Not every project I build comes out perfectly. As a matter of fact, I can’t recall too many that didn’t have at least one minor mistake. Of course, I mean something that no one else would notice, though some of you might. Without a doubt, I’ve never built a perfect pivot bookcase, but I’m getting a lot closer!
Even the bookcase in this article isn’t perfect. Each time I build one, I learn something new. After all, hidden bookcase doors are a lot more complicated than an ordinary door—there are a lot of variables, both in design and construction, especially on openings that have to swing out.
In this article, I’ll point out a few of the mistakes I made so hopefully you won’t make them—and maybe I won’t make them again. If you notice any others, please let me know. Hidden door bookcases aren’t easy to design or build, but they’re intriguing. Maybe one day we’ll all be able to build one that’s perfect in every way.
Hinges and Wheels
I’ve seen and installed a lot of bookcase doors, many that swing on regular butt hinges. I’ve always used 4 1/2 or 5-in. heavy-duty ball bearing hinges, and they work alright, though the hinges tend to sag a little when the case is really loaded down with books. And they always need some adjustment down the road. Plus, they require a lot of jamb clearance, which has never seemed right to me. Besides, butt hinges only work on swing-in bookcases—there’s no way to hide them completely on a swing-out design.
I’ve also seen cabinet shops build these types of doors, using euro hinges. Trust me, those never work, no matter how many of those little hinges you use, they always sag. I’ve seen carpenters use piano hinges, too, but then it’s tough to take the case off or adjust the hinge. Besides, even a piano hinge is hard to hide in the trim on a swing-out case.
Swinging bookcases always sag a little, too. I’ve tried installing wheels and rollers on the bottoms of swinging bookcases, and they work okay, as long as the floor is a smooth, hard surface, and if there are no throw rugs, though sometimes the roller leaves a tell-tale track on the floor, especially over carpet.
When you use a roller, at the very least you have to leave a gap at the bottom of the case for floor clearance, and that’s a dead giveaway, too. Plus it’s almost impossible to really hide the joints in the baseboard, no matter how cleverly you disguise them. From what I’ve learned, the best way to design and build a durable swing-out bookcase door, one that can be adjusted easily, and one that’s truly invisible, is to design the door to swing above the baseboard, and hang it on a center-hung pivot hinge.
Start With a Drawing
There are few projects I work on today without doing a scale drawing first. When in comes to bookcases, especially swinging ones, SketchUp has saved my life. I started this project with a two-dimensional drawing, one that allowed me to pivot the door in the drawing. That’s how I found the correct location for the pivot point, which took some experimenting. The two most important issues are: 1: The case has to swing clear of the hinge jamb; 2: The case has to open 90 degrees. If you don’t know how to animate Sketchup drawings, watch this tutorial that Todd Murdock has put together:
I wanted the case to have a minimal amount of clearance between the jambs, so it would just clear the trim on the hinge side, and wouldn’t require wide trim on the strike side. That clearance is determined by the setback of the pivot perpendicular to the face of the wall.
When wide open, the door butts against the trim on the hinge side. That clearance is determined by the depth of the bookcase and the location of the pivot, measured from the hinge jamb toward the strike jamb–parallel with the wall.
The real improvement in this design is swinging the bookcase above the baseboard, so it won’t drag on a throw rug and can be trimmed out without any visible gaps. I wanted to end up with the case about 2 3/4 in. above the floor, to clear 2 1/2-in. baseboard. For a taller base, the bottom of the case would be even farther from the floor. If you’re not familiar with Rixson pivot hinges, scroll down to that section below right now.
Another drawing, this one three-dimensional and detailing the hinge parts and clearance requirements, confirmed that mounting the pivot base on two layers of 3/4 plywood would get me close to 2 1/2 in. above the floor. Because I could install the toe kick after swinging the case, the exact dimension didn’t matter, which made execution a lot easier.
To prevent the case from sagging, I dadoed the sides to accept the shelves (see photo, right), something I don’t always do for built in cases. For cutting dados, I normally use a templates guide on my router, which makes it easier to build a compact template, and provides a cleaner tighter dado, but I was lazy. I didn’t have a Porter-Cable-style 3/4-in. template guide for this new router, and rather than running to the tool store, I made the router template exactly the width of the router base. I installed the cross pieces allowing enough space for both bookshelf sides plus an extra 3/16 in.—so I could slide the template up and down without hanging up—and used a long shim and spring clamps to lock the template in place.
An even easier tool for cutting dados is a Festool MFT table and router guide rail. This system is designed perfectly for the task and requires no template and no special clamping setup. Simply layout the book shelf sides with clear pencil lines for each dado (I used a Sharpie so the lines would be more visible in the photographs). Rather than running my router bit dangerously close to the guide rail, I adjust the router so that it cuts almost 1/4 in. away from the rubber edge.
To make it easier to align the boards for each cut, I attached a sacrificial fence to the table. The first pass cut a neat dado in the fence, and I aligned all the cuts with that dado. To make sure the boards didn’t slip as I moved them through the cutting station, I screwed a 3/4 in. cleat on top of the layout marks for one of the shelves. Once that cleat came up near the guide rail, I removed it and pressed it into the dado, where it locked the two boards together.
Here’s a trick I learned at Festool School: the dust collection system will collect almost all the saw dust if you don’t dado right through the first piece. Instead, plunge the router into the workpiece about 1/2 in. from the edge, cut the dado, then clean up the front when you’re finished. That little dam is all that’s needed to stop the dust from shooting out the dado, leaving it at the mercy of the dust collector.
Edgebanding Plywood Shelving
|I’ve done a lot of edgebanding and always hated the hair-line crack that develops between the plywood and the solid stock. That gap is caused by the inner plywood endgrain swelling from the glue, which puts a little belly in the edge and forces the banding away from top and bottom of the plywood. To prevent edge swelling problems, I used a Collins Ply-Prep bit ($20.00) and ‘routed’ a slightly concave nose on each shelf.|
|After fastening the solid mahogany banding on with glue and 23ga pins…|
|…I ran a laminate trimmer on each side to cut the surfaces flush.|
|The last piece I milled was the strike side of the case, which required a bevel. I made the first cut on my table saw, but the blade height wouldn’t cut to daylight, so I cleaned up the bevel with a power plane.|
Before assembling the pieces, I pre-finished everything, a lesson learned the hard way after making dozens of bookcases—it’s just too hard to finish all those inside corners and edges without getting runs, drips, and finish all over my wrists. I used a water-based polyurethane and a roller, brushing out each piece to remove air bubbles. If I were smarter, I’d own an HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) system, and spray the three coats on, but I’m not, and so I don’t.
|To ensure a tight box that wouldn’t sag, I glued and fastened the shelves with screws, too, brushing the glue into each dado.|
Finished sides, added after the case is swinging, cover the screws. I also cut the finished sides 1/2 in. wider, so that they cover the 1/2-in. plywood back. That way, the sides don’t require rabbets.
I glued and screwed the back flush with the sides, so that the case would never rack.
Pivot hinges are the only way to fly when it comes to supporting a heavy bookcase and achieving an invisible door. I used a Rixson Model 370 bottom pivot, which can accommodate up to 500 lbs. and doors up to 3-ft. 8-in. x 8-ft. 6-in. The bottom pivot includes two pieces: the bottom pivot spindle which mounts directly to the floor (upper right, in photo to the right), and the bottom bearing (lower right), which must be mortised into the bottom of the door. The top pivot is a standard model 340, consisting of a retractable jamb-mounted pivot spindle and finished cover plate (middle and upper left), which are mortised into the jamb head, and a top guide (lower left), which is mortised into the top of the door.
I learned a long time ago to always make templates for door hardware, especially hinges—first, because it’s easier to position and cut the mortises perfectly, which means mortise depth, too; and second, because once you’ve used any special type of hardware, you’re bound to use it again and soon—it’s just a law of the jungle, like thermodynamics. In this case, the bearing guides and the top jamb pivot are the same width and thickness, but because their centers vary, along with their lengths, each piece of hardware requires a custom template.
I started by ripping stock for the center spreaders. A standard door-hanging template guide and router bit (1/2-in. bit and 9/16-in. template guide) will cut 1/16 in. short of the template bushing, so I made the template openings 1/8 in. wider and longer than the hardware. I ripped the spreader stock to 1 3/8 in. for the 1 1/4-in. plates. I centered the spreaders between two outer rails, spacing the spreaders apart the length of each plate plus 1/8 in., then fastened the templates together with pocket screws.
|The centers vary on each piece of hardware, so make individual templates, one for the top guide and one for the bottom bearing (on left).|
Laying out the template stops was critical because that’s what positions the pivots perfectly. For each template, I marked a center line on both axes (parallel to the wall, and perpendicular to the wall), then measured from those center lines to locate the stops. For the bookcase templates, I measured 2 1/4 in. from the pivot center to the back of the first side, knowing the second finished side would add an additional 3/4 in., resulting in a 3 in. backset. For the front backset, I measured 1 3/4 in. from the pivot to the front of the template, and I attached stops on that line.
|Setting the router depth was simply a matter of adjusting the depth stop above the turret to exactly the thickness of the hardware.|
I clamped both templates to the case and mortised the brackets without a second thought.
I fastened the bottom bearing immediately (below, left), pre-drilling the double-thick bottom shelf for the #10 screws. The top guide (below, right) mounts flush with the top of the case-the bushing must be mortised into the case. I traced the location of the center of the bushing…
…drilled out the hole with a paddle bit, then mounted the bracket. The top shelf is only 3/4 in. thick, but a false shelf, installed after the case is swinging, hides the bushing.
|I designed the case 3/4 in. short to allow for this second jamb head, which I mortised in my shop, before installing the case.|
|The top jamb bracket includes a linkage arm that draws the pivot spindle out of the top bushing in the case, so it’s easy to install and remove the case or a door. I drilled a 1 in. hole at each end of the mortise for the linage arm…|
|…then I connected the holes with a jig saw.|
|At the closet door jamb, I traced the mortise for the linkage arm onto the existing head jamb.|
Then I drilled out and cleaned up the mortise, and installed the top jamb pivot. I can’t stress how important it is to check the laser plumb dots by also measuring to the jamb—regardless of what type of door you’re hanging, whether it’s new construction or a remodel. Remember, the jamb might not be plumb and you have to hang the case to ‘fit’ the jamb! It’s vital to have a complete understanding of the whole picture, otherwise you have to move hardware after everything is installed (one guess how I know this).
Sometimes, dead plumb and perfectly square aren’t the only concerns when hanging a door, bookshelf or otherwise. I wanted the ‘door’ to fit the jamb, with even gaps. The opening was a little cross-legged, too, and I wanted the casing to fit flat against the case—the case had to be almost perfectly flush with the jamb. The measurement mark was off by only 1/8 in., so I followed that rather than the laser plumb marks.
A laser works great for transferring the plumb line. Just place the red dot on the center of the top pivot and mark the location of the bottom pivot.
|Rixson also offers an accessory plumb bob that mounts directly to the top pivot—a slick way of finding the bottom pivot location.|
Hanging the case isn’t difficult. Like with most doors, I retracted the top pivot spindle by backing out the set screw. When I’m hanging a door, I usually set the door perpendicular to the jamb, place it on the bottom pivot, then lean it back against the top pivot. That way, I have comfortable control over the door while backing out the set screw and retracting the top spindle. It’s easy to position the door directly under the spindle, then run the set screw back in, pinning the door into place. But with a bookcase it’s not so simple.
Fortunately this was one problem I anticipated, which made me feel pretty good. I made the case 1/4 in. short of the opening, providing just the right gap between the top of the case and the head jamb. I backed out the set screw half way, then placed the case on the bottom pivot and straightened it up in the opening. The top of the case barely scraped across the bottom of the set screw, while the top jamb pivot spindle dragged over the top of the case and then dropped like magic right into the pivot guide. Amazing!
I installed the false sides on both sides of the case, driving fasteners from inside the case, so they wouldn’t be visible as the ‘door’ opened. Of course, no one would ever see the finished side near the hinge, unless they stood inside the closet.
Before starting the trim, I installed a shim made from UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) plastic, which is pretty slippery stuff ($18.00 from www.smallparts.com). I ripped a 1 1/4-in. length of the material from a 3/4 in. x 12 x 12 blank ($17.00), then I cut a long shim using a Festool guide and saw. I sized the shim to just touch the bottom of the case when the door is closed, which prevents any minor settling. That way, moving joints in the trim at the top of the case stay tight.
Trimming the top of the case is tricky. The joint between the architrave molding (parting bead) and the top of the case must be invisibly tight, yet still provide 1/16 in. clearance for the case to swing. And that’s where I made another mistake. I should have ripped the new top jamb down—to make it at least 1/2 in. back from the face of the jamb—so that the architrave molding would run back inside the jamb, past the bookcase, which would help to hide the joint.
|The horns on the architrave molding must be scribed to fit the wall and butt against the head jamb inside the opening.|
|I next installed a frieze board, and finished the entablature with a two-step cap rabbeted in several passes on my table saw.|
|The base details went on next. With the case closed, I milled a piece of mahogany toe kick and scribed it to the floor, leaving 1/8 in. clearance to the bottom of the case.|
I attached the plinth blocks with trim head screws, and the casing, too, especially the strike side piece that remains on the cabinet and acts as stop when the cabinet swings closed. Notice that the toe kick is recessed inside the jamb–it’s not flush with the jamb. That way, the bottom shelf projects over the toe kick making it impossible to see the clearance gap between the top of the toe kick and the bottom of the bookcase.
|It was at that moment I realized I couldn’t reach the set screw with a screw driver: I couldn’t run the screw in to secure the case completely, and I couldn’t back the screw out to remove the case. I didn’t feel so smart anymore, and it got worse.|
On my first attempt at drilling a simple 3/8 in. access hole through which I could reach the set screw with a narrow screw driver, I couldn’t seem to find a drill bit sharp enough to drill through the plywood. I dried a paddle bit first, then a twist drill. On the third attempt, I realized I was drilling right into the top guide hardware.
Determined to overcome my own stupidity, I thought through the problem carefully and found a second access hole located on a radius layout, so I could swing the case clear of the top guide and reach the top pivot set screw. Fortunately, the new hole lined up perfectly. I turned the screw and drove the pivot spindle all the way into the top guide. Notice that the first hole is aligned perfectly with the hardware mounted in the top of the case.
With the case tight against the wall and under pressure from a slight amount of cross leg, I drilled a 3/4-in. hole through the side and into the jamb. A 3/4-in. x 5-in. long dowel, with a mahogany grip, locks the case in the opening. I hide the grip with a stack of books so no one will know how to open it.
There’s no door knob, and the case rubs just a hair on the UHMW plastic shim, but a slight tug on the shelves slips the case free from the shim, and the door swings open with a swoosh of air. Sure, one day I might even tape and mud the joint between the jamb and the wall…but no one but me and my dog should ever see that anyway.
True to my original drawings, the case pivots back from the hinge-side trim and just clears the strike jamb as it swings open to exactly 90 degrees. Don’t try this in a small closet. In fact, a 3/0 closet would work best, though this 2/8 opening, with a 7 in. deep case, allows enough access for a skinny guy like me.
(This article originally appeared on GaryMKatz.com)
I got to build two of these in the past couple of years. Thanks to Gary I knew how to begin and end as I found this article on his web site. This article saved me hours of aggravations and boosted my confidence immensely. Thanks Gary. The Sketch Up drawing was the key to success as for determining the pivot point and the clearances required to swing the various depths of the bookcases I built. I was able to achieve 1/16″ tolerances and that was pretty cool for a fully loaded swinging bookcase. One bookcase was built and set into the frame on site as Gary shows here but on the 2nd unit the install was miles away and I wasn’t doing it. I decided to build a box within a box so that the unit was sent to the field essentially installed and tested. Only needed to be set into the opening accurately, then trimmed out. That was a a good approach.
As these units carry lots of weight I will emphasize the need for a good floor mounted cabinet rest on the non pivot side. I too use the UHMW but attached an 1/8″ thick strip to an oak block – so no need to cut tapers. I could set the thickness of the block exactly. I used Euro screws which seat into the plastic nice and flush and hold it down very well. A light tug on the cabinet and it slides free.
Otherwise that’s all I can add. Each of these requires it’s own problem solving as regards to attaching trim and how well to conceal the build-in of the unit, but This article will set you well on your way to success.
Ray or anyone else…
I live in a small town and have not been able to find a cabinet shop that is comfortable with a project like you describe. Im looking for a bookshelf (opening out); Center T.V. Cabinet and bookshelf (fixed) for a house currently under construction. Can you recommend any carpenters that could produce this and have it shipped?
I am in the process of planning a hidden bookshelf door and would love to pick your experiences brain on a few things. Is there anyway to open a dialogue with you? I’d really appreciate your advice!
I have built two pivoting book cases in my career. The first ,14 years ago, was one part of a library complete with raised paneling and wall to wall bookcases. I tackled it a little different as the opening bookcase had to be undetectable. The unit was 30″x78″x12″ and I choose to swing it into the “panic room.” All of the trim runs across the opening to the bookcases on either side so when the bookcase is pushed in the face frame and toe kick remain stationary. I repeated this library for the same clients on another home just three years ago.
The heavy pivot hinge in the original house is still going strong, in fact,
a real estate agent requested as the designer and builder I meet with potential buyers of the first house . After touring the house and proudly telling them about all the love put into it, I said, “what did you think about the panic room?” Realtor and buyers looked at me with blank stares. I smiled, took them into the library and challenged them to find the secret room. They failed and when I pushed it open, their big smiles rewarded me once again and then bought they house and hired me to do a $75,000 remodel.
I have built many homes and to this day, that home and that library still bring the greatest memories.
Oooh. If I had a suitable floorplan for it, _WANT_.
Very nice. What sort of hinge did you use on your bookcase?
Beautiful work Ron!
Gary’s work & instructions inspired me to (possibly) attempt this project at home. Your execution definitely confirmed my desire to attempt it. I can only wish that when I’m done, mine looks half as good as yours.
Thanks for sharing,
where did you get the hinges
That’s a Rixson hinge. You can buy Rixson hardware from any professional door or door hardware supplier. You can find them easily on the internet, too. Just Google Rixson Pivot Hinge.
I’m just wondering if anyone could give me an idea what it would cost to build a door like this
Building a new home. We want a hidden book case door in our library for the closet. The library will have 10″ deep book shelves on every wall. We would like the door to pivot into the library and be flush with the front of the library book shelves. Do you have or know of plans for this type of door? Also, the doorway is large enough it could be a folding pivot door if that is helpful… otherwise we will frame in part of the opening. THANK YOU!
No, I have no ‘plans’, but any competent carpenter should be able to read the article and work from that.
Just wanted to tell you, real glad I found you. Want to do this on a small scale.
Great article Gary. The unit looks super, and that UHMW shim is a clever little thing. I plan to give the Collins Ply-Prep bit a try, as I recently finished two large cabinets that had umpteen miles of edge banding and now have another three sets to go. Much appreciated.
Nice work Gary! Looks awesome. Thanks for the article.
do appreciate your sharing of knowledge. Will have to build this just to see if i can.
I am a working with a local cabinet maker to build a Hidden Door. He has never built one but is happy to jump in. I have read all I can find and am printing out all of Mr. Katz articles. The shelf/door needs to swing out and left. I spoke with Rixson but being a end user, they weren’t particularly helpful. Polite but the person responding only knew of one such door using their hardware and recommended a 1000lb capacity center pivot set at about 1K. What resource might I provide the maker? He does not use the internet.
Thank you for reading this.
tom at livesoil dot com
You should contact a distributor or dealer. Do a search for Rixson hardware and find a good dealer. I think Qualified Hardware is a pretty thorough site. You’ll be able to get pdf’s of of installation instructions, etc. There are other good sites, too. You’ll find someone who can help you. I’ve spoken to several people at Rixson who were very helpful when I designed my door. I’m sorry you didn’t have the same experience.
Rixson was very polite and did call me back. Unfortunately I’m not well enough equipped to even ask the right questions. We’re going to follow your lead and use the Rixson 370 set. It seems to be the only set mentioned on any sites with info on building a hidden door. As you know, 90% of what is on the net is from your work. I’ve been looking for weeks on the internet….hopefully we make the right choices.
BTW, Fabulous pricing @ Qualified Hardware!
What do you think of the hidden door being constructed as a pre hung unit. There is a lot of quality local oak. This will be done in solid oak, at an unbeatable material cost! Opinions, anyone?
(professional horticulturalist wiling to trade expertise and opinions)
That is exactly what I did on my last hidden bookcase project. I wrote about that in the 1st comment above. In my case the trim work was pretty elaborate – arched and carved, by others so I just sent the bookcase to be installed all set up on the pivot within an outer box. I could just as easily have sent it all trimmed out if that had been necessary. Needs to be said that this was a relatively small unit – 60″ tall x 30″ wide x 8″ deep with lots of trim detail above to make up the arch. I think that the same could be done successfully with a bigger unit, though I think that the Rixson 370 will be maxed out for a unit bigger than 4′ wide x 6′ tall.
May I ask what hardware you used?
Tom, I used The Rixson 370. It was completely fine for the two units I described. Just would wonder if I went much wider. I think taller is OK but wider than 4′ and you need to consider the leverage exerted on the pivot. I repeat that doing a Sketch Up (or the like) drawing before hand was essential as it allowed me (and Gary) to determine the pivot point and the clearances required precisely.
Here are a few photos of the case within the case. I can’t show the installed cabinet out of deference to the privacy of the client – too bad, it is a little beauty – but this gives an idea of how to approach the construction. 3 photos: 1) full height view , 2) a close up of the top and partially open, 3) a detail of the head with the top rail and its attached finished top removed to reveal the access to the top pivot. The oak vert on the right is cut back from the face at 45° so that the bookcase swings clear while providing a landing for the room case applied in the field to within a 1/4″ of the edge of that angled vert.
I am an architect and when I try to figure out how things are done I end up googling until I get a good explanation, yours is excellent and well presented, thanks.
NICE, NICE, NICE!!!!
So well done. I always wanted a “Bat Cave” in my home and I didn’t realize how complicated that structure is to make.
Gary Katz, Wow, the security room behind the bookcase and the pivoting bookcase are an asset to any home, very nice. My skills are not there yet but when they improve I will be putting one of those bookcases in my home. Thanks for the information, Freddie
The design is beautiful, but (you knew there was going to be a “but”, right?) I’m not quite certain how best to fit it into an existing room when I *can’t* have the bookcase flush with the existing wall. We want this as part of a wall of bookcases rather than standalone.
Conceptually simple enough — just move it forward eight inches and frame the rest of the bookcases around it.
But I haven’t worked with these hinges before, and I’m nervous about side forces on the upper pivot. Reducto ad absurdam: If you tried to build this into a stand-alone case, it would tip forward as soon as you started to swing the weight out. The question I’m fighting with is how to anchor the header which carries that pivot back into the wall studs to carry that force — or whether I have to actually frame this out as if it was a real doorway, so that force is transferred directly to the ceiling joists.
(I know I have a tendency to over-engineer…)
I’m sure someone must have done a variant that fits this situation by now… Any suggestions, or do I just trust my instincts and wing it?
(Think of it as wanting this to look like a freestanding bookcase against the wall. That isn’t exactly what I’m doing, but it isolates the problem nicely.)
Did a bit more research… It looks like the sideways force on each of the pivots is the weight of the door, times half its width, divided by its height. For an 8′ high, 3′ wide door, that basically means 3/16ths of the weight … so a 500 lb door, held only by the center-pivot hinges, would be putting 93 3/4 lbs of sideways force on the pivots.
Nontrivial, but not as bad as one might expect. You’d want to make sure that was adequately braced against both racking within the frame and pulling away from the wall, but it shouldn’t be too hard to do so.
“If it happens, it must be possible.”
Well, I’m back. To say this has been an adventure would be an understatement. We’ve made more than our share of mistakes, but are on the way to resolution. Please take a moment to answer one more critical question. Cabinet maker chose not to mortise the pivots into the top of the shelf unit nor the top of the jam. It created a problem with concealing the top edge, I understand that. However builder INSISTS that the unit will be impossible to put in place or remove if the top Rixson hinges are mortised in. He’s agreed to do everything possible to correct our missteps. I’ve tried Rixson again for info confirming that mortising was important to the structural strength but have no response.
I’m sorry I took so long to respond! But you should definitely mortise in the top bracket, if you left 1/4″ reveal between the top of the bookcase and the head jamb.
good stuff on this site,, i’m wondering if heavy duty chair swivels, with and added attachment plate on each, would serve as pivot points ?
What? No, I don’t think so… :)
Hi Gary, thanks for the open honesty, I too have a little “error” in each of my projects that only I know about. Wife likes to ask me about it at the end of each project. The info and explanations I’m digesting carefully, thank-you everyone. I am remodelling my basement and completed the demolition, stripped everything down to studs and floor slab. My plan is to build a full 15′ wide wall, behind which will be split an office and cedar closet. The wall face will divided into three sections: bookcase – center tv/video – bookcase. Each bookcase is to be a hidden door, one for the office and one for the closet. Since I am starting from scratch and can build the walls to suit I wanted to ask if there is an easier way to plan this. I don’t mind the hinge showing when the bookcase is open. The office would open inwards and the closet would open outwards. Question: would Ron Paulk’s hinge above be easier than the Rixson?
Rixson makes an offset pivot hinge, too, for use on swing-in cases or when you don’t care if the the hinge is visible. I’m not sure what hinge Ron used. He just said it was a heavy duty pivot hinge, I think? Most hinges are pretty easy to install if you think through the process, make templates, and do some test mockups to be sure your mortises are correct.
I am trying to build a small bookcase into my pantry. I need it to pivot out and away from the cabinet so I can put storage behind it. What kind of hinge would I use for this and do you know of anywhere I can see something like this to help me out? Thanks Debi
You probably want to use an offset pivot hinge, but without seeing the situation, I can’t really tell you. You’re best bet would be to visit with a professional cabinet shop where they can show you examples and work with you to design and build the right cabinet.
What is the thickness of the new jamb that you placed between the original jamb and the bookshelf?
I’m not sure which jamb you’re talking about, but all of the jamb stock is 3/4 in. thick material.
What do you use for a latch? I love the idea of pulling on an old book…
Sorry I missed your question and it took me so long to catch it.
I use a dowel hidden behind a book, but i like the idea of pulling on a book, too. Next time I’m going to do that–make a wooden book with a book cover on it, and hook it to a gate latch of some kind on the inside of the door. And maybe cut an emergency hold somewhere, just in case the wire breaks!!! :)
Marshall, I will readily admit I am not an expert cabinet maker but am a decent carpenter and I am in the process of building a hidden door as described above. I too had the desire to have more of a hidden latch than the dowel described in the article. I will post pictures once I am done with the project but let me describe what I came up with. Understand I have just finished the primary building of the cabinet but what I figured out seems to work fine it just hasn’t had extensive use so I cannot point out the downfalls at this point.
What I decided to do, after much research and no good inexpensive solutions, was to use a basic latch out of a door handle. I bored the hole for the latch between the top of the door and the false top described in the article to hide the top Rixon hardware and the hole for the set screw. I then used 1/8 plastic coated aircraft cable looped around the latch mechanism with a thimble and then routed the cable to the desired release location using a series of pulleys and channels I router-ed out. In the end a simple tug of a hidden release hook releases the door latch much like a normal handle would. In the right setting you could manipulate these pulleys and attach cable to a book for your purposes. I just am building a master closet and shelves will be used for shoes not books. :) Hope this helps.
In the photo you can see the cable as it comes out and runs down the side of the door. I will be hiding all this with the face frame. The latch is at top right. I bought all rigging for this set up from webriggingsupply.com for under $40.
You can use a steel pin with a wooden dowel on the end and a magnet to latch this type of door.
I’m not a carpenter, and didn’t understand all of the terminology used, but it was one of the most interesting articles I’ve ever read! Loved the whole concept.
Any reason my question was not posted/approved?
I’m not sure what your question was! I’m sorry but every now and then a comment will land in the spam folder, and there’s so many tons and tons of spam that we rarely go through it–just imagine how you’d smell after doing that!
We have been asked to build a hidden bookcase door for a client and the added challange is that they would like it to be at least 12″ deep. I noticed in this article there was a case inside a case approach and was intrigued by the design and was thinking this could be a way to meet the clients desire for a deeper bookcase. So what I was thinking about doing, because the location for this bookcase is a closet and is where the furnace is located. What do you think about using the technique described above but with only about 6″ sticking out into the room which would give the added depth they want. What thoughts of wisdom could you pass on to me and do you think this could work?
I’m not sure what you mean by a case within a case. It’s just one bookcase inside a door jamb. But you can use flanking cases as ‘door jambs’ too, as several of the people did who posted pictures of their work. In fact, that’s a good way to develop a deeper case. But the problem with a 12″ case is the amount of room the case will take up in the jamb/opening when the door is swung open. It will diminish the opening size by the depth of the case plus some. So if you put a 12″ deep case in a 36 in. jamb, you’d end up with a 24″ clear opening–or less some; if you put a 12″ case in a 2/8 door opening, you’d end up with a 20″ wide opening–not nearly wide enough to pass through comfortably, at least not for most…well, I won’t go there. :)
Where do you purchase the “pivot hinges?”
Do a search for Rixson Pivot Hinges. You’ll find several sources. Builders Hardware is a good one.
Thank you for the complete installation of this book case, along with the “I wish I had done it differently”. The pivot hing is a great idea, I can see where the way it swings could really help things fit together.
I like the “slick” stuff shim too. I once used a wheel for this application that helped but wore out the plywood it was mated to….I suppose a piece of sheet metal would have helped. Any way thank you for the wonderful ideas.
THANK YOU! for such a comprehensive tutorial! I have a small broom closet in my kitchen. Not only is the door UGLY! It renders that wall space unusable. I had seen a picture of a bookcase being used as a door on Pinterest and knew that was my solution.
I can’t wait to use your guide to build my bookcase!
This is a very good article !
Just wishing I had 1, the time and 2, the shop you do to even make a bookcase well alone a hidden door bookcase.
I want to make one for my basement door , to really give the appeal of a hidden place for my family.
Once again , great article
I was asked to build a hidden book shelf with matching book shelves beside it on both sides and 12″deep. Now I’ve built the shelves and kept almost 3″ of space between them but I can’t find a hinge system that will allow me to pull it out and then swing open. Do you have any suggestions? Even with the 3″ space if I don’t pull it out it still catches on the adjacent case. Help.
I think there’s a hinge system that allows you to pull out a door and then swing it open, but I’ve never seen it and don’t know who makes it. I think it might be a myth? :)
3″ is more than enough room for a pivot hinge to clear, but it’s probably too late to install one. You’d have to reinforce the bottom and top of the case; the shelf alignment adjacent cases would be thrown off, etc. etc.
Thank you for the GREAT demonstration and “how to”!!
I have a suggestion and would value your opinion.
What would you think of using a threshold that was 1/8 to 1/4 inch higher than the floor and gently sloped to the back of the bookcase so that only the leading edge of the threshold slightly contacted the bookcase as it opened and it would have 1/4′ clearance from the floor to accommodate any sagging of the bookcase? Then, in addition, add a ball bearing roller low on the non-hinge side of the bookcase while also plowing out a slot / socket along the width of the bookcase. The socket would have a slightly larger open throat at the bottom, front, so the bookcase would contact the more open throat of the slot and “ride up” to the level position as it closed, and would accommodate any sagging and close level. I am no expert, and don’t play on TV, but I think such design would allow the bottom of the bookcase to stay close to the floor and mate very closely with the slightly high point on the threshold while the accommodating any sagging and eliminating any marks on the floor. I would welcome your comments, since I am contemplating following your lead to build a similar bookcase.
John Hunt firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not really sure I follow what you’re describing! Maybe I’m just too dense to see it. I’m not sure what the ball bearing roller would do. If you’re trying to bring the bottom of the case closer to the floor, there are other issues to consider besides the sag/clearance of the case. I haven’t found the cases on Rixson hinges sag much, especially if they’re built correctly. But the reason I keep them off the floor isn’t because of the sag it’s so they can clear carpet or flooring without a tell-tale gap or reveal.
Maybe you’re talking about something else? In which case, why don’t YOU try it on your case and take pictures and share them with us when you’re finished!! :)
I know your question was more posed to Gary, but let me offer up my 2 cents for what it’s worth. I obviously am not Gary Katz, but here are a couple of observations based on my experience recently building one of these hidden doors.
I think you can definitely make the threshold work so that your case just barely clears the carpet/flooring. However, I think the idea that the front side of it will be touching the bookcase(have no reveal) will be very tough to pull off and I think you would be asking for trouble. You are dealing with so many factors (hinges being plum, threshold being level, any sag of the case, etc.), not to mention having perfect calculations when countersinking your hinges, that between those things and the possibility of wood expansion it would easily cause problems. My suggestion is to do a solid threshold, stained/finished the same as everything else, and give yourself somewhere around 1/8” reveal.
Knowing and seeing how the hidden door opens/closes using these pivot hinges I don’t think roller/slot system you described would work out very well for you. If it do get creative and make it work or I am not seeing what you are thinking exactly, I would still say it will be way more trouble than it is worth. I agree with Gary, if built well these doors will have little to no sag. My door was quite large (almost 40” wide, 90” tall, 12” deep) and once on the hinges I honestly don’t think it will ever sag, and if it does, not much. The shim is more a precautionary measure to extend the life of the door and hinges. I would suggest, instead of trying your luck with the roller, leave yourself a small reveal between the threshold and door and use a shim as described in the article. It will work great, is simple to do, and the simple design doesn’t leave much room for things to go wrong.
Gary, I just wanted to say thank you for the great article and detailed instructions on how to build a hidden door. Doing something like this has intrigued me for a while and after finding your article I was determined to make it happen (and I had the perfect spot for it) After a couple of months of long nights and short weekends I have finally finished my master closet that included a hidden door to a storage area/panic room.
I encourage anyone that is patient and decent with cabinetry, this is a project that is not that hard as long as you take your time and think things through. Again, thank you Gary.
Hi, quick question. I have a 6′ bookcase, 9″ deep, and according to the plans provided by this site, (thanks) my bookcase is coming along nicely.
The plans indicate placing bottom pin 3.5″ from jam, and middle of structural 2×4 as pivot point. I can move it closer to the center of the 9″ side, loose some entrance room.
Question, should I continue with original pivot point, or should I move pivot point closer to center for balance,
OR will original pivot point work if I don’t overload shelves?
2 days from determination of pivot point
I’m not sure about hanging a 6′ wide bookcase on a pivot hinge. I think the weight would be a bit much when it’s filled with stuff.
But as to your question, I don’t think the plans call for setting the pivot point in the middle of the 2×4 wall. All the pivot point measurements are taken off the jamb. And I don’t understand what you mean by moving it “closer to the center of the 9″ side, loose some entrance room.” Be careful how you place the pivot as that has a bearing on the a strike gap and clearance. You should probably draw it in Sketchup first and make sure the new pivot point works.
How much would this type of project run for labor and materials.
I took about two days to build and install. The hardware and material is probably around $800.00 to $1,000.00.
What type of material was used for your shelving? I understand oak is a good wood to use for structural integrity, but surely $1000 is on the high end?
Also, it seems as though you use plywood fairly consistently, so unless you’re including the purchase of tools, I’m not sure why your estimated cost is so high? Mahogany veneer, maybe?
Is it the hinge? To me, even 35$ for a complicated piece of hardware seems a bit high.
I just can’t see how you got your price point.
My personal experience, Gary’s ballpark is pretty right on. Understanding the many variables that could affect the price drastically… such as wood choice, finish, design, and size …I wouldn’t expect him to throw out a number lower than that.
Finished my door around 6 months ago. Lots of adjustable shelving that was face framed 3/4 birch ply. Used soft maple for solid stock. Here is roughly what my estimated cost would be..
Rixon hardware – $200-225
3/4 ply – 3 or 4 sheets – $150-200
Solid Stock – $100
UHMW shim – $30
Shelving inserts/screws/misc shop supplies-$50-75
You can always expect to run into a few extra costs…but that would put it right close to the ballpark. Use a more expensive wood, and you could easily hit $1k.
My personal experience, Gary’s ballpark is pretty right on. Understanding the many variables that could affect the price drastically… such as wood choice, finish, design, and size …I wouldn’t expect him to throw out a number lower than that.
Finished my door around 6 months ago. Lots of adjustable shelving that was face framed 3/4 birch ply. Used soft maple for solid stock. Here is roughly what my estimated cost would be..
Rixon hardware – $200-225
3/4 ply – 3 or 4 sheets – $150-200
Solid Stock – $100
UHMW shim – $30
Shelving inserts/screws/misc shop supplies-$50-75
You can always expect to run into a few extra costs…but that would put it right close to the ballpark. Use a more expensive wood, and you could easily hit $1k.
And that estimate doesn’t include labor/time. If it’s your first cabinet with Rixson hinges, I’d figure a two-day project, and maybe even a little longer if there’s any installation issues on the jobsite…like the closet is full of clothes and toys and stuff and you have to empty it all in order to work in there! So I’d figure three days to be sure you made good money. If you’ve worked with Rixson hinges before and already have the templates, you can build and install the cabinet in two days easily–as long as there’s not too much traffic going and coming from the jobsite! :) I’d add for traffic, too!
I am starting research and gathering courage to do this project.
I want to replace a standard 3/0 basement door that is hinged on the right, swings out AND must be opened to 180 degrees.
Thoughts, concerns and advice please.
I don’t think you’ll be able to open a Rixson pivot hinge 180 degrees, not with a 2″ backset from the face of the door. You might have to use an offset pivot hinge. But it will show.
I am an interior designer with a fairly good experience in woodwork and manufacturing.
I am in serious need of the correct Pivoting set for a heavy duty bookcase to a secret door.
All Hardware’s I have tried to get help from are not that informed. They keep referring me to spring pivots for doors.
I am in Johannesburg and need professional assistance in specifying the correct pivot mechanism to hold the bookcase.
Could you assist me here or refer me to a Hardware that may be able to ship out to South Africa?
You can find the pivot hinges at numerous online dealers. Here’s one: http://www.epivots.com/rixson-370.aspx
All of the specs about the hinges are included in the article, too.
I would like to ask if anyone knows how to install a revolving wall like the one from the batgirl movie in the old times.
I have never done something like this so forgive me if I am a bit ignorant.
We just finished building and mounting our bookcase and have discovered a horrible problem that we didn’t expect.
The hinge side is perfectly plumb however the swing side is 1/2″ out of plumb. Pick your end, either the top is sticking out 1/2″ from where is should be, the bottom is 1/2″ in from where it should be or both are 1/4″ off from where they should be.
Is this racking?
No clue how this happened or how to even correct it. Book case it made from solid oak with 3/4″ oak veneer ply on the back.
The thought of taking it all back down and apart is killing me.
I feel your pain. I installed my first case perfectly plumb and learned the same lesson. Yes, the jamb is cross-legged or racked slightly–the walls at the bottom aren’t in the same plane. But a partial fix isn’t that difficult. You can shift the location of the bottom pivot in or out a little and that should fix a good part of the problem. And shifting the location of the bottom pivot isn’t THAT hard. You may have to shim the casing on the hinge side off the wall a little bit at the bottom, or you may have to cut that casing into the drywall a little as it nears the bottom of the wall. But you’ve pointed out an important lesson–perfectly plumb and level doesn’t always work well, especially with a pivot door or bookcase. Cross stringing the opening is a prerequisite. That way you can see the WHOLE PICTURE before you start mounting the hardware.
I’m an amateur woodworker and would like to build one of these bookcase doors for a small closet I have. If you don’t mind, what were the dimensions of your bookcase? I’m not familiar with using SketchUp so I figure I might be able to adapt your measurements for my bookcase in relation to the pivoting hinge.
Here’s an image of the dimensions I used. But the image isn’t really important–you simply need to subtract 1/4″ from each side of the jamb opening/door opening–which means you build the case 1/2″ smaller than the door opening. The hinge location has nothing to do with the width of the door.
I am an amature woodworker as well. I’m looking into doing a hidden door/wall myself. I want to have the wall be a dry bar unit (mini fridge and shelving. It would be in place of my 3/0 closet door. My calculations show it would need to be 23in deep to conceal the back of the mini fridge. In order to not block most of the opening, I would like to have the whole unit be able to open greater than 90 degrees. Would this be possible with the offset hinge you described in a previous answer? Also regarding the weight the hinges are able to handle, a full mini fridge would weigh slightly over 100 pounds. I would put the mini fridge on the side of where the hinges would mount to compensate for the sag or bind from the weight.
Does this sound do able?
No, it doesn’t sound doable. Far too many issues for me to even think about. Sorry!
My dentist (retired, now) and I decided this would be a COOL project for his new home. We purchased the awesome pivot hinge hardware, read the instructions you gave several times, and then began. Instead of the laser plumb line, I used my old jamb-setting level, paying great attention to my tape as well. Problem: We were ready to set the top and bottom pivots; pulled out the template from the pivot box, and pulled in 2″ from the jamb at the head instead of 3-1/4″. The box hung perfectly, swung open and closed easily…until I applied the 3-1/2″ fluted casing to the hinge side of the box. It opened fine, except that it would only swing approximately 80 degrees open. Dilemma. Also, my case sags ever so slightly when loaded with books, so that there is a slight rub on the bottom strike side. Maintaining a 1/16th inch margin goes out the window…but the bookcase DOES stay shut:) I used 1/4″ Maple ply for the back, screwed and glued. Even so, the slight sag (about that 1/16″). Not sure how to remedy that after the fact.
Thanks for the post/instructions, Gary. The sign of a Master is not that he/she doesn’t make mistakes, but how he/she can correct them.
Will post pics when everything is perfect.
ps. My dentist has an analytical mind and approach, plus his fingers are used to working in extremely tight places!
At least the bookcase stays shut! That’s a good thing! :)
Yeah, yeah, yeah…you’re not the only one who’s made a silly mistake. I still make them all the time, thinking about something else usually instead of what I’m working on. I’m afraid in this case, my best advice is to bite the bullet and re-do the placement of the pivot hinges. I know. I know. I can feel your pain. Believe me! I tried to see if there was a way of making it work–I have a Sketchup Drawing I use to move that pivot point around, and with it that close to the jamb, there’s just no way to get the fixed casing on the hinge-side of the case to work. If you move the bottom pivot, all you have to do is re-mortise the bottom of the bookcase. If you move the top pivot, just install a dutchmen in the head jamb to cover up the open mortise. The good thing is, that by the time you get the pivots mortised again, and the case hung up there again, you’ll be a real pro at installing pivot hinges!!! :) And as for the sag…once the case is loaded it, I think it’s always going to sag a tiny bit, and that’s why I use the high density plastic shim, which is super slippery.
We are looking to build a double. Is there anything we need to do differently then your plans above?
Just remember that you’ll probably have to adjust the location of the bottom pivots once the two cases are swinging, in order to make the meeting ‘stiles’ perfectly flush before you attach any trim. Please take pictures! I’d love to see a pair.
And don’t miss that detail with the architrave bead molding on the entablature: You have to rabbet the front edge of the head jamb about 1/2″ wide and about 1/4″ deep, so that the architrave bead molding laps over the headjamb, which helps hide the gap between the top of the bookcase and the headjamb/architrave bead.
RE: HDMW plastic.
You can often pick up scrap pieces on ebay cheap.
They’re great for router table & other zero clearance work.
We are building a swinging bookcase 39.5″ W X 90.5″ H X 10.75″ D using the Rixson 370 pivot hinges. We are experiencing trouble with 5/16″ to 3/8″ racking in the box of the bookcase. The construction of the box is 3/4″ sides, captured 1/2″ back. We are thinking we need to apply (glue and screw) on a 3/4″ full overlay back leaving the sides as is. Do you think this is an adequate solution to the problem? We don’t see sagging to be an issue.
I suspect you didn’t fasten that 1/2 in. back to all of the shelves, with glue and screws? That’s probably why it racked. You can’t just fasten the back to the sides–doesn’t matter how thick the back it. And a 1/2 in. back should be more than sufficient to control racking…if it’s glued and screwed to each of the shelves. This is one cabinet where the shelves must be fixed, not adjustable! :) Since the case is already assembled, I’d try shimming up the strike side–higher than it should be by about 1/4-3/8 or even 1/2 in????, and then pre-drill and drive screws through the back into the shelves. That should help a lot. Otherwise…my advice is the age-old solution every carpenter is too familiar with: start over. :)
Although I agree with the fact that the racking issue in the previous post is most likely due to not sufficiently attaching the back to fixed shelving, adjustable shelving is not out of the question for others building a hidden door. The door I built, thanks to the great article above, is a shoe rack in my master closet. The door is on the larger size (84×43) and I choose to do two fixed shelves to prevent racking and have 8 other adjustable shelves to hold shoes. (¾” Birch plywood for sides, back, and shelving) This door has been installed for almost two years on this set up and I haven’t had one bit of sag or racking. Fixed shelves are a must, but strategically place a couple of them and they will blend right in with your adjustable shelving.
Incredible project and details.
Have you tried using flat square Lazy Susan bearings instead of the Rixson hinges? Before finding your article, I was looking at a few other photos and figured the Lazy Susan hinge would give me the hidden pivot point I needed. In that vein, I found a website that has sets that range from 200 lb to 1000 lb capacity and was hoping to use them in my hidden bookcase project. After seeing the price on the Rixson hinges, this would be a VERY big cost savings though I am not sure the feasibility or long term functionality. I’m trying to sell this idea to the wife now, so any cost saving ideas are appreciated! I am already planning to repurpose the oak (plywood and solid) from the massive built-in desk I built, installed, then removed from our office so our son could have a playroom.
Thanks for your insight.
No, I haven’t tried that ‘hinge’.
Hidden Pivot Bookcase Installation- Gary, I’ve been working on a place for 1 yr now to install a hidden door! Searched the web numerous times only to come back to your detailed design! I’ve purchased Rixson hinges 370, and am ready to build. I am taking pics as I progress! Thank you for sharing knowledge I know has helped my ability to plan, implement and successfully tackle! Very Good material to go by! JD
Hello, we have built 2 of these with your instructions, in the past but we were asked to fix someone else’s attempt to build a book case that opens with wheels and hidden cabinet door hinges. we want to modify existing book case to pivot on a base that we will build. The book case is really heavy duty built with a few layers of plywood and sound proof materials. it will go into a recording studio. any suggestions and tips on what we are going to run into?
Wow. People get so creative, huh? I’ve never found a hidden door on wheels that really worked well. And the wheels always leave marks on the floor, especially on carpet, but on hardwood, too. As far as using the bookcase or something, you really have me there. I probably wouldn’t even attempt it. Installing a hidden door is all about layout–working from the finish back to the rough dimensions. It’s a pretty demanding job. I can’t imagine starting with a finished bookcase. Of course, I guess you could if you framed the opening around it! :)
What about using a spring loaded ball transfer as a wheel?
Wheels on hidden doors aren’t usually the best answer–they leave a track on the floor, especially on carpet but on hard surface finished floors, too, which means the door is no longer hidden!
Great article Gary,
Question I noticed the backing of the bookcase was 1/2″ plywood was this the only area 1/2″ was used? Was the rest of the unit all 3/4″ plywood?
Yes, I used 3/4″ material for everything except the back. I usually make the cabinet backs from 1/4″ material, but the back on this ‘door’ really provides the shear/raking resistance, so 1/2″ was important.
We recently finished our basement and I have a small space in my son’s new room that I was looking for something creative to do. It is not a very big space but I thought maybe I could turn into a secret storage space. All of the articles on creating secret bookshelf doors seem to incorporate pivot hinges. However, this doorway would be too narrow for that type of installation. I was hoping you might have an alternate idea. I was thinking something like a scissor hinge or offset hinge, but I am not sure how to hide this properly. Any suggestions?
Every time I’ve tried using a different type of hinge, there have been problems, especially with settling.
This is exactly what I have in mind to access the back stairs in our historic home. Hopefully we can find someone who has the expertise to build it. If not, you’re welcome to come & build it for us!
I plan to build a unit that is 36″ wide X 80″ tall X 12″ deep with cabinet doors near the base and it will be a flush mount like your example. However I plan to use the “box in a box” design so that I can prove it out in my shop prior to installation. Do you see any reason why your pivot point won’t work for this application?
Absolutely! I’d build whatever I had to in order to be sure the install goes smoothy. I just installed the same bookcase door in my new home in S. Or. All I made was a story pole for the elevation. It worked PERFECTLY. The slickest and smoothest install I’ve ever done, and there are two other doors that are continguous to the bookcase door, so the architrave bead molding in the classical entablature had to line up perfectly across all three, and the plinth blocks had to line up, too. The Story Pole did all that. But before Sketchup, I used to mock everything up…everything. :) There is one bit of advice I’d suggest: measure the books you’re going to put into that case. I’ve never found it necessary to have a 12″ deep bookcase, and everything time I used to build them that way, when I was younger, I’d end up putting crap on the shelves in front of the books—because the shelves were so deep! The bookcase I just installed is 7 1/2″ deep–that’s the narrowest one yet. Books just fit perfectly. And when you swing it open, ninety-degrees to the walls, the depth of the case doesn’t consume too much of the opening I.D.
Great article, thank you for posting. I am curious if anyone here has mounted a tall kitchen cabinet on a Rixon hinge.
We did our kitchen a year ago, and we love it, but could use more food storage space. We have a door in the kitchen that leads to the basement, and there is plenty of room in and around the doorway to place a 30″x 84″x 12″ pantry cabinet. I am considering ordering such a pantry to match our kitchen cabinets, and reinforcing the bottom of the cabinet to support a pivot (which would otherwise come with standard recessed toekick). I am not too worried about the hidden effect. I am more concerned with a fully functioning and durable hinge for what will be a very heavy door.
Thanks for your responses
I have a design ready to go and model 370 hinge in hand. It appears to me that there is about 3/8″ minimum head jamb clearance required in order to get the door on/off the bottom pin. It sounds like your design only had an 1/8″ clearance on top. Wouldn’t that mean you can only lift the door 1/8″?What am I missing here?
I have 1/4″ clearance between the head jamb and the top of the bookcase, but only about 1/16″ (or less!) between the top of the bookcase and the architrave bead molding at the bottom of the entablaure. After loosening the top jamb pivot screw and raising the pivot out of the top bookcase bracket, I swing the door or bookcase perpendicular to the opening, tilt it slightly toward the strike jamb, then raise it off the bottom pivot.
I found this article while searching for a way to finish off the one wall in my kitchen. I have a space of 18-24″ between my fridge and a wall that will be either a bookcase for cookbooks or a broom closet. I’m trying to make it both! Since it won’t be a room that someone needs to enter (just reach into) do you think your plan could work in my space? I’m sorry I don’t have more specific dimensions. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
Could you use a prexsisting door and attach a bookcase to it? I think if your low on cash it wouldn’t cost as much and if its where you want it to begin with all you would need is the wheels, bookcase and trim to match surrounding bookcases. I have old farmhouse and I was thinking of trying this. The only thing is I have to change the dirrection of the door opening in instead of out to hid hinges. But, thanks for the great tips
the bookcase very mice and your explanation in the video with the drawings is very clear and to the point, it helped me to design a hidden bookcase.
thanks for sharing.
The hinge placement measurement is the midpoint in the jamb – so in your example the width of your wall (jamb) was 3 1/2″? The framing in your scenario is 2×3’s then sheetrock on either side (2 1/2″ stud + 1/2″ + 1/2″)?
I’m referencing your December 9th, 2013 measurements reply to Jerry.
Just wanted to confirm. Thanks.
The hinge location should be established for each individual bookcase. One dimension–the backset from the jamb, is really more about stopping the door when it’s open 90 degrees to the wall. Look at the Sketchup Drawings and you’ll see what I mean. On the hidden door in my new house, which I just installed last year, the center of the hinge is 3 1/4 in. off the jamb–3 1/2 in. into the opening; while the backset from the plane of the wall is 1 1/2 in. So those dimensions can vary depending upon the trim you’re using and the design.
This has to be one of the best informational posts I have ever read, thanks. I am a carpenter and going to build a swing out bookcase. I have worked with large rixon floor pivots. Although these work amazing they do require a little patience. My question is I want to come up with and ornate multi member head trim that will hide the small gap between the cabinet and frame. Have you ever built anything like this. Possibly pulling the head detail forward so the cabinet appears to be set back?
I think that’s exactly what I did–used a classical head or entablature to hide the gap between the top of the bookcase and the head casing. The head is proud of the bookcase, so you can’t see the gap.
I’ve never made a ‘door’ that deep. The real problem will be that when the ‘cabinet’ is swung open, it will consume 18″ of the doorway width/opening, and if the cabinet is only 2′ wide, you won’t be able to walk past it! :):) You’ll need to use a different style of hinge–an offset pivot, but that would be visible.
First, thanks for the great article! Very informative.
I need to build a hidden door bookcase for access to a soundproof studio. There is also a standard wooden door on the studio side of the entrance. Question is: is it possible to build a bookcase in front of the wooden door. I am assuming the bookcase will need to stand proud of the wall on the living room side of the entrance. The total wall thickness is about 9.5″. My customer wants the bookcase shelves to be a minimum of 6.5″ deep. I plan to change out the door knob to allow the maximum clearance.
Another question: I read you added the vertical pieces with fasteners from the inside of the bookcase. How did you cover the heads of the fasteners so you would not see them. It seems like you would drive the fasteners from the outside so you will not see them when the bookcase is closed.
Thank you in advance for your reply.
Very minor detail. If you can build the case and it works, trust me, you won’t care where those screws are!!!
I came across your comment on this article as I was researching hidden bookcase doors. My husband and I are looking to install a door like this for entrance into our music studio. I was wondering if you completed your project and, if so, if you had any tips for us at all? Thanks so much in advance!
I am building 2 of these. But all the ones I see here are out swing mine are both in swing what are the differences in the construction if any?
The differences between the swing-out bookcase I wrote about and a swing-in bookcase are many–the hardware location, the trim details, etc. Providing exact directions would require a whole article on the subject. Also, for a swing-in door, you could use an offset pivot, which will swing the door/cabinet OUT of the door opening and provide a wider more unobstructed opening. Definitely a whole different deal!
I have a customer who want me to incorporate a hidden door that will swing into his hidden pantry closet in his new kitchen cabinet drawings that we are installing. The cabinet designer does not have a clue on how to build this or any design info. He just wants the faux cabinet front to swing into the pantry and be 100% seamless and hidden, AND he does not wants there to be a transition, threshold or step up on the floor leading to his pantry… It seems to me that there has to be at least a slight step up going into the pantry that would be about 3/4″ thick and then you could permanently attach a small piece of base shoe to conceal the bottom of door and blend into the base shoe that is on the cabinet toe kick throughout. Any feedback or input would be appreciated
Thank you for this article. Wonderful. Do you or anyone here know of someone willing to teach / train me how to do this_ I have moderate carpentry skills.
No, sorry. We do not provide that service! :)
This was VERY helpful for figuring out my own project, thanks.
I am curious why the pivot system you chose is better than a lazy Susan bearing joint that is rated for 500 pounds? I am drawing up my plans but had planned on the lazy Susan design because it is a 6″ wide bearing and dissipates the load over a larger area for the bookcase to swivel on.
Are you suggesting the hardware for a lazy Susan cabinet? Hummmmmm, that would be tough to install, I think. The Rixson hardware is designed specifically for a door. Why would you want to use hardware designed for a cabinet? The Rixson hardware allows you to install the ‘door’ and remove the ‘door’ easily, which is often necessary, especially during installation. Lazy Susan hardware is NOT easy to install or remove, and in order to do it, I always have to almost disassemble the cabinet. A lot of folks make suggestions about alternative hardware. So far, the only reason I’ve found for that is because they aren’t familiar with Rixson pivots. They can be a little intimidating, and a little expensive, but the learning curve is so rewarding–and the final outcome is, too.
Hi, I started this project and the local hardware did not have the correct pivot hinge. Plus, I was concerned about the weight and sagging. My modification was to castor the bookshelf and drill holes in top and bottom shelves. Then I took bolts and snugly fit them into the holes and added nuts. I drilled the same diameter holes in the upper and lower joists. I put the bookshelf in place and turned the nuts until the bolt went into the drilled holes in the joists tightening them until they went flush against the bookcase top and bottom shelves thus creating my own pivot with no weight at all on the pivot position.
You drilled through the joists? And threaded bolts and nuts? What? Please send some photos of that. So you must have had floor joists positioned perfectly on center beneath and above your bookcase, right at the pivot points? How did you access to top of the upper floor joists? Did you drill right through the second floor joists? You must have used some long through bolts, huh? I’d enjoy seeing the photos, if you have them. And the castor, I”m assuming it’s a wheel or something you put on the bottom of the case? Those usually leave marks on the floor, especially in carpet, and they wear a groove in vinyl, and even engineered flooring and some hardwood flooring, too, which is a sure tell that there’s a bookcase there. But maybe you’ve come up with a solution to that, too? Please send photos or sketches.
Gary, I will send better photos (you can see the wheels here) but I used the incorrect term by saying joists. The holes I drilled were into the floor and the 2×4 headers over the bookcase. I did not thread them, I just put them through holes and use bolts to move them up or down and hold them in place. Through bolts are about 8 inches. The floor is hardwood so the wheels (rubber) are fine and leave no marks. I apologize for my incorrect terminology, I am a pharmacist so these endeavors need more engineer-type terminology
I have been playing w/Sketchup to setup my own hidden entrance door. I have not been able to figure out to how to obtain the location of the rotation point/center that provides the minimal interaction of the door with the jambs. Whenever I place the Sketchup protractor I can obviously rotate the drawing (i.e., door) but cannot the display the dimensions of the center of the rotation point where the bearing would have to be placed. I obviously am overlooking something but have not been able to find any information on the web about that.
You have to use the Dimension Tool in order to made dimension notations. Click on that tool (looks like three lines with 3″ between them). Then click on one corner of the door and drag the tool to the center of the pivot point. The dimension tool will not work until there is either: a point, a corner, or you can use the tape measure tool to strike a guide line that intersects the edge of the door and the center point of the pivot, then use the Dimension Tool to click on the intersection points and develop the dimension. Hope you can understand that! :) Have you watched Todd Murdock’s Sketchup Tutorials? You should do that some time. Definitely worth the investment. Do a search on TiC for Sketchup and you’ll find them.
I have tried to use the dimension tool. My problem is just simply that after finding a good pivot point, I cannot create a permanent reference to it since during tool changes (e.g., from protractor to dimensional tool) the protractor disappears from the model leaving me with only my visual memory where the pivot point may have been. I suppose I could create the dimension with the dimension tool based on that memory, use the protractor based on those dimension and then basically narrow its location that way until I find the sweet spot. I had looked at Todd’s tutorials but never found one associated with this exact problem (i.e., protractor pivot points). I’ll keep looking however.
Thanks by the way for all of your instructions. I’ll be creating a shoe rack to mask the access to a utility closet to create some real utility in that closet. I purchased one of the hinges from the Murphy Door folks and it looks pretty sturdy, at least for what I am going to be doing. I hope the $100 that I paid for the entire set was a fair price. I’l let you know how that worked when I am done with it as some of your readers had been concerned about price points.
Use the tape measure tool. Create guide lines in both directions. Then pull the dimension. From the guide lines. You can delete the guide lines after you pull the dimension.
Gary, here are the pictures of the carriage bolt I used as a hinge on the wheeled bookcase. The floor is easily recognizable. The top has two pictures. One shows the bolt through the header, the other jus shows the top of the bookcase.
here is the bottom pivot
here is the top pivot through the header
here is the bookcase closes
here is the bookcase closed
Very interesting and innovative approach. I suspect it doesn’t work anywhere near as smoothly as my Rixson pivot hinge with allows the completely full bookcase to glide on bearings as if it were suspended on a cushion of air. And the Rixson hinge will last indefinitely, while you’re bolt will slowly wear away the wood on the case, definitely not something I could do as a professional on someone’s home.
Gary, I think you did a great job and it really helped me on the entire job. Thanks for your detailed explanation. Next time I will order the Rixson ahead of time. I plan to do another very soon. Best Regards.
I’m no master carpenter by any stretch but I thoroughly enjoyed your article and the comments that followed. This is very concise and jam packed with useful information, not just about pivot hinges and hidden doors but woodworking and design in general. Thanks so much for your work!
I am thinking of building a hidden wine cellar under my stairs with a setup like this. Any thoughts on how to build an insulated bookcase? Thanks
Insulate the back with rigid foam and weatherstrip the stop?
Hey Gary. I am just a homeowner who likes projects and decided to try and build my own bookcase door. I have most of it built but have not ordered hinges yet. The bookcase is 13″ deep. I am wondering roughly how much gap I’ll need on the strike side of the bookcase it will be closing on another bookcase. Instead of
Beveling I plan to use a wider piece of trim board for the stop but not sure what the gap would be. Thanks
Oh gosh, I think you have the cart before the horse or something like that. It’s always better to have the hardware you’re going to use ‘in your hand’ before you begin, and even make a mock-up of the thing so that you can ‘install’ the hardware in the mockup to test everything. Sketchup now allows us to skip the mockup, but you still need a good drawing. The question you asked is precisely the reason for the mockup or a good drawing: I can’t tell you what the gap will need to be without knowing what type of hardware you’re going to use, and without knowing the position or location of the hardware–if it’s a pivot hinge you’re planning on using. Off hand, I say you need a good 1/4 in. gap, but that’s just a wild guess without knowing the hardware and the whole design. A 13 in. deep cabinet would normally require a much bigger gap IF YOU AREN’T BEVELING THE STRIKE SIDE!
Gary, Thanks for the prompt response! I do realize I jumped the gun a little bit! I built the cabinet in 2 sections. The left side is stationary. It is 24″ wide. The right side consists of a 18″ and 24″ piece tied together, which will open as the whole door. This should leave me with a 28″ opening or so. There is no existing jamb. I will be framing one to mount everything to. I will be using a Rixon 370 for the hardware. . I need to keep the gap between them as small as possible so I can try to keep my cabinets symmetrical. Any suggestion on the hardware location? Or do I just need to build a mock up and play with it? I am hoping I can make it work with no more than a 2″ gap between. Does that sound like a realistic spacing to you? Thanks
I’m designing a very similar bookcase, but the bottom detail is different: The floor is flush on both sides of the “doorway” and the bottom shelf will be at top of the baseboard. Therefore, we have the option to locate the bottom of the case (vertically) anywhere behind a false baseboard kick piece. We could mount the bottom pivot hardware securely without mortises. Is there reason to think that mortising is structurally necessary? Or even helpful? Thanks.
That sounds exactly like the design I use, with a ‘toe kick’ that allows the baseboard to run through beneath the pivot hardware. The pivot in the ‘floor’ doesn’t need to be mortised, but both pivots in the bookcase/door should be mortised, so that they won’t move. The screws used to secure the pivots in the bookcase/door do just that–they secure the pivot in the mortise, but they don’t stop the pivot from moving. The mortise does that. Plus the mortise and the templates ensure that the pivots are all installed in precisely the right location. That’s the main reason I love mortises and templates.
Any of you handy folk in the Los Angeles area? I have been trying to find someone to do this for me and have no luck. I’m near LAX airport. Please email if you are local to me and are interested in making and installing a hidden bookcase door for me! Marligiannini@hotmail.com
I really like this project and step by step instructions. Now all I need is $2000+ in wood and $15,000 in Fest tools.
Hardly true, in fact, completely false. Most of the bookcase comes from 2 sheets of mahogany veneer plywood, with a few sticks of solid mahogany. Maybe $500 TOPS. And you don’t need ANY Festool tools to do the work. Not one. I just happen to have a lot of them. Yes, they make some tasks easier, but I worked for more than thirty years without any Festool tools and somehow managed to make a pretty good living! What a miracle!
Do you have a hinge recommended for an out-swinging bookcase that opens 180 degrees? Finish opening is only 18″ wide so a pivot hinge will only leave me about a 10″ clear opening if bookcase is 7″ deep
I am planning to start this project but was wondering if it is possible to do this without a complete threshold? Instead of a theshold that extends the entire length of the door opening is it possible to mount the bottom pivot hinge on just a 10 inch section? We would like to eliminate the theshold from the door opening.
Thank you, Rick
You don’t have to use the ‘plinth’ section under the door at all, but if you don’t and the door swings over carpet, you’ll ‘see’ it for what it is. And if it swings over hardwood, you might see a gap, too, at the bottom.
HELP ME PLEASE !
looked at loads of vids on you tube and your site is by far the best I’ve seen so far although Im still scratching my head a bit.
I started my project a long time before seeing your web page and so did it slightly differently. I took an old bookshelf and made it sturdier by adding 2 strips of 18mm plywood to the top of bookcase and same to bottom so that the pivot hinges (ball bearing type) can be recessed into the bookcase without coming through into the top / bottom shelf. My pivot hinge points are pretty much where yours are and the face of the bookshelf is flush with the face of plasterboard BUT…. the architrave is causing me a problem !!! GRRRR. The horizontal architrave at top (SIDE 3 ON MY DRAWINGS ATTACHED needs opening tolerance otherwise it will clash with next architrave (side 2) as the bookshelf opens. I have to hide the 2 layers of plywood but it seems impossible to do this with the architrave. Please help Thanks Nigel (Mottram, England)
I’m not 100% certain what you’re talking about, but I’m guessing that you’re attaching the architrave molding to the bookcase and can’t open the case? Of course you can’t. I don’t know how you’re going to use a plan mitered architrave molding on a hidden bookcase. That’s why I used an entablature that is fastened to the wall and the case swings out from beneath it.
I was looking for a way to do a swing out bookcase and your article gave me the exact answer I needed on how to make it pivot.
One thing that was not addressed, as far as I could tell, is approximately how many hours it took to fabricate and install the case ? ( not including correcting mistakes.)
I have been a professional woodworker for more than 30 years, and I have been trying to estimate time/labor for this but can’t seem to wrap my head around a number.
Can you help?
How much to build and ship one to Texas 77384?
Half the expense of a hidden-pivot bookcase is the install! And the installation is tricky. Before I’d even think once about shipping one to someone, I’d want to be sure they were up to the task. And I’d need good photos and rock-solid measurements of the opening. And are you painting it or staining it? And what’s the rough size?
Thank you so much for your wonderful site.
We are retired and settled and bought a small few centuries old farm house in outskirt of Florence. As you can see there is no Sheetrock and the walls are solid cement. Please kindly advise how to anchor a wood frame around it (before I even start a bookcase swing out door).
My second option is:
The back of this flimsy colorful half glass door is a bathroom, upon entering right against wall on the right side is a long 8′ high radiator sticking out about 10-12cm, I was hoping to build a bookcase extended on both outside (by the light switch) so either side will have smaller skinnier bookcase. It will extend to top of the ceiling. This way I don’t have to anchor the cement wall. Please kindly advise. Thanks so much.
Did you have to reinstall the base support after applying the finished facing? The installation pic shows 1/2 in. recess with no facing, which on 1/2 in. material leaves no 1/2 in. overhang. Later pics show trim out with 1/2 in. returns and a finished toe kick. Am I correct or am I missing something?
Thanks for this write-up. I’m in the middle of finishing my basement and have decided to go with a hidden door into my gun/storage room. I want it to be flanked by 2 identical bookshelves on either side so that it blends in a bit better and looks like a nice set of built-ins. My question is, since there is no wall there at all right now, is there anything that I should do to make my life easier since I will be able to layout the rough opening however I want?
I’m sorry if I forgot to resond to your note. I’ve been in another space for the last week or two.
Your situation is the BEST of all possible scenarios! You can design ANYTHING you want. And I can’t stress that enough: you should draw the whole thing, to exact dimensions, in Sketchup or something, then build it. You could do a swing-in bookcase instead of a swing out, too, because you’ll definitely have the jamb width to mount the hinge on the inside. You could use an offset pivot hinge, too, which would swing the door a little more out of the door opening and provide a wider opening. All of that can be ‘tested’ in Sketchup. If you have back-to-back bookcases, with stiles separating each case, then the stiles will act as stops for the center case, and hide any gaps. I could go on, but you probably get the picture. Oh, and if it door swings in, you could have the toe-kick swing with the door, so the floor is clear. The basement room could be carpeted right up to the toe-kick! And then use vinyl or something inside the hidden gunroom so the toe-kick can swing over it without dragging. As I said, I could go on (and on and on)…but I think you get the picture!
Good luck! Take pictures! Write and article for TiC!!!!!
I’m finishing up the design now, I don’t have access to sketchup or anything like that (just a hobbyist) so just designing it on graph paper and creating some mock-ups out of plywood to figure out the reveals and pivot location. Unfortunately it will need to be an outswing door as an inswing would take up too much of the room inside.
I’m in WAY over my head with this but optimistic that it’ll turn out well. Thanks for all of the help!
WAIT! :). there is a FREE version of Sketchup. Trust me, you’re embarking on a project that will be MUCH easier and far more fun if you draw it first in Sketchup. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Once you get the drawing started, send it to me and I’ll check it and maybe tweak it a little.
Thanks for the tip about free sketchup and suggestions! I’ve been figuring out the best way to do this and sketchup has been a huge help. I’m considering switching to an inswing door, but having an issue with it hanging up on the front trim on the swing side. I’d be curious to know your thoughts.
You will need to use an offset pivot so the front of the case clears the edge of the trim as it’s closing. If you use a center-hung pivot, you’ll have to chamfer or ease the front corner of the case. And the trim will have to be wide enough to cover that.
It’s been quite a while, but I wanted to say thank you again for all of the information here. With your help I was able to design and build an AWESOME hidden room that I love.
Thank you so much for your article! My wife and I are finishing our basement and needed access to a storage crawl space. We wanted to take advantage of every bit of wall space so a pivoting bookcase was a great solution. Besides, doesn’t everyone want a secret door in their house? I ended up buying pivot hinges from Murphy Door and between their instructions, your explanations and my trial and error on Vectorworks I think we’ve got it. My biggest issue is trying to hide the seam. Its an outswing door and there is no way to move the top trim with the bookcase so the it has to swing under the trim as you have shown. I think I can get 1/16″ gap but am a little afraid of this 1907 house settling. I’ve already had to rehang my interior doors! Would a 1/8″ gap show too much? I’ve done stage carpentry for 30 years and have remodeled several houses to the studs.
If I were you, I’d make that gap so tight that it almost rubs, then anticipate it will settle. Maybe in a few years you’ll have to shim the bottom pivot up a little. That’s what’s happening to my bookcase door. But I’m not too concerned. I think the bookcase is so iconic–like you when you see a wide yellow strip in the road you think it’s a speed bump when it’s just a painted strip– that people don’t ‘think’ it could be a door, so they don’t think to look for telltale signs. Of course YOU know it’s a door, so it’s exactly the opposite, YOU think everyone will notice it’s a door, but they don’t and they won’t. Kind of like slight of hand magic. It’s an illusion that everyone believes even though it isn’t true, kind of like politics…we supposedly have a Democratic REPUBLIC but… well, I won’t go there right now. Aren’t you glad?
Thank you Gary,
I agree about the illusion. I’ve done theatre for so long it can be hard to go see big shows because I sit their trying to figure out “how they did that” and end up missing the story.
Last question is whether I need to back the cases (their are two setup as French doors) with 1/4″ or 1/2″ ply? I suppose the 1/2″ would be extra strength insurance against racking and sagging.
1/2″. No question about it. You really need the shear/rigidity of 1/2″. That’s what stops the case from sagging/twisting, etc. Shoot photos! Video! WRite an article for TiC!!
Here’s a jpeg of the vectorworks drawing. I can also send plan view details. I’m building the cases this weekend and will send photos
If I would like the shelf to sit out from the wall 3 inches (not flush) what adjustments would need to be made?
I think you’d have to use a different hinge, not a center pivot but an offset pivot and it might be visible, depending on how you designed the trim. I’ve never done a project like that, so I have no drawings or experience and can’t make a definitive judgement!
I’m building a new house and need to have 1-8′ wall (x 8′ high) pivot 90 degrees so that I can pull a murphy bed down… any suggestions?
I’d have to see some drawings with good details before I could offer any advice! I have no idea what you mean or why you’d need a pivot wall.
Thanks for all the instructions and tips, extremely helpful. I’m building this to access a bonus room from my kids bedroom. Question though on the 1/2″ back. You indicated you used glue and screws. I’m assuming you prefinished the back with stain/poly? What kind of glue do you use then to glue a finished back to the unfinished shelves?
Thanks for posting this. I found it many years later and used it to do a bookcase door in my own house. I was able to save myself some headache by seeing where you ran into trouble. I would have likely had many of the same problems otherwise.
Sketchup is invaluable for me as well when I do woodworking plans. Used to hand draw everything.
Gary, your article is the best!!!
I have one question for you in reference to setting the center point of the 370 hinge ( I am using the ABH0370 which is exactly the same as the Rixon just cheaper).
I am a novice carpenter and have built a sturdy bookshelf for a secret door into m room.
The dimensions of the door jamb are 39 5/16 wide and 76 3/4 in high
The door dimensions are 38 11/16 wide 7 7/8 deep and 76 1/16 high.
The issue right now I am having is that the hinge instructions call for the top hinge to be set 2” from the door jamb but after plumbing the door the bottom hinge doesn’t have enough room to be center with the top, I need to move the top center another 3/4 of an inch.
With that being said can I move the top hinge another 3/4” away from the jamb so that I can get the bottom hinge to properly center without any issues?
I don’t want to do ANY mortising before I figure this out as I fear making the wrong cuts/mortises will be unfixable if I screw up.
Also, I have don’t the whole build without a drawing and am almost there with minimal mess-ups but have been at it almost 3 weeks ( although I wish I would have sketched it out as you suggested).
Lastly, I don’t know how much of a bevel i need to use for the strike side and hinge side?
FYI has to be inswing and I have test fit it to the opening and don’t see that there will be any contact with the strike side of the jamb but that doesn’t mean there won’t be.
Thank you very much for any assistance!!
I live in Moorpark, California
Would like a hidden door in the form of a Pool Cue Case.
Need someone like a finished carpenter to build it and someone to install it.
Very nice build
Just an FYI. Regarding hinges : I found a hinge made by SOSS which I hav used on a bookcase door I have constructed which while technically advanced to install is both completely conceiled and strong. 4 will easily carry 400 pounds….. I used 5.
SOSS Door Hardware
Division of Universal Industrial Products Inc.
One Coreway Drive
P. O. Box 628
Pioneer, OH 43554
419-37-2324 ex: 306
Nice plug for Soss hinges, but trust me, it’s a LOT LOT LOT easier to use a Rixson pivot hinge than a series of Soss hinges. And the end result is far better, and much more reliable. Besides, Soss hinges are terrible when it comes to designing the trim package: they do NOT have enough throw for the trim to clear. Even if you’re just installing a mirror on a wall with a Soss invisible door, you have to install the hinge FLUSH to the face of the door or the mirror will bind. Been there. Done that.
My bookshelf door is 90 inches tall and 56 3/4inches wide…..no sag thus far…..😁💪🏻
Cannot seem to load pics very well
Thanks for the article, followed it closely for a build I did recently. photo attached!
Hello- I have an existing bookcase wall surrounding a fireplace with a door to the basement right next to the fireplace, I would love to have a bookcase door instead but don’t have the carpentry skills to DIY this. I live in upstate NY, any recommendations for a skilled carpenter to design and build this?
Thank you so much for the great instructions!!
Copied the idea and suited to my needs, worked out great. The Rixson hinges made the job a lot easier, and your 3-D images in “start with a drawing” were key. I didn’t learn Sketch-Up, did an old school mockup, but it’s definitely on my list to do.
thanks again for the great illustrations, pictures, and text, took a few readings for the novice carpenter I am – but really, really helped!
Adrian, I’m totally with you on the mock-ups! That’s what I did for decades, and it worked just fine. In fact, just the other day I made a coffee table with angled legs and made full size mock-ups for all that joinery. Of course, I did a drawing, too, but a drawing is just a drawing. Sometimes it’s all you need, but not always. The point is to eliminate foolish mistakes caused by our own limitations at visualizing. Once you accept that you’re not a grand master chess player, it’s much easier to feel comfortable and successful using mockups.
Glad that Rixson worked for you!
Gary, I wanted to show you a hidden door I found in the farmhouse I purchased. The house was built in 1794 in Vermont.
The original owner said that he had lived there since 1930 and it was old then.
The door is bookcase style. mounted on 4 heavy hinges with a steel caster skate wheel that rides up a hardwood ramp for alignment. There is a turnbuckle across the back diagonally to prevent racking.
It has had a lot of years as the hardwood ramp has a worn groove from the wheel!
I seem to only be able to post one picture so I will post it in open position.
Thank You for creating this. I’ve had a lot of DIY projects and this one has me struggling as I have an idea in my head and then must create it. I think I might be out of my depth on this project. Is there a way you could email me with phone info?
Thanks for your years helping us build hidden doors.
I’m having my cabinet maker build an out-swing bookcase door (from my SketchUp drawings) next to two fixed bookcases. It will be 35″ wide, 9 to 10″ deep, and 106″ tall. The Rixson 370 set says it’s good for up to 8’6″, but we’re 4″ over that. I don’t expect anything shocking to occur at 8’7″, but I wonder if we might have a problem. The Rixson 375 set is supposed to be used in this case, but it is substantially more expensive and harder to get.
A taller cabinet is heavier, but I suspect that the problem might be more an issue of vertical expansion/contraction, which a taller unit might experience, possibly causing the hinge to disengage at the top. Have you or anyone else had any experience with this? Has a 370 ever failed to meet your needs? Any suggestions on how to mitigate a potential problem? This will be used in recent, solidly-built construction.
Hello i hope you can help me I live in a older home I have tall kitchen cabinets I have read in the home that I live in my have some secrecy doors my question is how would I be able to identify I’m a first time home owner I really do Thank you for any info if I can I can send you pic to give you a better idea what I’m trying to explain Thank You Sandra