Hidden/Secret Compartment in Wall Cabinet

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Project by RSmike posted 03-07-2012 01:25 PM 5748 views 10 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This cabinet is located in my 5’x5’ bathroom. The cabinet is pretty boring on the outside. It’s the surprise on the inside that most find cool. Inserting a shelf pin into the topmost rear hole runs a motor that raises a sliding panel. Insert the shelf pin into the next lowest pin position and the panel closes.

The whole lift mechanism is built into the wall. (Yeah yeah I know….I’ll be cutting into drywall from the opposite side when it breaks.) The power supply and control relays are in the basement.

I know, I’ve given the secret away. But it’s not what’s in the compartment….it’s the fact that it’s there. To date the compartment has remained empty.

The glass shelves are really nice. I’ve found that putting glass in the bottom of my bathroom cabinets, even under the sink, allows for easier clean up. Somehow it gives it also gives it some class. It also prevents cans and other items from ‘blocking’ into the topcoat.

The glass shelving also lets light through from above to the lower shelves which seems to keep the inside of the cabinet brighter.

The cabinet has two coats of latex primer, two coats of plain semi gloss white latex, and on top of all that are two coats of water based poly. This really seems to give the whole finish some depth.


-- Mike

16 comments so far

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Ben Simms

191 posts in 943 days

#1 posted 03-07-2012 01:35 PM

This is one of the coolest things i have ever seen!

-- I played with Legos as a kid and I never had the part I thought I needed, so I learned to improvise. Now I'm an engineer with a woodworking hobby.

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 993 days

#2 posted 03-07-2012 01:41 PM

Yeah, that is really cool. Thanks for sharing…now get this off the internet before the feds get wind of it!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View kaschimer's profile


89 posts in 1041 days

#3 posted 03-07-2012 02:11 PM

That’s wicked. I totally want to work on a project with hidden compartments.

-- Steve, Michigan - "Every piece of work is a self portrait of the person who accomplished it - autograph your work with excellence!" - Author unknown

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1142 posts in 1733 days

#4 posted 03-07-2012 03:18 PM

Really slick. Were are the limit switches and motor from? Surplus? Or leftovers?

-- Chris K

View Douwe's profile


62 posts in 937 days

#5 posted 03-07-2012 04:21 PM

This is great! Thanks for sharing this secret.

-- Douwe

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667 posts in 1007 days

#6 posted 03-07-2012 05:04 PM

I thought hard on what to say about this but in the end I’m going with my first thought: “COOL!”

That is so neat!

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View scottishbob's profile


144 posts in 939 days

#7 posted 03-07-2012 05:15 PM

bond ,james bond 007 … very neat

-- Ireland, Galway .... fingers! "we dont sell them"

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Mainiac Matt

3990 posts in 980 days

#8 posted 03-07-2012 06:17 PM

I like it a lot…

I can’t believe you used a ball nut and ball screw…

that’s pretty premium linear motion hardware for a pretty simple linear motion application.

If you ever get asked to do one for hire, an ACME lead screw and Derlin nut would accomplish the same end at 1/4 the cost. Maybe even better as the ball nut should be oiled after a few hundred cycles :^)

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

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Tim Dahn

1467 posts in 2216 days

#9 posted 03-08-2012 12:22 AM

You had me at Hidden/Secret but MOTORIZED too?

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View pitchnsplinters's profile


262 posts in 2089 days

#10 posted 03-08-2012 01:45 AM


-- Just 'cause a cat has kittens in the oven, it don't make 'em biscuits.

View KMT's profile


591 posts in 1314 days

#11 posted 03-08-2012 03:04 AM


-- - Martin

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253 posts in 984 days

#12 posted 03-08-2012 04:30 AM


-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

View lightweightladylefty's profile


2644 posts in 2364 days

#13 posted 03-08-2012 05:22 AM


You need to get to work on a hidden compartment big enough for a couple of people! What an incredible secret! Thanks for sharing. Well, I guess that means it’s no longer a secret.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Woodwrecker's profile (online now)


3602 posts in 2227 days

#14 posted 03-08-2012 05:33 AM

Definitely “Daily Top 3” worthy!
I’ve done hidden compartments, but never a motorized one…hmmm. lol

-- Having fun...Eric

View RSmike's profile


21 posts in 1341 days

#15 posted 03-08-2012 07:29 PM

Thank you for all the positive reports.

The parts are all surplus. I work in a large industrial facility as a controls engineer. The limit switches and prox switches were scrap parts from an industrial piece of equipment.

The whole thing works based upon two proximity switches that are recessed behind the ‘up’ and ‘down’ shelf pin supports. (I guess I forgot to mention that. ) These devices can sense metal. When a shelf pin is placed in the bottom hole the prox switch senses this and energizes a relay to drive the motor down. When the pin is placed in the top hole the prox sense this and drives the relay such that the motor moves up. The relays form a basic forward/reversing circuit electrically interlocked to prevent problems in case someone puts in both an ‘up’ and ‘down’ pin. The limit switches are there to stop the door once it opens or closes to the proper position.

The motor/ball screw assembly is scrapped from a product that we make. It’s a fairly high end considering the equipment I pulled it from was pretty consumer related. Probably why we don’t make that product any more. Even I was surprised to see such a fancy system inside something that looked so simple.

The system only operates if power to the light over the bathroom sink is turned on. I did this to prevent power from being constantly applied to the system. I didn’t like the idea of having wires and motors in my walls….even if they are low voltage.

I really need to put something of value in there. least for the next person to find.


-- Mike

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