Hidden-Pivot Bookcase Door

Here are detailed drawings for a nifty swinging-bookcase hidden door. October 12, 2006

Reprinted with permission from Gary Katz Online, a comprehensive educational community devoted to trim carpentry, finish carpentry, and architectural millwork, and hosted by nationally recognized author and finish carpentry specialist Gary M. Katz.

I drew this detail of a hidden bookcase door swung on a Rixson pivot hinge. It works easily. I was asked to show 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. I was also asked how a swing-in book case might work, and whether an offset Rixson hinge would work. Those drawings are included at the bottom of the page.


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Front view


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Casing opening a little more


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Casing clears flanking case, but not by much


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Bottom view with case swung to 90


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Strike side viewed from top


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Strike side, viewed from top and opening out.


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Plan View, with hardware layout and trim dimensions on hinge side.


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Plan View: Strike side with clearance dimensions.


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Strike side requires 1 3/8 in. clearance


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The hardware in the example above is a Rixson Center Hung Pivot. 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).

Swing In Bookcase on Center Hung Pivot


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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.


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The step in the 'jamb' case would have to be about 1 1/4 in.


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And no matter where the center hung pivot is located, the hinge side would hit its flanking case, too.


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Not by much, but enough to require a step in the construction of that box, too.

Swing-in Bookcase on Offset Pivot Hinge


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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.


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But the strike side would still hit.


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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).

Reprinted with permission from Gary Katz Online, a comprehensive educational community devoted to trim carpentry, finish carpentry, and architectural millwork, and hosted by nationally recognized author and finish carpentry specialist Gary M. Katz.