The Magic Bookcase

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Who doesn't want a hidden door book case?! It's just plain cool and usually pretty practical! If you missed our Instagram stories of the process, this post will give you a little recap and show you how we built ours using only 150$ worth of materials!


In our case, this book case is practical for 3 reasons:

  1. The obvious: We have a lot of books and wanted to organize and display them all

  2. It hides a secondary door we rarely use that goes into our tenant's apartment

  3. Creates a sound barrier between our tenant's space and our space

We kept it simple: The entire frame of our book case is made of MDF and we used 2x12 construction lumber to make the shelves. Below is the quick design plan we did. We had to make sure it would hide the entire width of the 36" door + the trim, which is why it's so big.

We started by ripping the MDF sheets using our table saw to create the panels that will make up the frame of the book case: back panel, side panels, top and bottom as well as all the trim pieces.

We also wanted to give the back panel a ship lap look so we used the table saw to make vertical 3/16" grooves every 4 inches. (I'm sorry these photos are blurry, they are screen shots of time lapse videos since I didn't actually think of taking pictures too)

We then started on the shelves. We wanted to get those sanded, stained and lacquered so they can dry for a few days while we were busy building the rest of it.

Tip: we use cotton carpenter gloves on top of latex gloves and just dip our fingers in the stain and apply it directly to accelerate the process.

Next it was time to assemble the frame. We used a nail gun with 1" nails as well as a crap load of wood glue. (We made sure to do a dry fit before nailing everything together to see if anything needed an adjustment)

Once assembled, we did a dry fit with the shelves as well.

We also designed the depth of the book case to allow for a 1.5 inch gap behind the back panel, that way we could add the rigid insulation to create that sound bearing practicality we needed.

The next step we had to do is the part I find so boring: caulking the seems, puttying the nail holes and sanding. Like the DIY Accent wall, I used DryDex spackling and a 2 inch putty knife for the putty.

Once the boring part was over, I got excited to start painting! The only problem was that I under estimated how much time it would actually take. MDF is such an absorbent material, it took 4 coats of paint (or was it 5? I honestly lost count). I could of used the spray gun to save time but that's Rob's toy and he doesn't let me play with it without his supervision. (I'm not really kidding). I get him though, our spray gun is an older, bigger bulky model and it's a hassle to set up. So manual labor it was!

Once we finished painting it, we laid it on its back to not ruin the paint and went on to install the casters underneath. We marked the radius of the turn in order to know the best place to put the casters for proper weight distribution. (The picture below shows only 2/3 of the installed casters, I forgot to take a picture with the 3rd one. I guess we were too busy trying to get this heavy thing back up and down the stairs to it's spot.)

Rob added backing where the hinges needed to go so it would be flush with the edge of the book case and the wall. Then he added another trim piece directly on the wall beside the casing of the tenant's door, he hung it in place and that's it! Now we have a gorgeous, sound bearing, door hiding book case that beautifully displays all our books AND we can easily swing it out of the way when we need to get to the door behind it.

It's cooler if you see the video though. If you haven't seen it yet, hop on over to our Instagram page and check it out. You can view the videos of the build process in our highlight called "Home DIYs"

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