Custom Hidden Drawer Bookcase

How the Locking Mechanism was designed

The hidden drawer mechanism was designed by both myself and my friend Mike Prom. We came up with the original concept one evening when we had two too many cocktails out in the front porch.

I had heard about the desk in “National Treasure 2” from a customer a couple months earlier, but I hadn’t seen it.  After we started talking about it we watched it instantly on Netflix. We skipped to the scene in that movie and paused it several times to see if we could get anything useful out of it, we didn’t. I am pretty sure that Hollywood’s design doesn’t actually work in real life.

Mike sells high-end AutoCAD software to companies like Case and Caterpillar. He also does consulting for these companies, teaching them how to use the programs he sells. So in other words, he is very proficient. The mechanism was first conceptualized on paper, and then designed, using a program called Inventor.

cad hidden drawer mechanism

Mike was able to provide me with 3d drawings with dimensions of every piece of the mechanism.  Two of the linkages failed during the preliminary stages of construction, so we had to redesign them for a second time, and then again for the third and final time.  About 40hrs later, I had it working.  I shot a short “bootleg video” and put it on YouTube, and then posted it to FaceBook so Mike could see it in working condition.  One week later it had 8,000 views.

“Bootleg Video” posted to facebook:

How the Hidden Mechanical Locking Mechanism works

The hand-crafted custom bookcase requires you pull open each of the visible drawers, before a hidden control springs out and allows you to trigger the secret compartment built into what looks like a normal molding.

To make things more complex, each of the drawers must be pulled out to a certain point before the latches they control slide out of the way, similar to how the pins in a regular lock work.  That finally allows a length of wooden dowel to slide out – hidden, normally, as a knot in the wood itself – and when you twist it and then push it back in, a cable tracked around the back of the cabinet allows the hidden drawer to spring out.

Plans Now Available

Update: I have made the plans for the hidden drawer locking mechanism available for $8.99.

Hidden Mechanism

The Final Edited Video

With the help of Josh Van Patter, Chris VanKlei, and Justin Bullis, we brought the bookcase into the basement of the Northrup King building in NE Minneapolis.  The building was at one time used as a nuclear fall out shelter.

Chris and I took care of getting the bookcase delivered and set up, Josh did all the filming and video editing, and Justin took care of the lighting and photography.  Mike Prom did all of the 3D animations for the video.

custom bookcase

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