When an intruder enters your home, what do they go for? Those expensive phones and tablets laying on the table? The overflowing jewellery box on the dresser? Or those 5-year old, mass-produced, $20 wooden chairs sitting at the dining table? Well, I can tell you which they wouldn't go for.
Secret compartments have been around since the dawn of mankind (probably not), and they're there for one specific reason; to hide something (or someone?) that you don't want to be found out of plain sight, and to make it difficult for any prying eyes to spot. This hidden chair compartment does exactly that. With the hinged seat cushion able to lift up to reveal an empty, cushioned area underneath where you can hide any valuables, it creates a place where you can be sure nobody is bound to look. The hinges for the seat cushion are placed at the front of the chair, so as to avoid any accidental discovery of the compartment if somebody were to pick up the seat from the front.
The compartment can be used to hide valuables such as jewellery or electronics, or even simply as extra storage space. This idea could be utilised in areas such as craft rooms where you can store different materials and tools that you don't need as often. You could even leave it at the dining table and store things such as the fancy cutlery only used on special occasions, provided you make the base extra strong. Or if you're the over-protective type, fit an insert and place your dual revolvers side by side, right under yourself whilst you're eating.
I hope you enjoy this Instructable, but remember, every chair is different and these instructions are to be taken as guidelines and inspiration should you ever want to create your own version. Thanks for viewing!
If you're interested in more secret compartments, check out this Instructable I posted nearly 2 years ago: www.instructables.com/id/Hidden-Drawer-Compartment/
Step 1: Remove the Cushion
When selecting the chair to use, you need to ensure that the support beams around the bottom of the base are of sufficient depth to allow a decent amount of space inside the compartment, as you can see in Picture 2.
The cushion on my chair was simply held in place with 3 'L' brackets, which I simply unscrewed. I decided to use these brackets later, as you will see, as I liked the look of them. Plus, why would i let them go to waste?! So after unscrewing the L brackets, the cushion came right off, as in Picture 7,
Step 2: Hinging the Cushion
In the spirit of reusing, I scavenged these hinges from an old set of French doors, but really any hinges would work. If I was to buy the hinges, I would get a piano hinge.
I started by replacing the seat cushion and marking out on the base of it where the support beam that I was going to attach my hinges was. I should've done this before removing the cushion, but that was just poor planning. After that, I lined up with hinges an equal distance from each edge, ensuring that they had enough space between their edges and the legs of the chair and screwed them in place.
Note: The hinges for the seat cushion are placed at the front of the chair, so as to avoid any accidental discovery of the compartment if somebody were to pick up the seat from the front.
Step 3: Creating the Compartment Base
I decided to make my base offset from the back of the chair by about 50mm as there was a slight gap at the back of my chair. I created the base using a small piece of chipboard cut just slightly oversize of the inside edge of the chair. Then, hollding it on the base, I drew around the inside profile onto the chipboard.
Off to the bandsaw! I then cut out around the shape on the bandsaw and files the edges. If you've used nicer wood than chipboard, it may look ok how it is, but I decided to add some black felt to by base, which is a good idea if you're going to be putting valuable things in it. It also helps to reduce things sliding around if the chair were to be moved. I attached the felt using spray glue and cut it to size.
Step 4: Base Support Beams
I wanted minimal space wasted in my compartment, and this is where I ended up using those 'L' brackets I got earlier.
I started by cutting a small piece of wood as the main support beam, and cut it to the width of the inside profile. I simply attached this piece to the base with screws through the back. In the 2nd picture, I showed 3 brackets, but only ended up using 2 of them on this side. Since the chipboard wasnt very thick, i drilled 2 holes and using M4 nuts and bolts to secure the brackets to the base.
Step 5: Painting!
The inside compartment didn't look very nice with all the odd bits of wood and brackets there, so its off to the paint shop (my back garden) to do some blending in!
I just used some cheap matt black spray paint for this. I sprayed the wooden support beam, as wellas the 2 'L' brackets, to make them as inconspicuous as possible. I then sprayed the inside edges of the chair's support beams where the compartment would be, as seen in Picture 4. At first this was as far as the painting would go, but I realised that the base of the cushion looked super ugly when it was lifted up, so I painted that too.
Originally, I was going to screw the wooden support beam through the sides of the chairs with a countersunk hole, however I realised that this could give away the fact that there have been modifications made to the chair, so I instead opted simply for 2 more 'L' brackets, which I also painted black (Picture 7).
Step 6: Putting It Together!
This is all quite simple, really, and there isn't much to say on this step. I screwed each of the brackets into the support beams on the chair, using a spirit level to ensure it was flat. Then I re-screwed the cushion onto the hinges.
I hope you enjoyed reading this Instructable, thanks for reading!