That Hole in the Floor #1: The Trap door framing and mechanism

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 10-20-2014 09:52 PM 6209 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of That Hole in the Floor series Part 2: The cellar trap door, it works! »

I’ve remodeled the entire house. Always a work in progress but mostly done. Ripped out walls, replaced paneling with sheetrock/paint, replaced carpets with hardwood floors, I made new kitchen cabinets, all moldings… etc. I’ve blogged most of it as I went along.

The hole in the ground:
We have a cellar that takes up about half the floor area of the house. The rest is a slab. It is a washroom, storage, houses the hot water tank, pump tank, etc. It’s finished off pretty nice, tiled floor, malemine wallboard and good lighting but it’s not used much. With just the wife and I these days, we need to access it about once a week to get down to wash the clothes.

I was going to make a pretty staircase railing out of cherry and maple then got to thinking. That floor space (which is in short supply in this retirement cottage by the lake) is wasted as just a hole in the ground with a railing around it. A rail would look nice but would be a waste. Hence the trap door.

I started out by thinking of a motorized unit would be a good idea. I actually made one with a geared down motor from a lincoln. It’s used to move the seat back and forth. I devised a worm gear and screw with pillow blocks and actually got it to work…. slowly but it worked. Look closely and you can see it (disconnected) at the far end of the door opening).

I decided that a hydraulic piston would assist it. I looked at the hatch lift one on my chevy tahoe and ordered one just like it. When I put it on I found that it made the hatch light as a feather both closing and opening. You can lift it with one finger…. well maybe two fingers. In the end I’m going to remove the mechanism and just use the piston lift.

The thing is made with U shaped channel surrounded by angle iron. It has a full stainless piano hinge and sits both hinge side and the opposite side on an angle iron bolted to the walls. You can see one of them here. It also has an oak board under the angle for added strength. It will be covered with the same oak flooring that is on the rest of the floor. When closed it will show as a door but will blend in nicely.

Made possible by the fact that I’m from a family of welders. Something we learned at an early age. Comes in mighty handy at times.
The channel is 12” on center. I tested it by placing it on two horses and jumping up and down on it. Should be fine if a couple of people walk over it together I’d think.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

2 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35056 posts in 4037 days

#1 posted 10-20-2014 09:59 PM

Very nice modification

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View richmeijer's profile


1 post in 1 day

#2 posted 05-27-2017 03:15 PM


Nice Work!!!

My brother and I want to do this as a gift for our Father – can you give me an idea of pricing, and the best place to get materials?



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