Not just a bookshelf

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Project by MakingAMess posted 06-11-2010 05:29 AM 2124 views 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Not just any old bookshelf.

The minute we moved into our house I knew I wanted to build this. It is a replacement door for the cold room under the stairs. What house would be complete without a secret door, eh? If I can only talk my wife into having a fireman’s pole from the living room to the basement everything will be complete. The pre-finishing pictures show the details best, I’ll have to work on my picture taking (I’ve been relying heavily on photoshop up till now).
The doorway is only about 1.6m high by 0.6m wide (5 1/2’ x 2’) so it is not readily apparent that this is actually a door. It would have been much easier to conceal the hardware and opening if the door was to swing into the room but unfortunatly the space is quite tight inside the room and the door would not clear the shelving unit.
The unit is all pine as I was sure there’d be a few costly mistakes. Thank goodness every once in a while I remember to measure 2x and cut once. It’s amazing though how a few bucks worth of stain can make cheap wood look like moderately priced wood. The shelves are all dovetailed to make it rigid enough to support some weight. I finished it with 3 coats of a red and black polyurethane mixture and boiled linseed oil. The door is held closed by two plate magnets on the back of the door frame on the hinge side.
The challenge was how do I hide the opening around the shelf without affecting the door movement. I went with two layers of trim around the door. One attached to the wall and the other attached to the door.
This is necessary with an out swinging door because the shelf has to be about 8mm narrower than the opening for the back corner to clear the door frame when opening. It worked out pretty well though. The only thing I would have done differently is to make better accomodation for removing the hinge pins. As it is I had to carve out some of the trim on the lower hinge to be able to get the pin in and out. The top one was a little easier to accomodate as I ended up only having to making the top piece of trim removable.

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4551 days

#1 posted 06-11-2010 06:31 AM

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 4039 days

#2 posted 06-11-2010 12:00 PM

I really that. I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time,,

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 4001 days

#3 posted 06-11-2010 01:12 PM

SWEEEEEET!!! I have really really wanted to do this little trick for a long time. I think there is a closet in one of my rooms I could use to pull this trick off.

-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

View michaelray's profile


232 posts in 4428 days

#4 posted 06-11-2010 04:24 PM

good job. something I’ve wanted to do for while too. got the perfect spot but other projects always take priority.

-- [email protected]

View Yekrub's profile


47 posts in 3975 days

#5 posted 06-11-2010 05:35 PM

Great job. That is a really cool idea. Looks great too.

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 4170 days

#6 posted 06-11-2010 09:07 PM

Very cool. A little dark paint on those hinges and they would almost disappear.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4662 days

#7 posted 06-12-2010 02:52 AM

Nice project …are the plinth blocks going to remain white ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Vicki's profile


1134 posts in 4319 days

#8 posted 06-12-2010 03:28 AM

Fantastic idea!!! It looks real nice.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3984 days

#9 posted 06-12-2010 04:11 AM

Good job on the secret door. Let us know if you get her talked into the firepole to the basement!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View MakingAMess's profile


15 posts in 3940 days

#10 posted 06-12-2010 07:48 PM

Thanks for the comments and compliments.
I think I will keep the plinth blocks white. They help to tie together the white and dark trim pieces.

View pceresia's profile


7 posts in 1075 days

#11 posted 02-15-2018 03:23 PM

I am intrigued by hidden bookshelf doors. I have a suitable linen closet that should work with a 28×80 framed opening for an out swing door. What i would really like to find are some detailed plans hopefully with pictures and an explanation as to how to calculate placement of the pivot hinges. A cool latch system would also be neat.
I’d appreciate any direction you could provide.

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