Built in Bookcase Door

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Project by Scott Wigginton posted 01-01-2009 07:31 PM 70169 views 26 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch


I was headed to a friends for a long weekend when he requested I help him build a bookcase as a door for what he would turn into a hidden room. He didn’t really have a plan, only some videos he had seen from youtube and his only tools were a drill and sawhorses. On top of that we only had one completely free day to work on the project. Not knowing exactly what we were going to build I loaded up my circ saw, jig saw, router, ROS, kreg system, some clamps, and lots of prayer.

The first night there I had to come up with a plan based on the materials he had on hand, one sheet of ply and a dozen 1×10s of clear pine. He wanted this bookcase to look like a built in and the room had wainscoting so I kept the design simple. Unfortunately the door frame it was going into was not that straight forward! It had a 5/8” transition from floating wood floor to tile and an asymmetric cinder block wall behind the studs (flush on the left, 8” offset on the right). I probably over engineered the solution but I was trying to make it fit as tight as possible while still having the clearance to open.


I really missed having a CMS and TS, I loathe making crosscuts with a circ saw and speed square. After cutting the ply and shelves to size I showed him how to use a router to cut dadoes, rabbets, and beaded roundover accents. The joints were supported with screws since I only had a handful of F-clamps and we didn’t have the time to let it cure proper anyway. This was my first project since buying a Preppin' Weapon Sanding Block and it was a huge improvement over the random block of wood I typically use. It was really nice for cleaning up the dadoes / rabbetts. After a couple more projects if I remember I”ll put up a review of it, but so far I feel it was $20 well spent.


The case construction was by and far the easiest part of this project, making it open smoothly was an ugly monster. The plan was to simply mount the bookcase on some casters and hinge it off the left side cinder block wall. After the first attempt we found out the floor was not perpendicular to the frame and it was higher on the side we swung toward. I showed him how to use a plunge router to mortise for the casters and clean them to final depth with chisels. Several trial and errors later we found a happy medium. What made this doubly hard was not only did it have to open smoothly, but the whole time we had to ensure the entire face remained flush with the wall so no one would know it was a door.

Hiding the opening

We picked up some matching trim from the BORG and hung it over the edge of the bookcase. Somehow we got it just right and with the light on in the hidden room and off in the other room, you could not detect it. We also added some strong magnets to the opening side & the frame to help hold it closed. We were originally planning on using some hidden dowels but the magnets were more than enough and kept it simple.

Wrapping Up

The best part of working out of his house is that I had to leave before we got around to painting, and you know just how disappointed I am about that! ;p

Overall he was extremely happy with the final result, and I am extremely happy that I have a dedicated woodworking shop!

-- Scott

15 comments so far

View gr8outdrsmn's profile


60 posts in 4796 days

#1 posted 01-01-2009 07:38 PM

Thats so cool. thanks for posting

-- Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

View clieb91's profile


4265 posts in 5278 days

#2 posted 01-01-2009 07:44 PM

Nicely done.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5305 days

#3 posted 01-01-2009 09:12 PM

Well done. I’ve thought about building one of these but haven’t figured out where to put it. When I do I’ll come back to the one you built for reference. thanks for sharing.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View oldskoolmodder's profile


802 posts in 5023 days

#4 posted 01-01-2009 10:00 PM

love the idea, very well executed. I agree with both comments about leaving before the painting and having a shop to work out of with (mostly) the right tools in it.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View Critterman's profile


601 posts in 5153 days

#5 posted 01-01-2009 10:56 PM

Great Job Scott, can’t tell it is there with it closed, and I guess that’s the point…LOL Overall looking at what you were working with an excellent job. Way to go.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View jSchrock's profile


48 posts in 4779 days

#6 posted 01-02-2009 01:44 PM

thank you i’ve been trying to talk the wife into letting me put in a bookcase door. After she saw this pic she’s agreed we do “need” one.

View Jim's profile


254 posts in 4988 days

#7 posted 01-02-2009 05:47 PM

Very cool! I’ve been planning to do one of these myself but am trying to figure out what to use for hinges that will support the weight of a loaded bookcase. I’d be interested to know how you dealt with that?

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 5055 days

#8 posted 01-02-2009 05:53 PM

Does this count as a hidden compartment for the Winter contest?!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 5669 days

#9 posted 01-03-2009 02:41 AM

that’s awesome, I love the idea of a hidden room in a house!

View Scott Wigginton's profile

Scott Wigginton

51 posts in 5088 days

#10 posted 01-03-2009 05:39 AM

Jim, weight was an obvious concern which is why the bookcase is mounted on casters. Even on casters I was worried about the possibility to overload it to the point where it would be difficult to use, so I designed it to discretely limit weight.

Primarily this was done by making the shelf depth 8 3/4” which knocks out the main culprits … college texts! The second method was by only having four shelves, but that was a consequence of our intention to use dowels to lock the case in position and hiding them in the oversized faces.

That was always a design compromise to achieve the function he wanted, and we ended up not using it anyway! Because of the larger face we needed extra height clearance, and this left us seeing more bookcase than I like. The salt in the wound is that we figured out another solution too late. I was frustrated about it but my brother was indifferent and I had to remember he is after all the customer and there’s a time to just let it go ;p

-- Scott

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5670 days

#11 posted 01-03-2009 06:46 AM

amazing challenge with the best of shops, but to pull this off in a day, in somebody else’s “kitchen” so to speak. remarkable achievement. great job!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 5244 days

#12 posted 01-03-2009 07:10 PM

Has someone been reading ‘The Diary of Ann Frank”? Wonderful idea Scott; well executed.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View titmas's profile


30 posts in 5249 days

#13 posted 01-06-2009 06:02 PM

very nice results. i admire you for having to work out of your comfort zone and under a time limit and yet still produce results that satisfied the customer. what type of hinge did you use?

View Krafter's profile


19 posts in 2249 days

#14 posted 12-21-2015 01:41 PM

That is a great bookcase door, like the way it finished out. I just built one for a new home and I will be using 4 SOS hinges and no casters. Waiting on home owner for installation time.

-- Krafter

View Krafter's profile


19 posts in 2249 days

#15 posted 12-21-2015 01:47 PM

I misspelled the hinge name.It is SOSS.

-- Krafter

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