Door Hidden By Bookcase Is A Marvel Of DIY Engineering

Taking on a giant build just to hide your shotgun collection may seem a bit over the top. But we couldn’t be more impressed with the project. [Korostelevm] did an amazing job of hiding a small closet with a bookcase-door. It’s something straight out of a Hardy Boys novel.

Possibly the most important part of the build is figuring out how to hinge all the weight a bookcase will carry. His solution was to use a set of four heavy-duty casters. He cut off the wheels from one pair and the mounting brackets from another. By welding the brackets on in place of the wheels he has a sturdy way to mount both the frame and the bookcase. When closed the unit latches using a strike plate and lock set from a door. This is connected to a book using some cabling and pulleys. As you’d expect, just find the right hard-cover and tilt it toward you to open the hidden storage behind. [Korostelevm] shows off the final product after the jump.

88 thoughts on “Door Hidden By Bookcase Is A Marvel Of DIY Engineering

      1. It wasn’t about hiding a shotgun or anything for that matter, just a fun project to do. We talked about putting it on the internet before we even started. If anything, it actually makes the room look nicer.

        A safe is a way more effective to protect those things and we know that.

        1. a safe is only “safe” if no one but the owner knows where it is. Otherwise the perp simply needs to wait for the person with the combo to show up and convince them to open it.

          1. Safer if even the owner doesn’t know where it is (But that would beat the entire point of hiding it), but hey think someone would notice this if they’d shake it up a bit

    1. “Now listen to me very carefully. With all of your might, shove on the other side of the bookcase. Is that perfectly clear?”

      Looks like a beautiful build; this is the style I plan on going with when I build my private library.

  1. I had always wanted to do this for my previous home. It had a good-sized closet under the stairs. When my grand-daughter used to ask what was behind that door, I’d tell that was where the people under the stairs lived!

      1. This will take one to the bearings themselves However just like with the modified casters the ball bearings probably not taking any appreciable load in the upper pivot, with the sheet metal holding the races together taking load first, the same would be so with the lazy susan bearings. While it pretty much be overkill, this for the top likely would last generations. Who ever dismantles the home would comment back in the day they built things to last.

      2. Mcmaster never fails to awe. Some of those are incredible.

        Personally, I would try to use self closing hinges for refrigerators first. Maybe ones from commercial units are beefier. Then again I have seen a grown man, drunk as all hang off a fridge door and nothing bad at all happened.

        To the door anyway.

    1. I have a bookcase door in my house that was built by the contractors with all OTS parts, sorry I don’t have more specific info but it IS doable with commercial parts. I can tell you that my bookcase is MUCH bigger than that one, about 3 feet wide, and uses a quite small caster on bottom corner of the swinging edge which rolls on the bamboo flooring on the backside of the door to share the load with the hinge.

      1. Yea, but then you have a wear-track from the small caster on the floor.

        And where’s the small bit of piano wire to disable the explosive in the closet? Maybe I’ve watched too many bond films….

  2. I would have used small stool sized ball bearing turntable, availability biggest box store or online. About 6-8 inches square and quite thin. Maybe too big?
    Precious metals anyone. It scary to read the table of elements on Wikipedia. In many elemental listings “known sources of Xx…10 to 30 years at present usage”!

  3. You could reduce some of the hinging and balance problems by putting a turntable directly under the center of the bookcase. Of course, then your bookcase would have to be wider, but that might not be so awful. Bonus: If you wanted, you could swivel it around to have the opposite side face outward. One side displaying your secret stolen artwork, the other side suitable for guests to see.

  4. That is Nice. A good concept for keeping your high $$ stuff. The Safest safes are always concealed (and to actually get used by the owner, they need to be easily accessible). Otherwise a burglar just has to wait for the person with the keys or combo to show up and the “persuade” them to open it. Also, it is important to leave a “decoy” safe or lock box with token (fake) valuables and documents with a little bit of cash. (Old foreign coins can work well too, put them in holders and mark them notes like “high grade”, “$180.00+” . The decoy has to be easy enough to break open (or even remove). Your Wife’s Jewelry Box she just love’s to Display should be filled with Expensive looking costume jewelry with her Real Bling stored out of sight. (look at estate sales, you can usually pick up bags for next to nothing (especially the last day of the sale). Oh yeah, anything touching the floor is a no-no. Also, spend the extra time and money to install a pressure or contact switch for the lights ( so no one can accidentally leave one on inside). All the other hardware options are okay.

    Personally, I would use SOSS hinges, found here:

    Happy Hacking, Ursus.
    This would be a great place to keep your Vaporizer Collection!

    1. I can help you with that.
      Apart from believing that civilians should be be allowed to own guns, let alone store them loaded in their home, I also don’t think the mechanism for opening will prevent the guns from being stolen, which is one of the biggest reasons not to let civilians own guns.
      It is not uncommon for a burglar to ransack the place, trashing everything including the book-shelfs. A solidly fixed book will definitely cause further investigation. This leads to the discovery of the guns which will now be used for gun crime.
      A less obvious mechanism would help, but just not having guns is the best solution.

        1. Well, If you look at the argument that people need guns to protect their families and homes, then you need to ask the question : do guns really protect or just provide the illusion of protection?
          So are there cases where a legal gun is used for personal protection? Yes, there are, not nearly as much as the gun lobbies cite, but it happens. That number, however isn’t nearly as high as legal guns being used for domestic violence and suicides. That’s the first problem.
          Secondly, most guns were once legal. Some are illegally imported, some are straw purchases, a certain number are embezzled and sold by dirty gun shop owners and a certain amount is stolen out of legality.
          The odds that you will ever use your gun for protection is statistically smaller then it being stolen. So for every X guns legally bought, you put Y guns on the street which you have a very poor chance of protecting yourself against. In that sense, you are making reality less safe just to have an illusion of safety.

          In a society where guns are arbitrarily available and accepted, which is really a culture of violence, it is nearly impossible to root out the gun existing in illegality due to the sheer number and the difficulty in recognizing them. The result of this is a downwards spiralling arms race fuelled by paranoia and people. Essentially everybody is stacking up the arsenal to protect themselves form them self, which only aggravates the problem.

          The only way to stop this madness, is more then unambiguously ban all guns for home “use”. It has to be a mentality change to get rid the violent aspect. With guns being less acceptable and all guns being illegal, the removal process of those items out of society will be a reachable goal.

          Perhaps a slight temporary increase in gun-crime can follow like in Australia. I would expect sensible and honest people to give up the guns before the idiots who are more likely to do harm, but soon enough these will be located due to the mentality change and, like in Australia, crime will go down.

          This is why the argument that you need a gun for you own protection is flawed. If you feel that perhaps the argument that you need guns to protect your “freedom” from tyrannical governments or that perhaps you think the US constitution is like scripture, set in stone and that it cannot be changed or revised, then I’ll be happy to burst that bubble also.

          In the end, an armed society isn’t a polity society. An armed society is a scared and paranoia society.

          1. You do realize that by wanting to ban all guns, you are actually advocating only one group of people to have guns, and use them to forcibly take guns from people who have never committed a crime (except owning guns). How can you guarantee that this group of people will then (after presumably succeeding) give up their monopoly on the use of force so we can live in a peaceful world? The largest killer of peaceful people is government (see every “cleansing” action in the past & present).

            And then, how can you guarantee that some people will not be crazy enough to just find other ways of killing peaceful people? Maybe we should rather work on the root of the problem, rather than on the symptoms? People get crazy, some are born that way, they will find ways to harm others, and have been doing so for ever now, and until we find out how to cure these poor sods, we need a way to protect ourselves from them, and it better be a way that levels the playing field, allowing , say, a 12y girl to square up against a 6′ wannabe-rapist martial-arts expert, or against a whole gang of wannabe-assailants. Tasers will only get her so far, sometimes you need more stopping power.

            You might say that this sort of thing is what the police is for, but surely you know the old adage “When every second counts, the cops are a few minutes away”, and then there are multiple court-precedents that establish that law-enforcement has no responsibility to protect citizens (google: legally police protect). They will however gladly show up afterwards, and search the bodies for fingerprints, ans maybe cite the homeowner for various minor violations, etc. Then there’s the fact that cops are people too, which makes them just as corruptible as anyone else, except that they are seen as authority figures, which opens up many more doors for them than for “normal” (potential) criminals.

            This has nothing to do with paranoia, all people are different, you never know who will decide to act crazy or criminally, so not being prepared to act in defense of yourself or others is just plain stupid.

          2. voxunulla, you are a fool. Instead of citing vague statistics, how about some hard numbers with their references. Preparedness against an emergency that never materializes does not equal foolhardiness, it equals luck. Lack of preparedness against an emergency that does come to pass, on the other hand…. As to the Constitution, the 30 or so Amendments made to it in it’s 200 plus year history say everything about its ability to be altered. It was always meant to be changed, but also meant to be exceedingly difficult to change so as to protect it (and hence the citizens it represents) from the political flavor of the month. Zombies, burglars or over zealous govt. types are just different incarnations of the same thing, a clear and present danger to ones hearth, home and family. And it is up to each person, in a free society to determine for themselves how and when to defend it from what.

      1. I know :( I just couldn’t leave it alone! As for statistics just going by reported incidents of civilians using guns for protection it out numbers criminal offenses well over a hundred to one. Meaning you are far more likely to use a gun to protect your self than to have a crime successfully committed against you. That only holds true for actual gun owners though. If you don’t own a gun then the only way a gun can help is via cop or helpful citizen. Cops are slow and criminals typically avoid bystanders. Vox has shown his lack of thought on the subject by his comment on suicide, suicide dose infact make up the vast majority of “gun homicides” in the US. Take away the suicide numbers and the US gun crime rate drops impressively. But his rationale that guns are at fault for suicide is blatantly false. his idea of addressing the problem by ONLY removing the first most convenient tool and leaving a still suicidal individual untreated is at the root of the anti gun mentality. You might save a life here or there in the case of a “moment of passion” but the idea that you can force someone who wants to die to live by removing just one lethal option? The belief that removing guns from gangsters motivated to kill by billion dollar illicit markets will stop the killing is simply stupid. The odd nutjob aside we know exactly what causes the bulk of the crime in this country and a lot of it is easily fixed. Harsh penalties did nothing to end the original gangster era, ending prohibition did though. Poverty is the other major source and harder to deal with but not impossible.

        What really gets me about the current talk on guns and crime is all the wasted opportunity to do something meaningful. So much effort on pushing gun laws through and so little on meaningful preventative measures :(

        1. That is about as well put as I’ve heard it, so you are forgiven for the jinx.
          i will take exception to one thing you said, however. I do not believe that poverty and violent crime are related as much as people would be led to believe. My Parents and Grand Parents were poor as dirt through much of the early 20th century. The also owned guns. With the exception of occasionally poaching game for the table, none of them had ever committed a crime even during the hardest of circumstances. I think what has happened with the war on poverty is that the government by simply giving money to the poor with no strings attached has unintentionally created a sense of entitlement to things (money, food, clothing and shelter) among the poorer segments of society, who, instead of being thankful for the help are pissed that they don’t have more (or possibly resentful at the fact that they are still in the position they are in). There are also plenty of people that come to this country fleeing conditions that most westerners would find it difficult to survive in, yet grateful for just a chance at self determination, adopt lifestyles that are both productive and law abiding.

    1. That may become necessary. There is an evil tide beginning to flow. First off you’ve got shows like “Hoarders” that attempt to marginalise and demonise the owning of “stuff” at all, then you’ve got lifestyle blogs telling you that more than a handful of books on a bookshelf is “clutter”. Then I’ve also seen the comment in the media that there’s “no need” to own physical books in these days of eBooks. Then for a full on Fahrenheit 411 dress rehearsal, I personally know of one case where a person was ordered by the Fire Department to clear their basement of boxes of books under an “improper storage of flammable materials” excuse. There’s definitely the beginning eddies in a current of popular opinion that leads to “no reasonable person needs to own books” after all, that’s what public libraries are for, and there’s “all those” eBooks, which by the way, you never own and can be deleted/locked at the whim of whoever is in control of the issuer. Extend your paranoia antennas just a little further and the interest of security services in what citizens take out of the library is also deeply worrying, and it is also known they have interests in what eBooks are downloaded and what is read online. … Now, it doesn’t take much extrapolation to figure out that first a government wants to record something, then when it thinks it’s got a handle on that, they want to regulate it, then when they have the tech/apparatus to do that, they want to control it completely… I don’t know if there is collusion between all these separate elements of proto anti-book sentiment, but when they get big enough to realise their agendas coincide, there sure as hell will be.

      Now the problem with defending against this, is that the bottom 60, 70 or even 80% of the IQ spread in the general populace, may be easily convinced that their needs are fully served by the latest trashy novels in eBook format and access to sites such as eHow or instructables, and may easily be persuaded to be, if they are not already innately, suspicious of the “smart people” who want anything more than that.

      Google ran into IP and legal hurdles in freeing the info locked up in 20th century printed material, licensed eBook reproduction of this is limited, even today, there is voluminous offline publication of significant material. Or if it is electronic, access is severely limited. However, the general populace may easily be convinced that what is there is sufficient and hoarding more than 20 examples of printed material is deviant.

      Then it could be said, if you want to not have to hide your books in the long term, you might give consideration to the merits of gun ownership, in general, if not personally.

      Though this was not really intended to be a lead-in to a “pro gun” POV, that was more of tangential topic tie-in, I am just trying to say that if we do nothing about the upswell in anti-book “thought” (Really willful ignorance best describes it) then in 10 years time the comment above might not seem very funny at all. I would counsel you all to participate in vigilant activism against any type of anti-book thought you encounter. When I first encountered it, I laughed at the pure ignorance of it, but like a slow acting virus, it seems it’s catching….

  5. I’d have it slide out then pivot to the side. That way the entire trim frame will move with the case and eliminate any chance of telltale gaps or paint chips.

    Tying the latch to a book is a great way to get your hide discovered when a crook or government agent tosses the place. A quick hand sweep to clear the shelf and there it is.

  6. kick ass. love it. though it comes to my mind, that once somebody tries to checkout the books the cat is out of the bag…… sooo… if i;; ever make one like that i’ll employ wireless solution :) either simply magnet switches, and magnet in the book, or some rfid with tag embedded in the book…

    1. A better means would be a mechanical magnetic latch. Unless the book with the precisely calibrated permanent magnet hidden in its spine is placed against the correct side of the correct shelf, the spring loaded magnet inside will always be in a position to interfere with the manual latch release. Once in place, pull on the correct board of the book case, and then it opens.

      No power required, sweeping all of the shelves’ contents on the floor reveals nothing.

      1. Why does the book need a magnet?? Why not just a iron/nickel plate (that looks like a cd in a reference book)? That way, who’s to tell what’s what and if it sets off a metal detector, it’s a cd (you’d have to be an idiot not to notice it, but then again…).

      2. Whatabout having the pickups of a theremin behind the shelf or in the wall beside, then making it unlock on a gesture sequence? :-D

        Would be quite secure, especially if you put a note on the front door, “All picks, axes and wrecking bars to be left in the umbrella stand, thank you.”

  7. Why not a strong latch, wired to a knock-based password detector? When locked, it would require a sledgehammer or a crowbar to recognize that it isn’t an ordinary bookshelf, but the owner can come and go as he pleases.

    Bonus points for a light switch (or a button in a bust) in an obscure part of the house (e.g. under the stairs) that acts as a two-part key for the door. Of course, that leaves the switch prone to being left on, but that’s easily fixed by having a timer in the code which toggles after the door has been closed for a length of time.

    1. Those are some great ideas. Instead of a light switch, maybe it’s just a toggle button that beings the timer, and the button is just a piece of crown molding somewhere that “just happens to be” loose enough to push in on one side, like a long bow spring, under which the button lies.

      They could alternatively get one of those strong encrypted wifi/nfc/bluetooth door locks “off the shelf.” as it were, and then his phone would be able to do it. He’d just have to be sure his phone is secure as well.

      He could buy an old-timey safe, and knock the back of it out (super difficult so maybe buy a broken one?), bolt the whole thing down so it looks like he just bolted his safe to his built-in bookshelf, and when you open it, there could be a keypad to enter in a RSA SecurID one-time use code, for two factor authentication.

      Maybe a retina scanner and some sort of stress test to ensure that he’s not under duress and being forced to open the door? With some kind of shape charge to destroy whatever it is behind that door he doesn’t want them to see, or a thermite detonator to burn whatever it is down (usually hard drives)?

      I could spend the rest of the month thinking of stuff to do with a bookshelf secret door. I probably will.

      On the practical side of this whole discussion, if you are undertaking this project, I think bar stool swivels are cheaper, and bear up to like 500 lbs.

  8. Personally, I think I would route out a one inch wide slot into the bottom of one of the lower shelves, then hide a loop of wire inside the slot. Sorry, but the book is cliche by this point, and a loop of wire hidden below eye level is more likely to go unmissed by a potential burglar.

        1. Ransacking a place isn’t just a juvenile act of trashing a place for the fun of it. The methodology of ransacking finds the most hidden valuable in the least amount of time.
          Emptying the bookshelves in one swoop is a tried and tested method to find al kinds of stuff you might be looking for.
          A book securely fixed to the shelf will be found before any drawer is opened and the hidden room will only be a short investigation away.
          This system is almost designed to be found in the one scenario where you would like it to remain hidden.

  9. Security is achieved in layers, and a hidden room or safe is definitely a good layer but more are needed to take full advantage of the stealth aspect of the secret space. Decoy spaces are good, and it’s probably helpful for some people to have a secondary “secret” space they can show off to friends since it’s so much fun to show off stuff like that, lol. Having two spaces means your friends can know how cool you are AND you’ll still have an actual secret space.

    Granted, showing off your cool hidden room will clue people in that you might have more than one, but that’s why it’s best to not show things like this off (not that anyone was proposing showing their secret room off or anything, it’s just that some people can’t help themselves).

    Another consideration is exactly what will be stored in the space and who is it being hidden from? For example, guns in a wood-framed space would be detectable with a metal detector, though the average burglar won’t be using one of those. If the police have a warrant to search the place, they tend to be thorough enough to find these kinds of things so they’re best used for stuff we don’t want stolen but are not otherwise legally awkward (if warrants are being issued, you already got big problems). Secret rooms, as opposed to small stashes, are easily found by someone who has the time to take some measurements and with a laser rangefinder it doesn’t take long (I found a space that was only 9 inches by 16 inches inside my walls this way that turned out to be where the flue from an old furnace used to run).

    And would the ransacker know what they were looking for? That can change the approach one takes; if it’s a random burglary then uncovering a stash usually results in assuming that what was found in it was what was being hidden. But that might not be the case since another layer of security can be (and should be) misdirection; under the not-very-well-hidden loose floorboard or whatever the burglar finds what looks like important documents, some fake jewelry or incidental valuables, and something that alludes to a deeply personal secret like a stack of hardcore gay porn mags or DVDs (only if the stash is that of a heterosexual male). The gay porn or bondage gear or whatever (basically anything that’s 100% legal but awkward to be “found” with; this is relative to the individual making the hiding place) suggests that it’s a genuine secret stash because it’s generally something that a supposedly-straight man would keep hidden for real so it lowers the chance that the burglar or whoever will keep looking for more stashes or deeper into the one they found (so they won’t find the hidden space within the hidden space that was under the decoy porn collection!).

    I only know of one case of a large hidden room that wasn’t found during a search by police with a warrant, and it was accessed by a trap door under a rug in the center of the floor of a basement (which protects it from discovery by a laser rangefinder). The walls of the basement had lots of shelves covered with random crap and large pieces of old interior wood paneling leaning up against them and the searchers dutifully went through absolutely everything, and as they moved the panels to search behind them they tossed them on the rug that covered the access door, which I found to be pretty funny (and inspirational of new ideas!) and IMO is something worth keeping in mind when designing a space.

    One of the all-time world champions of hidden rooms (until the details and location were posted online after the bust, that is) can be found here: Too bad the guy who built it stole electricity and got himself busted; he supposedly spent ~$750,000 on his secret room, then he steals power from the grid to run it?!? That was not too smart… Theft is wrong, and doing wrong will get you caught doing what is merely illegal!

  10. I can’t believe he used a First Edition “The Grapes of Wrath” for the switch…. Both a sacrilege and ironic due to the contents of the closet… Needs to clean up the mechanism I think to make it a little less… clunky… to open. Other than that, Brilliant!

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