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My good friends, Josh and Amy, recently renovated their attic and were able to close off some of the “unusable” space into a secret room.  Josh has wanted to have a secret room his entire life, and with their first child on his way soon, the recent renovation was the perfect way to make it happen.  The whole idea is for his son, in about four years, to find a secret playroom in his house!

The renovation left an opening for me to build the bookcase in, framed out simply as a short door frame. Even though the walls are new construction, the floor and ceiling have been around since the 1920’s.  Old construction adds a whole lot of variables to making built in cabinetry, and I definitely ran into lots of hurdles because of it.

There are still several things to go back and fix up, even though it’s “complete”.  I need to add quarter round at the bottom, touch up some paint and paint the backside of the cabinet to mask some of the modifications that I had to make mid-project.

Ultimately, I spent a lot of time, trimming, sanding, shimming and adjusting to make the cabinet fit, roll, open and close like I wanted it to, but it was TOTALLY worth it.  My friend is extremely happy with it, and it ended up working better than I ever thought it would!


This project was partially supported by Nicholas Gomez on Patreon! Thanks to Nicholas for all of his awesome support!

The front face was made with pocket holes and fits the opening of the room.


Add pieces for the fronts of the shelves.


The cabinet is made from MDF, sized to the inside dimensions of the face frame.


Counter sink screws to strengthen the cabinet.


Make pocket holes on the side panels, to connect the face frame.


Glue on the frame, line up the corners and brad nail it in place.


Permanently connect the face frame with pocket hole screws.


Using a square, draw reference lines for placing the shelves.


Cut MDF for shelves, and drill pocket holes in the underside.


Using glue, line up the shelves, before screwing them in on all sides.


Fill holes on the frame with wood filler, then sand smooth.


Add 1/8″ plywood to each shelf with a few brads, making it easy to remove in case of emergency.


Glue on a reinforcing strip on the back of the hinge side of the frame.


Use the included template to place the hinges.


These hidden hinges work great for this application.


Drill holes, per hinge instructions.


Clean out the mortise with a knife and chisel.


Place the hinge, pre drill the holes, then screw them in place.


Attach heavy duty casters, angled AWAY from the hinge side.


Cut pieces of wood, and wrap them in a book cover.


Set the cabinet in place, and mark the center of the hinge. Cut hinges as before.


Screw hinges to the door frame.


Make a bracket the same depth as the cabinet, to hold the latch.


Add pocket holes, for attaching it to the door frame.


Screw the bracket to the door frame, from both sides.


Attach the stationary part of the latch to the bracket.


Add a support and the latch to the back of the cabinet.


Add a handle to close the door from inside.


Make sure everything closes and is lined up correctly.


Cut out a slot, above the latch, for the wire to pass through.


Add an eyelet and thick gauge wire to the back of the book.


Using a hinge, connect the book to the shelf.


Feed the wire through the slot you made previously.


Attach the wire to the latch. Adjust so that the book opens and closes the latch.


All done!


Take your time, adjust as needed, and it will work out great!


  • Arno

    Awesome !!!

  • Jimmy

    Now that is cool

  • Terry Lovell

    EXCELLENT PROJECT->I ordered the Audible books by Weir…I love to listen to the stories while WW….THANKS FOR THE GREAT PROJECT-I’ll let you know if I like Weir!

  • JC

    Dude all your stuff rocks and your videos are very well done.

  • Andrew

    say i were to use this idea for my man cave, BUT instead of the thin ply wood on the back, i wanted to use one way glass so if I’m inside i can see out, but all they see behind the books is themselves, would that be possible?

  • Andrew

    Will this design work if the doors push instead of pull out?

    • Joshua Ruby

      You’d have to adapt the hidden lines of the frame a little differently, but the concept of doors swinging in instead of out is quite common. You could do a simple design of having the front perimeter be inside a cased frame and have it butt up to it when closed. Very popular method. Just put the hinges on the back corner instead of front, and account for diagonal length for closing. Most hidden doors are swing in (because they are often used for panic rooms which should always swing in), so you’ll find a lot of resources for that style. You may have to get more creative with your locking mechanism that way, but it’s not impossible.

  • Taylor

    Very cool. Congrats on the new transition. Did you snag a new table saw?

  • jonas


  • Mick Bakos

    Epic. Always wanted one of these! Thanks a million mate.

  • Andrew Logue

    Love this! Great Video! I have a question though. I want to make something like that that will go between my walk in closet and my bathroom. Do you have any ideas of how to make the door hidden from both sides?

    • Vlad Pineta

      You can make this twice… so can be a bookcase in a part and a bookcase in other part… or whatever you want. And the mecanics to be in middle. I f you want we can talk on skype VladIPlay22 … i will try to make a schem on sketchup.. 🙂

  • Katherine

    It’s a dream come true!I always wanted one and want oneSTILL!!!!

  • Phillius Thomas

    And now my house shall be filled with secrets! I would love to have a couple of these, then make a scavenger hunt to be able to find them. Put things like riddles and keys in certain areas. I am sure my kids would love to go through it at least once, and that would be worth it to me.

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  • Me and my dad are considering making one but we can’t find a place for it.
    Any ideas of having it swing open and rather than a room have something on the back of the bookshelf like a hidden key rack or something. Any ideas?

  • Danny Schwartz

    I can’t find the links to buy all that stuffs, where are they?

  • Jason

    Can you let me know the cuts for the project?

  • Randy

    Aweome project that will fit a similar situation in my house. It looks like you use 1 x 4 Pine boards for the front and 3/4″ MDF for the cabinets? is this about right?

  • qhamellya


  • Hisham Kafafy

    That is so awesome nice job, but i have one question where can i buy a door latch like that ? thx

  • ibrahim

    how would it be different if you wanted to make it swing inside

  • Amy

    Please come do this at my house!

  • Lego Man

    how much did this cost total? $50?

  • Matthew S

    Awesome video. Were building one of these for our crawl space. Hopefully it will look as good as yours.

  • David Sanderson

    Fantastic guide. Just built one of these for an escape game, looks great and should be a nice surprise for the players

  • BaelRathLian

    Do you know of any hinges that are rated above 500 lbs for this project? I have a lot of heavy books that would go well on this.

    • Shannon Bovin

      Keep in mind that the bookshelf is on casters, which carry the weight for you.

      • BaelRathLian

        That’s good to know. I’m shooting for as much weight as I can get, because I have no idea what might get put on it in the future and I had an interesting idea of putting a HDTV in the center-ish area of it. Among other ideas I am kicking around.

  • groov99

    How did you figure the angle for the wheels?

    This video is how I decided I could do this project, especially the mistake. It made me appreciate your videos immensely!

    • I actually had a 2×4 the length of the shelves (their width) and held the wheel on it, pivoting it on the opposite end. I just adjusted the angle of the wheel until it seemed to roll smoothly (ish) then marked it’s position.
      Thanks!! Are you going to make one??

      • groov99

        I’m in the process right now. Mine has some other complications, its actually swinging into the room, its a full size door, and its double doors. But seriously, wouldn’t have had the courage with your videos! Thanks a million!

      • Krista

        Would you use a rotating wheel. If not, why?

        • groov99

          I’d think the rotating wheel wouldn’t work because one edge of the bookcase is stationary, or the pivot point. the swivel, or rotating wheels need a little motion to the sides (think office chair).

          • Jason Hayes

            I think it *might* work, especially if you were to only use one wheel, on the far side of the bookshelf. Perhaps going with something with a higher load rating. The point that it came to rest would leave the wheel at the right angle to start its swing back in the opposite direction. I’m also considering going with spring loaded casters – since my shelf will be making a transition from carpeted to hardwood.

  • CiWayne

    Hey man, your site is awesome! What a resource! I’ve always wanted to do this and my parents just got a new house. We are finishing the basement right now and haven’t added a door to the unfinished furnace room. To maintain building code we have to use a sealed door. Any advice on building a shelf that could meet that code? Thanks a million!

    • Thanks! The friends I did this one for just framed and trimmed the opening and screwed in a temporary plywood panel to pass code inspections. After that was passed, we took it down and built the book case.

  • W. Littrell

    I did this with a bookshelf assembly that I did that swung open from the middle and latched it with a screen door latch assembly. Used it to close off a closet.

  • Grégory Nykiel

    Hi! Could you tell me how you call the tool you use to drilled obliquely ?
    Gregory@poge thanks

    • All of the tools are listed at the top of the page, but do you mean http://azon.ly/PFoe5R ?

    • Grégory Nykiel

      Yes that’s it ! I found with some keywords 😉 I like to do it myself like you! You can be so proud. Thanks

  • baaimagoat

    This is awesome

    in my book

  • Beverly Jo

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Thank you!!!!!

  • Daniel Carlson

    Would it work to change the hinge type and oversize your face frame to basically make the trim part of the bookcase? I wonder if that would make it easier to get things lined up and flush since it would be one unit? I need to build one of these under some basement stairs in a few weeks.

    • It really depends on how to need it to swing. If it swings IN, the trim can be stationary and hide the seam well. If it swings OUT (like this one did), the trim can’t be attached to the hinged side as it has no place to go when the book case moves outward.

  • Trinidad Rodriguez

    This is probably the best “how to” video on the Internet; the pace of the video — very quick and to the point — kept my interest. Nice job putting all of this together. What’s more, you mention all of the mistakes that were made, and the remedies or corrections to make this project come out the right way. Furthermore, adding pictures of the process along the way should help any Do It Yourself Person manage to make something just like this or very similar. Excellent job!

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  • spencer

    how did you take measurements

  • BaelRathnnLian

    This Will Work great to store my gun safe and many more things in my office so my kids don’t get into trouble while i am gone

  • spencer

    how did you measure the door way

  • Anthony

    How much did this cost

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