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Designing a Secret Door using Drawer Slides

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Forum topic by HenryMerle posted 08-21-2020 07:12 PM 1103 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HenryMerle

7 posts in 259 days


08-21-2020 07:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: secret door hidden door drawer slides pallet wood pallet wall accent wall concealed door door

Hey all,

I’m designing a secret door in a pallet wood accent wall. Can’t use traditional concealed/pivot hinges, so I’m looking at using heavy dugy (500lb-rated) full-extension drawer slides to make a pull-out door (like a gigantic drawer in a cabinet).

Here is a link to a very short YouTube video where I show you the wall & talk through my design idea:
https://youtu.be/OUVrtr4GeCo

As well as a couple rough sketches I did on the computer to help illustrate (below).

What do you think of this concept? Is there any reason it won’t work? Any recommendations for how to make it better? (If I didn’t explain something well enough, just let me know & I’ll do better.)

Thanks, everyone.


12 replies so far

View xedos's profile (online now)

xedos

281 posts in 376 days


#1 posted 08-22-2020 04:02 AM

Should work ok. I’m guessing you’ve looked at the slides already? They are big $$$.

I’d suggest painting the wall behind black and using wide and random gaps between all boards as your likely
to still have a fair amount of play in the slides which will translate into sag on the face.

View SMP's profile (online now)

SMP

3933 posts in 981 days


#2 posted 08-22-2020 04:40 AM

In my experience you are better off putting the door on casters. Then you are just using drawer slides as a guide for what is basically a furniture dolly at that point. Works much better than trying to use drawer slides to leverage a ton of weight.

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Madmark2

2619 posts in 1663 days


#3 posted 08-22-2020 05:28 AM

Casters reveal the door via their tracks.

With the slides on just one side I’d be concerned about wracking. A pair on the left might prevent that.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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Lazyman

6969 posts in 2463 days


#4 posted 08-22-2020 11:58 AM

Drawer slides are designed to have the weight between them so don’t expect the pound rating to be accurate in the one sided configuration. Those slides are going to be expensive and I don’t see any reason that you cannot find a hinge that will work, especially since you are going to be adding the pallet wood paneling. The paneling could easily be used to hide any sort of robust hinge mechanism. I am guessing that the door framing is not load bearing so that gives you all sorts of leeway to cut into the framing for hinging mechanisms including one where the door completely swings out of the way of the door. To me, having the door in the way plus the interior framing required for the drawer slides just makes the design a pain. The door is already very narrow and adding the door in the way and the framing for the slides inside just makes the space less usable IMO.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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xedos

281 posts in 376 days


#5 posted 08-22-2020 02:40 PM

Guys – the reason he can’t use a hinged door of any type readily available is because of the design mandate to use random length pallet boards with staggered seams !

Until Henry decides to use a different finish schedule on the walls , suggesting hinged this or that is a waste of time.

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Lazyman

6969 posts in 2463 days


#6 posted 08-22-2020 03:01 PM

With such a narrow opening, yes, but if you move the hinge side jamb further over and use a hidden door hinge that attaches to the floor and top jamb, it could work. If you could move the right jamb over say 6” but have the hinge 3” from the jamb, the boards attached to the door could swing inward as long as they do not extend more than about 3”. If you can move it more, you can also widen the door for easier access into the closet. Since the door is hidden, it won’t matter if it isn’t centered.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

1768 posts in 802 days


#7 posted 08-22-2020 04:41 PM

Henry, everything you got looks like it would work, but the main problem is going to be the door sagging.
Because of the weight the door is going to want to push in at the bottom and pull out at the top. This is a common problem with flipper doors on an entertainment cabinet. They make specialty guides to stop that, but nothing I know of for what your doing.

Another idea would be to hang the door from the sides at the top. Give something like this a thought.

Don’t forget a peep hole so you know when it’s safe to come out.
.
.
.

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Aj2

3817 posts in 2873 days


#8 posted 08-22-2020 04:48 PM

I would simply make it a hatch style door that you lift and set it aside. The drawer slide idea doesn’t sound practical it’s too complicated. Stepping over the drawer slides it’s a trip hazard.
Interesting space but I would keep thinking.

-- Aj

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HenryMerle

7 posts in 259 days


#9 posted 08-22-2020 06:10 PM

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I got thinking more about the pivot hinge idea, especially with Lazyman’s recommendation of increasing the gap between the door jamb & door. It would work, though I’d do it as outswing rather than inswing, only because the closet is not very deep. I sketched out a rough plan. However, I’m not sure I could do a big enough gap to keep the wood plank spacing “legit”, i.e. as widely staggered as I want the boards.

The more I look at it, the more I really like LeeRoyMan’s suggestion of doing 2 drawer slides at the top & the model he provided.
- This eliminates the tripping hazard of a lower drawer slide.
- It eliminates the cumbersome track housing on the floor inside the closet.
- It lets me keep the wood planks staggered how I want on the face of the door.

Really, the only significant downside is that the door could be easier to kick in from the outside. I think I can mitigate this by (1) a latching mechanism that locks the door in place when closed (which I have an idea for) and (2) having the plywood door panel overlay the door jamb.

Here’s a quick rendering (bird’s eye view) of the pull-out door with 2 top slides.

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HenryMerle

7 posts in 259 days


#10 posted 08-22-2020 10:14 PM


In my experience you are better off putting the door on casters. Then you are just using drawer slides as a guide for what is basically a furniture dolly at that point. Works much better than trying to use drawer slides to leverage a ton of weight.

- SMP

The more I think about it, the more I think it’s a good idea to add casters. Especially placing both drawer slides at the top corners, I feel like the whole sliding apparatus will be very front-heavy and casters will help keep everything aligned. Probably 4 3” casters, fixed / no swivel, so that it rolls straight out. I think there’s a very slight downward slope away from the door, not enough to negatively affect things.


Casters reveal the door via their tracks.

With the slides on just one side I d be concerned about wracking. A pair on the left might prevent that.

- Madmark2

Do you think that’ll be an issue on a hard floor? It’s a sort of engineered laminate plank with a thin layer of cork underneath. Maybe using softer urethane casters will help prevent any tracks?

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LeeRoyMan

1768 posts in 802 days


#11 posted 08-22-2020 11:08 PM


The more I think about it, the more I think it s a good idea to add casters. Especially placing both drawer slides at the top corners, I feel like the whole sliding apparatus will be very front-heavy and casters will help keep everything aligned.

- HenryMerle


That is the reason I drew it with those side supports.
Your door shouldn’t weigh more than 150 – 175 lbs.

The guides should be more than enough to carry the weight in and out. You say 44” (500lb rated) guides, You probably won’t pull it out more than 32” or so.
I wouldn’t worry about it, those guides aren’t even going to feel the weight!

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Lazyman

6969 posts in 2463 days


#12 posted 08-23-2020 12:54 PM

Is the primary purpose of making this hidden to be a secret panic room or an interesting closet? As a panic room LRM’s design will be the best way to use drawer slides but as a closet it reduces the headroom for the door when entering, creates obstructions internally because of the supports and may make the the closet function a little annoying. I still think that you would be better off widening the door frame so that you can use the much cheaper hidden door hinge hardware, which also does not require castors for support. It is usually better to use the tool designed for the job than to adapt another to the task.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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