Moving book case

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Forum topic by GeneL posted 04-18-2010 07:25 PM 1197 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GeneL's profile


15 posts in 2940 days

04-18-2010 07:25 PM

I am about to start on my next project and could use a little advise.

The project is a moving bookcase. Specifically it will sit in front of the door way to a closet and move side to side to open the closet. It will be moved by a linear motor. The motor has a lift rating of 140 lbs, so with the book case rolling, weight should not be too much of an issue. (We don’t actually plan on putting much weight in it, it will be used for display more than books.)

Still the bookcase will take quite a bit of force as it is opened; plus the force will have a tendency to twist the book case because it is applied from behind and outside of the bookcase.

So my first concern is that the joinery be able to take these forces everyday for many years. I have never built a piece of furniture that moves.

My second concern is what wood to use. Obviously it needs to be strong, but I am trying to match the color and grain of other wood in the room (which is all pine stained with Minwax’s Golden Pecan). If you look at my blog entry about the cabinet I just finished. You can see the color and look:

I had thought about using oak instead of pine for this but I am afraid it will not look too much like the other wood. I also thought about using aspen because it is very light and should stain out about the same, but I just don’t know about the strength.

I had planned to use plywood for the sides of the case, does anyone think that solid wood would be a better choice?

Here are some drawing of the planned book case:

First the book case itself

The book case

Here it is closed in front of the closet.

The book case closed in front of the door

Here it is opened

The book case opened

4 replies so far

View Brandon Hintz's profile

Brandon Hintz

53 posts in 2976 days

#1 posted 04-19-2010 12:02 AM

Have you considered pocket screw joinery this will give you both a strong adhesive joint and a strong mechanical one. if you are concerned about the staincolor you could take a piece of pine and cut it into 1/8” or thinner pieces and veneer them to plywood for increased strength and stability If its going to be a stile & rail design I would recommend reinforcing the back of the side panels with a piece of 1/8” or 1/4” luan as this will help with racking and prevent buckling under load. Just some ideas, good luck.

-- Potential is limited only by imagination

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3783 days

#2 posted 04-19-2010 02:06 AM

I’ve done several hidden door bookcases. Have fun. The trick is making look like it isn’t hiding anything.

You’ll have track marks unless you’re on hardwood flooring. And even then it will wear. Making it sit against the wall while still allowing it to slide will be a trick. Particularly down by the base moulding.

Short of building it like a tank, there isn’t much to do about strength. It will always want to rack to a degree. It will want to drag on something, whether it’s the wall (making scrape marks) or floor or whatever.
Definitely a challenge, though.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View GeneL's profile


15 posts in 2940 days

#3 posted 04-19-2010 05:19 AM

@Brandon Hintz

I had not considered pocket screws. I will give that some consideration. I have never done any veneer, so that may be a bit much to add to an already challenging project. My initial plan was to build the sides from plywood with decorative molding to hide the edges. I was just going to use rabbet and dado joints for the shelves with some screws in the bottom to and center shelves hidden by the trim.


It’s good to hear from someone that has done this.

The bookcase will be borne by four wheels with soft rubber tires. The leading two (left side in the drawing) are closer together than the back two. The back two are 3/8 inch lower than the front two. You can see in the third drawing there are tracks cut into the floor these are 3/8 inch deep to hold the back two wheels. These are completely covered when the bookcase is closed.

I have prototyped the carriage (the motor is installed) and bearing my weigh (about 200 lbs) it tracked true. The floor is purple heart and has a alumina finish, but I am concerned about marking up the floor.

This just hides a closet, it is more for fun and show than it is to really hide anything. Still I don’t want it the tear up the floor or wall. So I will keep an eye open the first few operations for dragging.

View tblank's profile


61 posts in 2937 days

#4 posted 04-20-2010 06:49 PM

Can’t you use non-marking urethane wheels for the bottom?

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