DIY Weekend Project: Secret Hollow Book / Incognito Stash Box
A hollow book can be a nifty way to hide something, whether it's a spare key, a secret note, or even money. Most people wouldn't think to browse your library for private or personal things. It's also a great way to pass something to someone discreetly!
A hollow book can be a nifty way to hide something, whether it’s a spare key, a secret note, or even money. Most people wouldn’t think to browse your library for private or personal things. It’s also a great way to pass something to someone discreetly!
In fact, as demonstrated in this Titan ad, Secret Hollow Books make for a unique gift box.
Things You’ll Need
- Hardcover book
- White glue (Ask for a Mod Podge alternative at any Hobby Ideas store)
- Tap water
- Container to hold glue solution
- Brush to apply glue solution
- Rag to wipe any spills
- Plastic food wrap
- X-acto knife, or box cutter
- Pencil or pen
- Something heavy to apply pressure
- Drill with small drill bit
1. Select a book, preferably a thick one with a sturdy hard cover.
2. Select the first few pages that you want to have free at the end of the project (plus one more) and hold them to the front cover with plastic food wrap so they do not get messed up with the glue. These pages, except for the last one, will not be cut out. This will allow the book to look like a book when it is opened up and will cover the hole itself.
3. Mix a solution of white glue and water. Make the consistency just enough for the glue to be runny, and more easily absorbed by the edge of the book’s pages. 50% to 70% glue (30% to 50% water) or half a 35mm film canister full usually works well but use your judgment, given the thickness and size of the book. Alternatively, try a craft glue like Mod Podge.
4. Now that you have the top cover and the first couple of pages wrapped in food wrap, brush the three edges of the book with the glue solution so that it is reasonably absorbed. This will hold the book’s pages together. Remember: clean the brush off immediately, or else it will harden and become useless for step 9.
5. Place something heavy on top of the book so as to apply pressure. Let the book dry for fifteen to thirty minutes.
6. Open the book to reveal the first glued page. Draw a half-inch (1.2 cm) border within the edge, on all four sides (including the spine). Drill a hole in each corner of the newly drawn box to the depth you wish the hidden compartment to be. (The drilling part is optional. It makes cutting out the pages easier because the blade does not have to make a 90 degree turn.) You may leave a few of the glued bottom pages uncut.
7. Cut along the inside of the drawn line with a straight edge knife (a box cutter works especially well). Try to make the cut as vertical as possible, or else try to tilt it so the hole will narrow as you go down. Using a ruler, as shown in the image, can help a lot. Apply enough pressure to cut a few pages at a time. A metal ruler is advisable.
8. Continue cutting through the layers. Do not rush this step, because the slower and more carefully you do this, the smoother and straighter the inside edges will be. Remove the bits of paper from the inside that accumulate from the cutting.
9. Brush the glue solution onto the inside edges of the hole and allow it to soak in. The glue dries clear, so don’t be concerned if it drips a little. While waiting, apply a second coat of glue to the outside edges of the pages.
10. Brush the “frame” of the hole with a light coat of glue. The saved page will be glued directly on top of the hole, essentially covering it (for now).
11. Close the book again, this time without any spacers. Allow it to dry for about 15-30 minutes. In this drying phase, the saved page will become affixed to the hole, as mentioned in the previous step.
12. Cut the saved page neatly along the edges of the hole so that the hole is visible and accessible once again. The insides of the book may still be moist because the book had been closed while drying. Now is a good time to let the book dry while it’s open.
13. Check to make sure every part of the book is thoroughly dry. Touch it with your fingers, and when you are certain it is dry, fill it with your treasured items, shut the book, and put it in the bookshelf. Only you will know that this book has a secret compartment!
- A book press centers and distributes weight evenly and will give your book a stronger structure and form. You’ll want to make sure that you can provide an equal weight distribution, heavy enough to press a book’s pages tight and dense on a microscopic level.
- Make sure you only use a hardcover book. If the cover is soft, you will end up cutting through the back of the book. If you’re careful though, you could use a softcover or even a paperback book.
- If you ask, “What is the purpose of saving the last page to glue on top, and then cutting through it just like the others?” It’s to cover up the lines you initially drew to cut out the compartment in the book. It also allows the book to be fully closed, compressing the pages while the inside dries. This is important so the book will close properly when it is finished.
- Use a metal ruler (or a wooden ruler with a metal-edge insert) to guide your knife. The illustration pictures a plastic ruler, but the knife can easily bite into plastic (or wood), messing up both the ruler and the project.
- A Dremel tool makes quick work of 30-40 pages at a time, and sometimes the heat of the cutting disk burns the inside edges, leaving smooth brown lines on the inside. (See Warnings)
- You may be able to get free old books from libraries that are clearing out the archives. But don’t use a book from your family’s library – it might be a valuable antique, and someone could start looking for it.
- Drill a hole in the bottom of the book to run a cable into the book to make a hidden phone charging station (shown below). Apply a little glue inside the hole to seal the pages.
- Don’t carry it around with you every day. It looks suspicious if you keep peeking into it.
- If the hole you have cut is a little too small, you can sand the edges, but it will leave a slightly furry feeling depending on the paper.
- If you are using a paperback, put a hard surface that you cannot cut through easily between the back and the last page.
- Before you begin, plan out the size of the hole, so that it won’t turn out to be too small for the object/s you want to store.
- When choosing a book, make sure it is not a book that you care about and that someone will want to read again. Also, make sure that it is not a book anyone else might ask to look at, because it will be hard to come up with an excuse as to why you won’t let them read it.
- Hollow books are not effective against law enforcement.
- Try adding a closing mechanism to keep your book closed like a magnet, belt buckle, or button. Otherwise everything that you place inside will just fall out!
- Although the Dremel tool cuts quickly, you may accidentally cut through the back of the book. Also be advised that it will burn the pages, and the smoke may smell bad, depending on the type of paper the book is made from. The depth of the cut is also limited to the radius of the cutting wheel. You will need to remove pages between cuts to go deeper.
- Cutting an old book can contain many old, foreign, possibly harmful contaminates found within dust. The dust particles can sit for many years, contain bacteria, and chemicals. Depending on your method of cutting, you may find a little to maximum of dust in the air. It is recommended that you cut in a well ventilated area, use of an air vacuum with a HEPA filter is preferable, and most importantly you use a dust mask that can filter out the breathing of such dust particles. Eye glasses can also be used to prevent dust from getting into the eyes, and protect from particles (ie: small rock, tiny metal particles from an old rusty pipe) that can shoot out from underneath a blade into the eye. Especially if using motorized tools, such as a Dremel. Dust will fill the air, so close all doors, to minimize the spreading of such dust particles.
- Burning paper often contains dioxins, which are a potent carcinogen: Make sure you ventilate the room, perhaps blowing a fan across the book as you work to keep the dangerous fumes from your face.