How to make doors for a bookcase

Make doors for a bookcase to cover the clutter or add a finished look to your room. Consider leaving the top shelf open for display while hiding the rest of the shelves. Cabinet doors should never exceed 36 inches wide. Cabinets less than 4 feet high will require one or two doors. Bookcases higher than 7 feet may need four doors.

Measure the front of the bookcase using a metal tape measure. Draw a sketch of the bookcase and include the width, height and sizes of the frame. Make a newspaper or cardboard template of the frame and the opening of the bookcase.

Determine the areas to be covered by doors. Full overlay European doors will cover the frame of the cabinet without hinges showing. Traditional doors have hinges that show and will cover only part of the frame. The door sizes will be determined by the type of doors to be installed.

Purchase doors from lumber mills, hardware stores, or a kitchen showroom. The stores will depend on your measurements, so take your template.

Make your own wooden doors using finish-grade plywood, solid-plank flooring material, or reclaimed lumber. Make a framed door with 1-by-3-inch wood sized to fit the opening. Add bead board, cork, laminate board, or Masonite as the back panel. Tie together the different types of wood with an antique or faux finish.

Upholster doors if your carpentry skills are not what they need to be. Have a lumberyard cut two pieces of plywood 1 inch smaller than you need to cover the opening. Use plywood that is 1/2 inch thick to make the doors stable and easier to upholster.

Cut upholstery fabric and padding 4 inches wider and longer than each door. Secure fabric and padding on the back side, across the front and around all four sides, creating a soft door. Glue fabric or wide grosgrain to the back of the door to cover the staples. Add at least two hinges per door and hang. Use magnetic catches to keep these doors closed.

Make lightweight fabric panel doors for bookcases using window screens. Buy two window screens that when paired together cover the bookcase.

Remove the screen carefully and save the rubber rope. Use a light to medium-weight fabric to replace the screen. Push the rubber rope and the fabric into the channel in the frame using a flathead screwdriver. Keep the fabric straight and tight. Attach piano hinges to the frame using small screws. Use magnetic catches to keep doors closed.

Buy a pair of stretched artist canvases to create original art covering a bookcase. Ready-made artist canvas is available from most art supply stores. Attach piano hinges to the frames and then to the bookcase. Customise the panels with your own art or leave them white.


Retrofit used doors whenever possible. Trim doors that are too large on the bottom and the hinge side. Make doors larger by adding wooden frames or mouldings. Sand, paint or stain the doors and the bookcase the same colour to tie together the different materials. Add additional embellishments to custom doors with brass tacks, decorative medallions, or antique handles. Use upholstery-padded doors in a child's room because the padding softens the close of the doors. Lightweight screen frame doors work well in a child's room, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. These window screen doors can be made to almost any size and add a completely custom look to the decor.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal tape measure
  • Newspaper
  • Hinges
  • Magnetic cabinet catches
  • 1-inch-by-3-inch wood
  • Paint or stain
  • Plywood
  • Cardboard
  • Screens
  • Fabric
  • Batting
  • Stapler
  • Hot glue gun
  • Artist canvas
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About the Author

Shirl Snyder began writing technology manuals in 1977. Her work appears on Web sites such as Green Jobs For Me, International Women's Festivals, The Artful Organizer and eHow. Along with certification as an interior designer, Snyder has a Bachelor of Science in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles.