and some MDF to make a little shelf. That it could screw in behind the door frame Glue the pieces together and then countersunk some screws in from both sides. I added some pocket holes from the back side to make the joint even stronger to the door frame.

Then I screw it in with the two by four frame around the opening I use the drill bit from the pocket hole jig to notch out to knock out the door jamb and then screw it in I added a self-adjusting gate latch but it turned out that the movement was a bad thing So I pulled it out, knocked out the pin and then screw it right into my bracket It needed to be sturdy so that the door could catch on it every single time I added a one by piece of pine to the cabinet so that I had something sturdy to attach the latch to Re-drill some holes and then put the latch in place Screw in a simple handle into the back of the MDF shelf so you can close it from the inside It works I made a mark for the wire to pass through by moving the latch up and down Had to take the latch off and then drilled several holes and then cut it out with a knife Unfortunately this cause some tear out on the inside of the shelf but we came back later and painted it I use some double-sided tape and some felt to make sure that the book could move smoothly against the wall Screwed in an eyelet to the backside of the book and then wrapped wire in through it I started out with the picture frame wire and it turned out not to be rigid enough So later on, I swapped it out with the gate latch pull wire I’ll have the right item listed on the what you’ll need section on my site for this project I had to carve out a little bit of wood on the book to make sure the hinge was flushed Push the hinges far forward as you can and then screw it into the cabinet Make sure that it moves smoothly and then feed the wire back through the hole You’ll have to play with the wire until you get the right tension Because you wanna make sure that the book can both pull and push the latch And here it is all finished And overall I’m really excited about this I mean it works really well It works better than I thought it would and the friend that I made it for is really excited about it If you’re gonna make one of these be prepared to do lots of shimming and sanding and trimming to make it fit Especially if you’re putting it into an old construction The floor in this room is not level so I had to adjust the wheels to match the floor And this trim is not square so I had to adjust for that Just lots of little fixes to make it fit like I wanted it to fit Even though the latch is connected to the book and there’s a cable that you could grab and use by hand In case that cable were to come loose or break you can also push these panels out They’re just nailed with a few brads and so it would be really easy to get through there If you needed to in case of an emergency and even though we’re finished i’m still going to come back and work on it some more we’re going to add a third hinge just to support the weight a little bit more and it still needs quarter around along the bottom so that it matches up with the rest of the trim in the room

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