Introduction: False Bottom Secret Compartment

Picture of False Bottom Secret Compartment

Secret compartments are extremely useful (and awesome!). If you're a deep-cover government agent trying to keep important documents out of the hands of sinister enemy agents or just a kid trying to keep their cash out of a greedy sibling's hands, you have probably wanted a secret stash spot at some point. I'm not a secret agent risking it all to save the world (yet), but I do like to have a place to hide my stuff. I was drawn towards building a false bottom because of the obvious advantages; they are
A) simple: no fancy electronic locks required
B) easily adjustable: you can change the depth of the compartment to suit your needs, or remove it altogether
C) easily made without major structural modifications: I'd love to have a secret wall compartment, but my mom would kill me if I cut a hole in the wall, and
D) they are just plain cool.
Now lets get to work!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Secret Doors and Compartments Contest!

Step 1: What You Need:

Picture of What You Need:

- 1/8" drill bit
- Drill
- Wood glue
- Sandpaper around 80 grit
- Metal rod or bar, 1/8" in diameter or less
- Tape measure
- Four objects identical in size, preferably under and inch high; these will be used to support the false bottom, and the shorter they are the less noticeable the secret compartment will be. I used four identical corks, but you can really use anything; Lego bricks, bottle caps, erasers, it doesn't matter as long as they are the same.
- Hacksaw
- 1/4" thick plywood
- Old t-shirt (optional)

Step 2: Making the Bottom

Picture of Making the Bottom

- First, find out the dimensions of your drawer. Mine measured 14 11/16" x 14 3/8".
- Go to your nearest hardware store and find a sheet of 1/4" plywood that looks like the bottom of your drawer. Most hardware stores will cut wood to custom sizes, so ask them to cut a piece of plywood the dimensions of your drawer for you. They have extremely accurate equipment which makes nice straight edges, so it is a lot easier to have them do it.
- Test the piece of plywood to see if it fits into your drawer, but do not let it fall to the bottom and don't drop it straight down! I did that, and it was a HUGE hassle to get the piece out of the drawer. Let one edge of it rest above the top of the drawer (see picture 5). Test to make sure both length and width are correct. If it fits snugly but can still be removed again without too much effort, disregard the next few points. If not, read on!

If the Piece Doesn't Fit

- This isn't a big deal, it just means a little more work.
- Use the sandpaper to remove about 1/32" from the length and width of the piece, then test again. If it still doesn't fit, repeat this step until the plywood fits snugly but can still be removed.

Step 3: Supporting the False Bottom

Picture of Supporting the False Bottom

- Get your four identical objects that you are using as supports. You want them to be less than an inch high, or the compartment won't be as well hidden (a 10 inch deep drawer with a 9 1/2 inch depth is less suspicious than a 10 inch deep drawer with a 8 inch depth).
- Glue the four supports into the corners of the drawer.

Step 4: The Opening "Mechanism"

Picture of The Opening "Mechanism"

- Flip the drawer over and drill a hole about halfway between where two supports would be on the other side. Flip it back over and check the position of the hole.
- Cut a 6" piece off your metal bar or rod. Bend it at a 90 degree angle about an inch from the end, making a sort of hook.

Step 5: How to Open the Compartment

Picture of How to Open the Compartment

- Flip the drawer over. Insert the straight end of your hook into the hole you drilled and push. One edge of the false bottom will now be raised up.
- Rest the drawer on its side with the raised edge of the false bottom pointing up.
- Use the bent end of the hook to pull the raised edge out further until you can easily grip the false bottom, then pull it out.
- Fill up the compartment or remove what you need, then drop the bottom back into place.

*Ironinspired suggested lining the drawer with some sort of fabric to prevent rattling. I thought that was a great idea, so I did this:

- Cut/fold an old t-shirt to the shape of the bottom of your drawer.
- Cover the bottom of the drawer with the t-shirt. Make sure that the t-shirt isn't covering the supports.
- Fill up the compartment then drop the bottom back into place.


loony1 (author)2016-04-15

If you offset two of the pieces (same side) by an inch or so, you have just created a rudimentary hinge; press down on the side that is not supported and the opposing side will pop up.
Great project, I've already created six of these. Thanks for sharing your idea!

M3G (author)loony12016-04-15

That's such a good idea, thank you!

shannonlove (author)2016-04-28

All these projects in this collection are nifty but... how can I put this... don't expect them to hide anything from...uhm... professional searchers, the type with warrants. They have entire binders full of examples of hiding places that they've found over the last, oh, 500 years (if we include customs officials.) Also be aware that if they find one secret hiding place, they'll assume there must be others.

If you're just trying to keep someone out of your hardcopy diary (do people still keep those?) or are trying to make casual theives burn time, its fine.

Quester-59 (author)2016-04-19

These days, the need to hide things In Plan Sight, is becoming the Normal thing to do, so Offering your 21 Idea are a welcome sight, maybe we should hold an on-line contest for more ideas.

Something too think about.

GodblessAmerica (author)2016-04-15

So now all the thieves know just where to look!!

J.R.F (author)2016-04-12

Very good. I would put some kind of carpet so objects dont slide and make funny noise when there is supposed to be nothing there.

ggallen103 (author)2016-04-12

I use this technique in my car. I take an advertising postcard and cut it to the shape of my console area where I would throw loose change and such. I just make sure to put the change under the postcard - and anything else on the postcard. At first glance it just looks like junk in the console, no spare change to break into the car for. I've actually had someone go through the car, and never took any of the change - and there was about $10.00 in quarters. Of course I had an old stock radio as well - so that was no interest to anyone either.

M3G (author)ggallen1032016-04-12

That's an awesome idea, thanks for sharing!

The cloud 1808 (author)2016-03-29

smart now I can hide things from my mom like my electronics and car keys lol

The cloud 1808 (author)2016-03-29

smart now I can hide things from my mom like my electronics and car keys lol

Captain Teague 1978 (author)2015-05-06

Loved the idea of this nice work.I think that using a magnet to open the secret compartment would be better. Where did you source the wood for your project?

M3G (author)Captain Teague 19782015-05-06

I used the cheapest plywood I could find at Home Depot

armored bore (author)2014-12-11

Hey, nice! I made something almost exactly like this into a box for a beginner's woodworking class, except I didn't get the idea to use corks to prop up the bottom.

auntiemichal (author)2014-02-10

Nice instructable. Another, possibly better, way to use magnets would be to glue a biggish washer (or other flat object attractive to magnets) on the underside of the false panel and then use a strong magnet to lift it up. This way nothing will cling to strangely to the bottom of the drawer and electronics and magnetic strips won't be damaged. Just keep the key magnet someplace else, like on the refrigerator.

M3G (author)auntiemichal2014-02-10

That is a great idea! I like the idea of not having magnets attached to the false bottom; if metal objects were sticking to the bottom of the drawer I'm sure someone would get suspicious! I attempted to use magnets to lift up the bottom, but I didn't have powerful enough magnets.

experimentintackyness (author)2013-12-13

Another good Idea would be to buy a few very strong magnets and glue them in a corner of the false bottom. Using any substantial piece of metal the corner could be lifted up

I did that in my instructable, which was also entered. Really don't understand how this was better than mine.

srstreil (author)2013-12-26

Instead of attaching the back corks right at the back you could glue them a few inches closer to the front so that if you wanted to get in quick you just reach in the drawer and push at the back of the plywood to lever the front up enough to grab.

M3G (author)srstreil2013-12-27

Good idea, thanks!

patron_zero (author)2013-12-18

Nicely presented and most clever !

Don't forget a false panel can be attached beneath a drawer (such with side-runners a must !) by use of rare earth magnets if said drawer has a small 'recess' available.

PossibleFire (author)2013-12-16

Very nice!

M3G (author)PossibleFire2013-12-16

Thank you!

Allegrathegamer (author)2013-12-15

Add some combustible chemicals and a current and you have a false drawer like Light had in Death Note :)

I'v always wanted one of these...too bad I don't have a desk that has deep drawers like that.

M3G (author)Allegrathegamer2013-12-15

It's less secure, but a wooden box also works well.

glarive (author)2013-12-14

Did you get your inspiration from the first episode of son of archer?

M3G (author)glarive2013-12-14

I haven't seen the show, is one of these featured in it?

chanman (author)2013-12-13

This is so awesome!! I'm totally doing this. I don't have any thieving siblings, but this is just awesome. And it reminds me of the drawer in the anime Death Note which makes it even cooler to see in real life.

M3G (author)chanman2013-12-13

Thanks for the kind words!

marhar (author)2013-12-13

Great job, I'm gonna do this! And I love the suggestions in the comments!

blackweb (author)2013-12-13

This reminds me of when we were kids. There was a small drawer under the table and was pretty much always filled with unwanted food!!!!

M3G (author)blackweb2013-12-13

Haha that must have annoyed your parents!

hammer9876 (author)2013-12-12

Great job!

Another suggestion is to mount the two back corks about a third of the way towards the front. To remove the false bottom, just push down at the back. The panel will pivot on the back corks and the front will lift up.

To keep things from sliding around to much, try one of those rubber shelf liners.

M3G (author)hammer98762013-12-13

Those are great ideas, thanks!

billgeo (author)2013-12-12

No more, no less!

Also consider gluing a metal bar underneath the piece of wood so then you can lift it up
using a magnet (an old speaker magnet, or HDD neodymium magnets will do the trick)

M3G (author)billgeo2013-12-12

Thanks for the suggestions!

haugenka (author)2013-12-12

Great job! I hope your sneaky sibling doesn't like Instructables, though. I really like the magnetic knob as well as the felt idea in the comments. And if you're just trying to hide cash (or secret documents), you don't need the supports at all.

bob3030 (author)2013-12-11

Great job. This is something even a teenager could afford and might need. I had a thieving brother as you mentioned and could have used this as a teenager. Thanks for posting.

M3G (author)bob30302013-12-11

Thanks! A thieving sibling is one of the reasons I built this.

MimArt (author)2013-12-11

Great idea - couldn't a shorter metal pin stay in the hole in the real drawer bottom full time and just get pushed up by your finger when the drawer is open, instead of taking the drawer all the way out? Or, if you go with the magnets idea, glue a strong magnet to the underside of the disguising panel, and have another loose magnet, disguised as a toy or some lil thing just rolling around in the drawer? Then, only YOU know where to touch the toy magnet to the hidden magnet and lift the panel up enough to grab it. Does this make sense? hope so, you got my vote!

M3G (author)MimArt2013-12-11

Thanks for commenting! I like the magnets idea. Unfortunately, I couldn't leave a permanent pin since my drawer is part of a set, and the pin would get caught on the drawer below, but if your drawer is standalone that is a great idea!

iwtbarockstar (author)2013-12-10

Even though I can't make it that is still pretty cool

M3G (author)iwtbarockstar2013-12-11

It actually isn't that difficult.

M3G (author)iwtbarockstar2013-12-11


LordBenjamin (author)2013-12-10

Very cool, just a couple of suggestions. Line it with foam or felt, maybe? This would make it less detectable if you shake the drawer. Again, thieves would turn the drawer upside down and shake it, so why not add some magnetic catches to hold the bottom in when the drawer is empty? Do this, and you have my vote! Excellent idea, though.

M3G (author)LordBenjamin2013-12-10

Those are very good ideas, thanks for commenting!

knexlad243 (author)2013-12-10

really good idea :D

M3G (author)knexlad2432013-12-10

Thank you!

mikeasaurus (author)2013-12-09

That's pretty clever

M3G (author)mikeasaurus2013-12-09

Thank you!

nathconley (author)2013-12-09

That's a really good idea! I'm gonna have to try this!

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