How To DIY A Bookshelf With Hidden Storage For A Little Extra Flair

In a world where books and shelves have taken on distinctly digital, non-physical meanings, it's amazing how handy bookshelves are. Lego collections, pantry items, rows of screw bins, and even books can be stored on them. And in all of these cases, you'll have related things to store that don't work on bookshelves: loose Legos, non-can and non-box-shaped foods like packets of taco seasoning or yeast, and screws too big for your bins would all fit nicely in a drawer, so why not add drawers to your bookshelf? TikTokker and woodworker Shara (@woodhsopdiaries) shows you how to build a sturdy piece in which the drawers are attached to the individual shelves and are, in fact, disguised as the shelves themselves ... at least at first glance.

It's not a foolproof way to hide things, which @woodshopdiaries readily admits. You wouldn't want to hide valuables in drawers like these, and you absolutely mustn't secret away dangerous things like medicines, weapons, and cleaners here. These drawers are obvious on any but the most casual inspection. But it's a fun hiding spot and an even better storage spot, and if you don't need the intrigue, you can always add drawer pulls. As builds go, @woodshopdiaries' project is fairly simple and doesn't require much in the way of specialized tools. The one exception might be a pocket hole jig, which is helpful for joining the shelves to the sides securely without needing any cleats or other hardware that might interfere with the drawers.

How to build the bookshelf with hidden drawers

Shara includes printable building plans on her blog, Woodshop Diaries. Aside from the usual consumables like nails, screws, and wood finish, you'll basically need a few sheets of plywood, a handful of solid wood boards, drawer slides, and some molding for a finished look. @woodshopdiaries used ¾-inch birch plywood, but at current prices ($89.88 per sheet at Home Depot), the project can get expensive, so you might consider something like RevolutionPly's ¾-inch sanded whitewood plywood from Lowe's ($65.65) if you're looking for a painted finish (it's primed on one side).

The build process is straightforward. Break down the plywood according to @woodshopdiaries' plan and assemble the basic carcass (sides, back, top, bottom, and shelves) using pocket screws (some wood glue would also be a good idea). Staple the back on, then add the drawer slides per the directions for the model you buy; you'll just want to be sure to install them so that the drawer front is flush with the front edges of the bookshelf plywood. For more tips, check out TikTok's handy tip that makes installing cabinet drawers slides a breeze. Build the drawers from ¾-inch plywood and assemble using pocket screws. Screw the drawers to the slides and attach the drawer fronts by screwing them to the drawer box from the inside. Install trim and finish as you wish. Shara also advises that you attach the bookshelf to the wall since pulling out the drawers can upset the shelf's balance.

Tips for a more secret hidden drawer

One of the fun things about this project is disguising the drawers so you can keep your candy stash or your ridiculously expensive Lego Technic doodads out of the wrong hands (We're looking at you, little brother). What tends to give it away is the gap between the drawer components and the bookshelf carcass. Obviously, cutting and fitting the drawer components as tightly as possible will help disguise it well. But there are a few other things you can do to promote the illusion. Perhaps the best is to use the same ¾-inch plywood and pocket holes to make a bottom that covers as much as possible, rather than making the normal recessed bottoms that slide into a ¼-inch dado.

If you don't use the solid bottom idea, better drawer slides will tend to leave less of a gap between drawer and shelf sides. Using push-to-open slides also pulls the drawer tighter to the frame, leaving less of a gap, as will touch latches. You can also skip the slides altogether and build wood drawer runners ... basically, the drawer has a channel cut into its sides that rides on a strip of wood attached to the carcass sides. And it doesn't have to be a drawer at all; you can DIY a wooden shelf with a hinged food for secret hidden storage. If you're concerned with child-proofing, you can also add hidden locks as an easy way to make your home more kid-friendly.