Pocket Doors for Furniture

An explanation of custom-built pin-and-groove "flipper" pocket doors. May 7, 2007

I'm building some furniture for a nice cottage. Both the desk area and entertainment center could use pocket doors. Space is tight, and my door styles are only 1 1/2" wide, so using a standard kit like Blum 123 will not work. I remember while doing an install once I saw an entertainment center where the builder had used something simpler, like a wooden follower strip that rode in a groove and butt hinges, or maybe it was euro hinges. I can get 26mm euro hinges that will fit the door styles, but they're not made to fit the standard kits, and the kits take up too much room in an already tight situation. The doors I'll be pocketing are small and made of w. pine, and won't get used often, so I don't need a Mercedes, just an old jitterbug will do. What other ways are there to do the pocket/flipper door without the kits? I'm not trying to cheap out here - there really isn't the room to use the kit.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
Two pins at the top and two at the bottom of each door, riding in routed 90 degree slots, is the simple way to make flipper doors. It can be classed up or made more durable with metal lined slots, bearing shod pins, etc.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I'm trying to picture how this works. Do the door rails take the short cut as the pins ride the groove when turning the corner?

From contributor D:
One set of pins - top and bottom - are at/near the outside edge of the door, and ride in the groove running from front to back in the two horizontal panels forming the top and bottom of the box. The other two pins are maybe about 2/3 down the rail towards the center, and ride in the groove parallel to the front of the cabinet. The two grooves meet at the front outside corner. As the door is opened, the rails cut the corner somewhat - the corner pins slide straight back and the rail pins slide sideways to the corner, turn 90 degrees, then slide back. This is the drawback for some installations since it cuts the corner off the opening, so to speak.

You can mock things up in about 15 minutes, and by moving the pins around you will see how their placement affects the geometry and action. Just groove out two pieces of 3/4 panel and drill 1/4" holes into the two edges of the door in several locations. You will see very quickly how things work.

We use these for near zero clearance hidden panels - mostly horizontally acting - used to cover speakers or whatever. If you know where to push, the panel comes up and out right into your hand, and is a very cool operation.

From the original questioner:
Thanks again. Good description. I'll give it a try.

From contributor R:
You might want to look at a raised panel look invisible tambour door. They take 5/8 strips and rout in the raised panel profile. The tambour strips are butted together and will only roll up one way. Seams are nearly invisible when closed.