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woodskill's picture

Anybody out there familiar with hidden or "secret doors"?  I've built a few utilizing SOS hinges but I've had a recent request that's gotten my noodle in a twist.  It seems this client would like her doors to be 8' tall, flush with the face of the wall on both sides (without any caseing mouldings), no jamb head (ie: door goes floor to ceiling), and no visible hardware.  Ultimately the door has to be as thick as the wall itself, which, in my limited experience poses clearance and mounting issues with the SOS hardware I'm familiar with.  Finally, when the door is closed it is to blend nearly seamlessly with the existing wall.  I've just started the brainstorming process and I wondering about spring loaded pivots, resturaunt-style double swinging doors, etc.  Any suggestions to help guide a youngster in the right direction?


Thanks=>David

(post #96931, reply #60 of 72)

You throw out your knives! What are you nuts. One of the great things abought having a shop is the collection of knives, router bits, and other tooling you add to your arsenal, that the clients paid for. Do you throw away other specialty tools after you use them once. Regardless, send your knives, whatever the profile, my way if you dont want them.

(post #96931, reply #61 of 72)

I used to sell off or toss things, until I figured out that the answer to the question "When will I ever need that again?"  is always "About two weeks after you get rid of it."  ;-)


 


-- J.S.


 

 

 

-- J.S.

 

(post #96931, reply #62 of 72)

If you guys keep this up, my wife's going to get wind of it and make me stop visiting. I'm a natural-born packrat, and she's been working on me for years to change that.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #96931, reply #64 of 72)

Way to set the curve tone.  YOU must have gotten geometry class.


Thanks=>dAvid

(post #96931, reply #66 of 72)

Thanks. Um actually I did'nt do so well in geometry class. As you will notice by the name I am a bit of a tinkerer, sometimes good ideas just pop in my head. I do have one patent tho # 5820139
Hope you take pics as the job progresses and post them.

(post #96931, reply #12 of 72)

What is the finish of the surrounding walls?  Plaster?  wood paneling?

(post #96931, reply #32 of 72)

The finish surround will be plaster EVERYWHERE, with a patina concrete floor.

(post #96931, reply #17 of 72)

No moulding or anything? How is that going to be truly hidden? Won't there be a crack in the plaster?

Anyway, just to throw something out, since budget seems unlimited, does the door absolutely have to open on the horizontal plane? Could it be built to sink into the floor or rise into the ceiling a la Get Smart? That would get rid of all the problems of a swinging door where the floors aren't perfectly level ;-) Of course, you might need to have an engineer and who knows what else figure this all out. If I had a door like that, I'd want some demo equipment stored inside in case it came off its tracks.

Otherwise, since there's no hardware visible, I think you would need two trapezoids - one opening in and another opening out. The door woudl need to swing both ways.

Invisible hinges:
http://www.hardwaresource.com/Store_ViewCatLevel3.asp?Cat=599&OrderID=

(post #96931, reply #18 of 72)

I think most of the traditional 'secret doors' were concealed in trimwork, shelves, or some such.  A plain white wall would be hard to conceal a door in, unless the whole wall was a door. 


 Cloud inserted a picture of a shelf-concealed door.  Attached is a pic of one my uncle put in his house.  He has a shelf unit on either side of the 'secret' doorway.  There is actually enough gap between the two that someone can stand between them with the shelves pulled shut.  Technically his isn't a secret door, it was just one of the novelties he included for the grandkids to play with.


I don't know the exact hinges he used, but they kinda look like piano hinges.  They extend down the height of the shelf unit (72" piano hinge?).  The doors open with very little effort, even with a load of books on the shelves.  Dont' know what the doorframe blocking consisted of.


 


jt8

jt8

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
-- Carl Sandburg

(post #96931, reply #20 of 72)

Now, that's the way to hinge a bookcase.


As opposed to trying to do that with a bookcase "buried" in a wall . . .


Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)
I may not be able to help you Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)

(post #96931, reply #21 of 72)

A plain white wall would be hard to conceal a door in, unless the whole wall was a door. 


Ah, cut control joints in the wall at exactly the door spacing.  Then, the door panel looks like any of the other panels.


Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)
I may not be able to help you Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)

(post #96931, reply #22 of 72)

john.. i built a "nancy drew" door like  the one in your picture for a client in 1980..


 we used a piano hinge


Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

(post #96931, reply #23 of 72)

john.. i built a "nancy drew" door like  the one in your picture for a client in 1980..


 we used a piano hinge


Was the piano hinge strong enough to hold the shelf (with books) up by itself, or did you sneak a caster under the shelf?


jt8

jt8

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
-- Carl Sandburg

(post #96931, reply #24 of 72)

That's the problem with a bookshelf door. If you really load it with books you can have several hundred pounds, and you either need a really massive hinge or casters on the bottom. And the caster marks will be a give-away, if you're really trying to keep it secret.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #96931, reply #25 of 72)

One door I saw once (really just designed to allow access to the attic staircase) was concealed behind a shoe rack in the back of a closet. Pretty easy to hide something in the back of a closet, since you don't have to match the rest of a wall, and lighting is generally less than ideal.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #96931, reply #26 of 72)

there was no castor... but  the details are a little vague... it was 24 years ago


this was about  2' wide x 3' high tucked into a kneewall


Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith   Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

(post #96931, reply #19 of 72)

Ya gotta have something -- paneling with joints, bookcases, etc, to break up the wall and hide the door edges. You also need some sort of clearance top and bottom for the door to open without dragging on the floor or ceiling.

One way to handle this would be to somehow have trim top and bottom that hinges a bit to make clearance.

Another, somewhat oddball approach would be to have the door slide straight into the wall slightly, then either hinge away or slide to the side, leaving trim in four places intact (which will, unfortunately, create a trip hazard).

A way to make it hinge outward would be to effectively move the hinge pivot about 6" to one side of the door (obviously requires special hinges, perhaps from a blacksmith or machine shop, though some Blum hinges might come close). This would allow a piece of paneling, complete with side trim, to swing forward without interference. Top and bottom trim is still a problem, though.

Has she explained why it has to be the full height? That's really a killer requirement, due to the clearance problems.

If all she's looking for is a seamless appearance, as one might want for a door "hidden" in the paneled walls of a church alter area, the thing to do is to have a dark-painted recess at the top and bottom of the entire wall, and also have dark recesses at the joints between the panels.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #96931, reply #27 of 72)

Actually, from pictures I've seen, the White House has some doors like you describe.  Once you figure out how to build one, figure out how to build one into the wall of an oval shaped room! 


Some movie I saw showed someone trying to figure out how to leave the Oval Office gracefully, since the door (nearly) disappears when closed.

(post #96931, reply #28 of 72)

Bela Lugosi had a secret door in his house.  It was the swinging bookshelf type, about 6 - 7 ft. wide, and rotated around a center pole of, IIRC, 2" pipe.  The large width made it less obviously a door, and made it possible to rotate around the center for balance.  I saw it once in the 1970's, shortly before the house was demoed to make way for a freeway offramp.  BTW, the only offramp in the freeway system that has a vampire's curse on it.  ;-)


 


-- J.S.


 

 

 

-- J.S.

 

(post #96931, reply #29 of 72)

Yeah, lots of the hidden doors behind bookcases in old movies rotated around a center axis. This may have been a case of art immitating life, with butler's doors and the like in old houses working that way.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #96931, reply #30 of 72)

you didn't say it had to "hinge" if you pivot it in the center it can "turn", if you have the room to make this happen... as far as for this idea  or any of the others what i've found that makes great extra heavy duty "hinges/pivots" are auto/trailer hub & axles... front wheel drive cars have the whole bearing hub axle that can be adapted... or a basic trailer axle stub, hub & bearing set up will swing a 1000lb door with all but zero effort if you sink the hub in the floor and line up your upper pivot point dead on center with it......


pony

(post #96931, reply #33 of 72)

Called a jib door...

(post #96931, reply #34 of 72)

Do you know where that term comes from?  I love learning new words....

 

 

(post #96931, reply #35 of 72)

Here's a site that specializes in hidden doors.


www.hiddendoors.com


Be sure not to go to hiddendoor.com


 


You get out of life what you put into it......minus taxes.


Marv

You get out of life what you put into it......minus taxes.

Marv

(post #96931, reply #37 of 72)

Hey this "Jib Door".  THat's the name for what I'm trying to do here? 


David

(post #96931, reply #44 of 72)

Yup.  Jib door is the proper term for a door that's made flush with the wall to disquise it.  I have no idea what the etymology is. 


You see jib doors a lot in Palladian and Georgian architecture--usually to maintain the visual order of a room by obscuring a door that would otherwise disrupt the symmetry of a room, or to conceal a servant's passage.  The Oval Office has at least one jib door.

(post #96931, reply #41 of 72)

Came across a door at a home & garden show.  It didn't fit flush on both sides but had an interesting hardware system.  I went digging through all the stuff I save and found SpaceXDoors.  This was a number of years ago but then they had a website of www.spacexdoors.com  It is (or was) a division of Infinity Products, 15467 E. Hinsdale Circle, Englewood, CO 80112.  303-699-5763 or 1-888-858-2088. 


It was supposed to provide functional space where a door was needed.  The brochure lists many uses including "Secret Passages", and "Hidden Room Doors". It had both a surface mount and a custom recessed mount.  It could lock.  They took special orders.  It had a smooth gliding heavy duty roller mechanism with SS track and could easily carry 300 lbs.  I think they were made in Utah.  They were not cheap. It works like a bifold. 


My neighbor made a single solid door that looked like a bookcase.  He bought all kinds of bound books at garage sales and cut most of the book off on a radial saw.  The books were set so the bindings were not all even and glued in place.  Really cut down on the weight.  Try the website--my stuff is dated.    Tyr


 

Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.... Roman Poet Phaedrus 15BC–50AD

(post #96931, reply #49 of 72)

tried to make a flush drywall door once...tell the client fugged about it.....if they're not smart enough to realize that it'll never work right w/out some kind of trim or panel detail to make it "blend", then you'll never make'm happy....just IMHO....

(post #96931, reply #52 of 72)

I agree that it cant be totally invisable, but thats what he said the client wanted. One thought though, perhaps a whit silicone fliper seal could be attatched to the edges of the door so you dont see a dark shadow line.

(post #96931, reply #53 of 72)

I did this for a small bar in a conference room years ago.  However only one side had to be hidden.  The wall was bookmatched 1/4 cherry veneer plywood. I laid the door out to line up with the edges of the veneer flitches and cut the plywood very carefully with a utility knife.  I glued the plywood to a hollow core door cut to size and used Soss hinges to hang it. I left a 1/4" reveal top and bottom along the entire length of the wall.  I painted the wall at the reveal black to create a shadow line, top and bottom, before applying the paneling.  Worked like a charm.  You really had to look closely to see the joints.  I've noticed over the years that most people are not very observant and unless they know something exists they won't expect anything out of the ordinary is there. 


Doing this on both sides would raise the degree of difficulty considerably.  Good Luck!  I don't think I could do this now as it's been years and my eyes aren't what they used to was.


Happy Holidays