So, you want to build a bookcase. Whoop-de-doo. It’s a rectangular structure with horizontal shelves. About as exciting as watching the grass grow, right? Now, what if I told you that your bookcase could be used to hide the best secret in your entire house?
Using a bookcase to hide a secret room is certainly not new. The concept has been used in many stories, movies, and even board games. But do you anyone who really has one? Maybe you do, and you don’t even know it. Well, here’s your chance to be the first one on the block to have a secret room hidden by a bookcase…or, are you really first?
- (2) ¼” finish plywood sheets
- (6) 1”x16”x8’ Select pine boards, pine project boards, or hardwood of your choice
- (6) 1”x2”x8’ select pine or hardwood to match.
- Murphy Door Kit (More about this later)
- Pocket screws, Miller dowels, or both (whichever you prefer for assembly)
1” wood screws
- Wood Glue
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Hand Planer
- Kreg KMA3200 Shelf Pin Drilling Rig
- Screw Driver
- Tape Measure
First, you need a small space in your home that can be essentially “walled-off” by this bookcase. Perhaps there is a small alcove on the side of the family room or your bedroom that lends itself to be hidden. Depending upon the floor plan of your home, you may even be able to hide an entire large room of your basement. This bookcase is the perfect way to hide that “man-cave” you have always wanted.
Now, about that Murphy Door Kit. The Murphy Door Company actually sells completed bookcases like we’re building, but where’s the fun in that? They also sell the hardware kit, which I think is the way to go. You can use the type of wood and create a style of bookcase that matches your home directly. The more this bookcase blends in to its natural surroundings, the more hidden your secret door will be.
You are essentially making two bookcases that get joined together in the middle by a full-length hinge. So, for every “left” bookcase piece, there is a mirror “right” piece.
Rip 2 boards 7 1/2” wide and 83 7/16” long. Market them “inside left” and “inside right”.
Rip 2 boards from the remaining pieces 7 ¼” wide and 83 7/16” long. These are “outside right” and “outside left”.
Rip 3 more boards to 7 ¼” widths and cut 18 pieces 28 ¼” long. Four of these will form the tops and bottoms of our shelf units. Two will serve as center shelves, which will be hard-mounted in place to add strength. The remaining 12 will be adjustable shelves, and will require trimming down by an eight of an inch or so, for easy placement inside the unit.
Trim the front edges of all of the shelf pieces with a router, if desired. Also, cut a rabbet on the inside back edge of all framing pieces to accommodate the plywood backing.
Cut the 1×2’s to match the lengths of the bookcase frame. These will be used to form a face trim on the framework. These trim pieces get mounted flush with the inside edges of the box created by the framework. Only one of the inside edges gets the trim – that way it covers the seam between the two sections. When the bookcase is closed. The top and bottom face pieces hide the slider hardware.
From the remaining piece of your lumber supply, rip a strip 7 7/8” wide and 59 ½” long and mark this “valance”. Now rip a 3 9/16” strip 59 ½” long and label it “valance back”. A piece 2 ¾” wide and 61” long gets marked “valance front”. And two pieces 2 ¾ x 8 5/8” will become “valance left” and valance right”.
Finally, cut the plywood sheets down to 83 7/16” by 29 3/8”.
The two outside pieces of the bookcase frame get the sliding door hardware attached to them, and a notch is required at the top and bottom to accommodate this. Follow the instructions provided for the hardware you buy. Mount a piece of trim board to the outside of this notch so that it will be completely hidden from view.
Next, drill the holes for adjustable shelving using the Kreg shelf pin drilling rig, then attach the trim board to the side pieces using miller dowels. (Note: If you are painting the bookcase instead of staining it, you can use screws and fill them before painting.) Also attach matching trim pieces to the top and bottom pieces of the frame in the same fashion.
Using pocket hole screws and glue, attach the top and bottom pieces as well as the fixed shelf to the sides. Be absolutely certain to keep everything perfectly square.
Attach the plywood backs using glue and nails or small screws. The bookcases are complete!
Using pocket screws and glue, build the valance. This is just a simple three-sided box made of the pieces you have already cut. There are reinforcing brackets (part of the Murphy hinge kit) that need to be attached to the inside of the valance box, and a roller track that gets mounted to the underside.
The lower roller track is the load-bearing element of this build, so it needs to be based in a piece of hardwood that gets firmly attached to the floor. Cut a dado down the length of hardwood so the roller track fits neatly into it. One and also needs a hole routed into it to accommodate the pivot hinge. See the hardware instructions for all of the details.
Now install the appropriate hardware to the top and bottoms of the shelving units and mount the long hinge on the backside to join the two pieces of your bookcase. With some help (yes, this is quite heavy now) stand the unit up on the base track, and mount the valance firmly to the wall studs at the appropriate height.
Your secret door/bookcase is now installed! The only thing missing is a clandestine lock to keep it from rolling open and exposing your hidden room.
On that center fixed shelf, set a sturdy book that you never plan to read. Open the book so that only the cover remains flush against the inside wall of the shelf, and drill a hole straight through the book and both bookshelves.
Attach a bolt through the bookshelf that won’t have the secret book with a nut on each side of the shelf wall.
Drill the hole on the side with the secret book large enough that the head of the bolt can pass through. Cut a 2-inch or so hole in the book cover and mount a piece of sheet metal to the inside. This sheet metal should have a notch in it that the bolt head will slide into when the book is pushed into the bookcase. Pull the book back and the bolt will “unlock” the secret door.
Cut the edge of the pages back far enough that you can mount a piece of wood between the covers, and screw both covers firmly into place. Attach a dowel rod to this piece of wood and drill a hole in the back of your bookcase in the appropriate spot to allow this dowel to stick through to the secret room. Moving this dowel back and forth allows you to open and lock the door from the inside.
Whether you want to just hide an ugly alcove only used for storage, carve out a private place for yourself, or create a truly hidden “safe room” in your house this bookcase may seem like a cheesy throwback to an old-fashioned movie concept. But it works, every time.
Hope you found this wooden bookcase plan useful, for additional step by step DIY woodworking plans visit JoineryPlans.com.