Instructables

Multi-Book Secret Storage Compartment

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You are probably already familiar with the classic "Secret Book Compartment" project. On Instructables alone, you can find over 20 different variations of this project. The basic concept is simple. You hollow out a large book and you use the cutout space to hide stuff. Unfortunately, most versions of this project have one major problem. You can only hide objects that are smaller than your book. However it is possible to hide larger objects by combining multiple books into one large multi-book container.
 
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Step 1: Select a Set of Books

Picture of Select a Set of Books
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There is no specific kind of book that you need to use for this project. Just about any book can work. But here are some guidelines that may help.

1. The height and depth of the books are the important dimensions of the book. The size of the cover is what limits storage space. Since you are using multiple books, the thickness of each one doesn't matter. 
2. The books do not need to be the same size, but it is convenient if they are. Sets of reference books like encyclopedias work well because they are all the same and it is a reasonable excuse to have a bunch of large books all in one spot on the book shelf. 
3. Hardback books hold their shape better than paperbacks do after being cut up.
4. The secret compartment only remains a secret as long as no one tries to read any of the books. So it helps if the book are relatively uninteresting while still looking like something that you would have on your shelf. 
5. A good source for cheap books is community book sales. Many public libraries will have a large book sale 
 once a year. On the last day of these sales the remaining books are typically sold at a huge discount. You can often get a whole bag full of books for just a few dollars.
6. Get more books than you think that you will need. You must have one unaltered book on each side of your compartment, but I recommend having two or three so that if someone is messing with books on the shelf and a few fall over, it doesn't reveal your hidden compartment.
sjsquirrel10 months ago
Great Instructable, and a nice variation on the theme. Thanks for sharing it.

I have to say that I too loved that book series and think it's a crime to destroy it, but in more practical terms, if I was browsing your book shelf those would be among the first I'd want to pull out and flip through, thereby quickly discovering your hiding spot and making it useless.

So, for anyone else that might make one of these keep that in mind. A random selection of suitably sized, and uninteresting books might make a better hiding place than a fascinating collection of really interesting books.

I agree with all these points. Another thing to consider is putting your safe up high, down low, or behind/under something. Old (value-less) textbooks on a bottom shelf might work really well.

kaldirris9 months ago
Great idea, but, like so many others, I think an uninteresting series or group of books would be better. In my house, it'd probably be trashy romance novels. No one would look twice. ;-)
Neko-Otaku10 months ago
I think this would look nicer if you left the front/back cover on the end books, then if the bookends get moved it still isn't obvious that there is anything hidden.
kinggargantuan10 months ago
someone might accidentally pull the whole thing down while trying to browse one of those time life books.
"OOH time life's Universe book... i've always wanted to... wait, it's stuck... maybe if i pull a little har... OOPS...OOH TREASURE!"
zbinn10 months ago
Cool
Trike Lover10 months ago
Really interesting take on this idea. I have to share others' dismay about chopping up a set of the Time-Life series. A search of my local classifieds turned up over two dozen sets of mediocre encyclopedias being given away free. With a little more work, The National Geographic magazine also provides a good hide. Collections of these are so numerous that even the Goodwill won't accept them. It does mean gluing the magazines together, and reinforcing the main inner section with four 3-foot lengths of 1/4"-20 Allthread, (threaded rod) at the corners, but this is inexpensive and easy to come by. Drilling for the threaded rod works best if you make a plywood template to locate the holes, then clamp about six issues at a time between the drill guide template and another piece of plywood and drill four holes, one near each corner. In no time, you'll have three feet of NG's drilled for threaded rod, and you ccan use nuts and "fender washers" at the ends of each rod to snug all the NG's into a solid block. It's convenient to cut out the inner cavity at the same time, with 4-6 magazines clamped together, rather than trying to do it later on. You can use an Olfa cutter (razor knife), or power tools, although tearing of the pages is a problem with those. I would glue the covers also, but that's optional. Then, once all the magazines are together and secured with the threaded rod, it's simply a matter of fitting your strongbox into the hollowed out section in the middle. As with the books, you have a few loose issues at each end, perhaps stiffened with heavy cardboard. One thing that hasn't been mentioned in much detail is the inner container. If you can find a strong steel box that can be fitted with a lock, that's a "Cadillac" version. If there's an old-time locksmith in your area, see if they have any "strongboxes" that will fit your needs. Another method is to build an inner box of 3/4 inch plywood, screws, and yellow carpenters glue, A box made of this is quite strong. Again, you'll want to fit a lock on the door end. A third option is to find a length of large diameter cast iron pipe, which used to be very common and formed the "main drain" in older homes. It can be found in scrapyards, purchased "by the pound," or wheedled out of a house renovator. This large diameter pipe is thick-walled and very strong. If you can find a friendly welder, he can braze a steel plate onto one end as a cap, and probably mount a similar plate on the other end with a hinge. If you don't know a welder, you can fabricate steel discs by chain-drilling and grinding or filing some steel plate to fit, and then epoxy the resulting plug into one end with "plastic steel" epoxy. Using similar methods, you can fit the other end with a stout hinge and lock. If someone wants to get in badly enough, they will - the idea is to make it difficult to do easily or quickly, assuming that your "hide" has been discovered. There are many variations on an internal compartment, depending on available material and your imagination. Modern industrial epoxy adhesives are incredibly strong, and so should be considered as part of any home built metal "inner" chamber, even if you also rivet or bolt the sides using, for example, steel plate and angle iron. Great article - thanks for sharing.
alcurb10 months ago
Cool approach for hiding your treasures, but at the expense of destroying another treasure??? I loved those books. Those were the books I gravitated towards when I was a child in grade-school. No other books held my interest as much as those; the Nature and the space series. How about substituting those books with hard-cover romance novels? Who would ever want to read those more than once?
fidibiri10 months ago
NOOOOOOO! I love that Time Life Series??
AlphaRomeo10 months ago
couldn't you find any other way of hiding .... I could no watch you cutting those LIFE Nature Library books... I have a copy of 'Universe' that is 30 years old and I still love going though the pages -- I could not afford rest then.
Beergnome10 months ago
I will parrot the whole OMG! not the BOOKS!!!

Time/Life collections are always incredible

World book and Britannica IMHO, tend to be more available and less of a crime to chop up..

this argument will always come up when the idea of chopping up books to make a thing comes up.. so now that we got all that out of the way.. let's move forward..

the best way for something like this to actually work is if it has been inserted into a much larger library of books, and placed somewhere obscure..

if all you have is a single, lonely book shelf, with an out dated set of encyclopedias on it, well.. that might stand out a bit.
lej61910 months ago
Nice job!! Both at the making and your instructions ! Thanks for sharing
lej619 lej61910 months ago
P.S. love the book ends!! I can not seem to find nice ones like these
zawy10 months ago
Awwww, man! Couldn't you have picked a different series of books!!!! :) Sure it's dated, but that's all the science some of us got "back in the day".
agis6810 months ago
pity was a nice book series! anyway creativity meets the disaster!

just kinding.?.......nope!
a2e agis6810 months ago
I entirely agree: LIFE series is amazing, I cannot tell how much I enjoyed and learned from my spanish-translated version of that collection and its great illustrators! How 'bout cutting your twilight saga or your LOTR hardcovers? We gotta make a point here technocrats!... it is instructables for chrisakes!
DeGreg10 months ago
Cute, but any self-respecting thief would likely look there first for you hiding in plain site valuables -- one fell swoop across the shelf in the midst of a ransack like in the movies and that's all she/he wrote.

; )
l8nite10 months ago
I like the whole idea
nmsokgo10 months ago
I have no so many books
WUVIE10 months ago
Totally impressive!
M3G10 months ago
That's pretty cool.
roadro201010 months ago
Wow!! Nice!

I'll keep this in my mind to make it as soon as posible.

Thanks for the idea! :D!
This is a cool idea! And that list you complied is great :)
Very cool!
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