A comprehensive educational community devoted to trim carpentry, finish carpentry and architectural millwork. Hosted by nationally recognized author and finish carpentry specialist Gary M. Katz.
  hidden pivot bookcase door  
  In response to the thread below, from the Finish Carpentry Forum, I drew this detail of a hidden bookcase door swung on a Rixson pivot hinge. It works easily. You can also view an animated version here.
  RJ asked to see how the trim would work/look for a fluted-casing/rossette detail. I forgot to include the plinth blocks, but they'd be split, too. Next time I'll get them in there. These cases use the same layout as the animation. Those drawings with detailed measurements are now at the bottom of this page.  
  A nice thing about articles on the web...you can update them!John A. asked how a swing-in book case might work, and whether an offset Rixson hinge would work. Those drawings are also now included at the bottom of the page, before the thread begins.  
  Front view
  Front view opening. Pivot case just clears head casing. If the bottom of the pivot door isn't swinging over a hard surface level floor, then a toe-kick should be added to the bottom of all the units and the case should pivot above the toe kick.  
  Looking close at the top head casing: Leave a 1/16-- 1/8 in. gap between the head casing and the top of all cases. Install a small 1/2 in. ogee nosing on all top shelves, but hold it down 1/16 in. everywhere, on flanking cases, too, so it will cover the head gap but not interfere with the swing.  
  Bottom View, case just beginning to open. Split in casing must be located precisely where bead meets fillet. I'd cut a test piece first, about six inches long, tack each side to the cases and open the door a few times...all the way.  
  Casing opening a little more  
  Casing clears flanking case, but not by much  
  Bottom view with case swung to 90°  
  Strike side viewed from top  
  Strike side, viewed from top & opening out.  
  Plan View, with hardware layout and trim dimensions on hinge side.  
  Plan View: Strike side with clearance dimensions.  
  Strike side requires 1 3/8 in. clearance  
  Rixson Catalogue & Installation Library (link to Rixson)

Rixson Pivot Hinges (pdf. download)

The hardware in the example above is a Center Hung Pivot. You can find the specs on these hinges at the site above or download a pdf catalogue. A Center Hung Pivot is the only type of pivot hinge which isn't visible. There are several grades of Center Pivots. I've used the Model #370 frequently for doors of many sizes. It's rated up to 500 lbs. But for a heavy bookcase, the H117-3/4 will support up to 1,000 lbs.Dorma also has a line of pivot hinges. Often they're less expensive than Rixson hinges. I've used several Dorma pivots, including the CP440 (440 lbs) and the CP 660 (660 lbs). Click here to download a pdf file on Dorma hinges.
  Swing In Bookcase on Center Hung Pivot  
  You can reposition the pivot but no matter where it's located, the strike side of the case is going to hit the other case, which requires a beveled or stepped construction.  
  The step in the 'jamb' case would have to be about 1 1/4 in.  
  And no matter where the center hung pivot is located, the hinge side would hit its flanking case, too.  
  Not by much, but enough to require a step in the construction of that box, too.  
  Swing-in Bookcase on Offset Pivot Hinge  
  The offset hinge would work even better on a swing-in case. The front hinge-side edge wouldn't hit the casing or trim on the front of the units. And the back would clear without cutting a bevel or step into the flanking case.  
  But the strike side would still hit.  
  The step in the strike-side flanking case would have to be about 1 1/4 in. (it actually measures 1 1/16 in. so 1 1/4 in. should clear for sure, but I'd mock up the hardware and check that before building the cases).  

JLC Thread

  Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
Mstef 5/5/04 10:51 p.m.

I want to build a set of book cases and I would like to use one as a door for a staircase but I can't find any hinges for it. I need something that will support the weight and open without being seen. I really need a good Hinges web-site that that has every type of hinge made. Hope someone can help. Thanks



Re: Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
T Moore 5/6/04 12:18 p.m.

M: As we've done this type of hidden doorway before, several problems exist that 'yer not perhaps addressing (sag weight on the latching side, swing weight, tracking and latching, ect ect).

As far as hinges go, try www.sugatsune.com for "hidden" hinges. They work really well for the purpose, but you haft'a know what and how to do with 'em.

T Moore
Active Door


Re: Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
phil 5/6/04 2:42 p.m.

I worked on one house that had a bookcase /slash door...
it was made out of a steel bar/pipe that ran from top to bottom with wheel bearings from a car this did not sag or wiggle while opening and closing with your finger

I wish I took pictures of it to share was quite amazing


Re: Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
Mstef 5/6/04 11:00 p.m.

Thanks Phil. That gave me what I needed. I'll start sketching. If it works I'll take some pictures. Thanks Again, Mark



Re: Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
jim@miterclamp.com 5/7/04 12:23 a.m.

Here's a link for you to check out.


Rixson Hinges


Re: Hinging a book case for a hidden door.
GACC Dallas 5/7/04 12:45 a.m.

The suggestions so far are all good ones I think. The steel pipe system with the bearings and such is by far the best method. The problem is the weight of all those books. That's a bunch of weight and will impact the mobility of this thing in a very large way.

We always make some sort of mock-up before we do this kind of thing. It'll save you heartbreak.

Remember - over-kill is not a bad thing for this kind of application. Mock-up, mock-up, mock-up. Be sure before you spend.

Rixson makes wonderful hinges. The knife hinge that Jim suggested I've used to carry heavy doors. But the knuckle of the hinge will be exposed. They also make a concealed pivot hinge that will handle a heavy door, but depending on just how much weight your considering and how wide and deep the cabinet will be, you might consider a wheel or wheels on the other side of the cabinet if you've got smooth floors.

Good luck,


  Supported by corporations who care about education in the construction industry.  
  Mastering FInish Carpentry DVDs