Introduction: Quick and Easy Book Safe/geocache Container

Picture of Quick and Easy Book Safe/geocache Container

There are a number of existing Instructables related to creating Book Safes. Most of these require the use of a sharp knife and the tedious process of cutting each page individually. I wanted to make a series of books to use as a set of geocaching hides and this approach seemed too slow so I came up with my own solution of how to make a neat cut-out through the pages.

Step 1: Required Materials

Picture of Required Materials

In order to make this you will require:

1. A book, one that you don't mind destroying. If you are planning to use this as a book safe it should be one that will fit in on your book shelf. It is highly likely this old hymn book would stick out like a sore thumb on a bookshelf full of modern fiction books.

2. A pillar drill, you could try with a hand held power drill but are likely to struggle keeping it straight.

3. A holesaw drill bit in the size that you want your storage area. Obviously this needs to be smaller than your book, but larger than the items you want to store.

4. Two pieces of scrap wood, wider than your holesaw bit and longer than your book.

5. Clamps, with wide enough grips to securely grip the book and wood to your drill press plate.

6. PVA Glue, glue spreader and pot

7. A pair of tweezers, if you don't have any you can probably use a screwdriver etc.

8. Non-stick sheeting, I've used a piece of oven liner but kitchen foil or similar may also work.

9. A file if you want to neaten up the edges.

10. A pencil.

Step 2: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

Firstly we will prepare a jig for clamping. By using two bits of wood with a hole through clamped round the pages we want to ensure the pages don't move or rip whilst drilling.

Line up and clamp the two bits of wood together. Mark the sides of the wood so that you can line them up accurately later and ensure you have them both the correct way up.

Drill a hole all the way through the wood. Try to avoid drilling into the pillar drills plate, flipping them over halfway through helps solve this problems.

Open the book and work out how thick you want the storage area to be. To make the book feel more natural you want to leave enough pages before and after storage area, I'd suggest using the middle third of the book but it is up to you.

Place a piece of wood on each side of the storage area. Make sure you have them aligned properly with both sides the right way up and then clamp them to the book and to the drill press stand.

Step 3: Drilling

Picture of Drilling

First double check your alignment, make sure the holes in the wood are aligned with each other and also aligned with where the drill will drop down - don't forget to make sure the central drill bit is lined up with the hole through the drill plate.

Turn on the drill and slowly bring it down onto the book. With any luck it should start cutting the paper. Push down until you feel resisting, the release the leaver and turn the drill off.

Using tweezers, a flat head screwdriver, knife or whatever else you have use it to pry the now cut pieces of paper up and out of the way. Some of these may not be fully cut through, just rip the paper away carefully, the next pass through with the drill head will clean it up.

Don't forget to check the drill head, paper can get stuck up there and it really makes it much harder when drilling if you are trying to squash all this paper as well.

Repeat the drilling process until you are all the way through the pages. This takes a bit of patience but shouldn't take too long.

Do one last pass through to clean up the edges. If they are still rough in places and you are a perfectionist you may want to use the file to do any last bits of cleaning - do this with the clamps still attached.

Step 4: Glueing

Picture of Glueing

Remove the clamps and wood, you are now ready for gluing.

Place a non-stick sheet between the bottom of the hole and the back pages, kitchen foil may also work. This is ensure that you don't make the back page too messy with glue, if you don't care (no-one should be looking in it right?) then you may get away with skipping the prottection.

Spread the glue up and down the sides of the book, covering it liberally so that their is plenty of paper for the pages to absorb. Leave it for about 5 minutes and then re-run the glue stick round the circle, re-spreading any excess glue until it is neat and completely covered.

Fold the non-stick sheet so that it is covering the front pages and clamp the book shut. Leave to dry overnight.

Once dried you should have a storage area that is relatively firm but the edges of which can still be 'flipped' and look natural.

Now glue the next page of the book to the storage area so that it has a base - make sure you don't spread the glue all the way to the edges of the book so that it stays natural (and you don't want glue seeping out making a mess,

Clamp again and leave to dry and then you are all done.

Step 5: Conclusions

Picture of Conclusions

You now have a book safe, put something in and go hide it somewhere!

So did this technique work? I was pleasantly surprised how well the glue on the insides of the cut work. I was expecting that it wouldn't be strong enough, but so far it seems to be holding up. The outsides of the book have remained untouched and it is impossible to tell from casual inspection that there is anything special about this book - even if someone were to flip the corners. The technique also produces nice neat edges of the storage area without requiring large amounts of dexterity or tedious painstaking work. There are some negatives, it took longer to get the drill through the book than I was hoping, however it is still much more efficient than cutting the pages by hand with a scalpel. Obviously the big downside of this approach is that the storage area is round rather than square, this limits what can be stored and doesn't use up all the space which is available. It is up to you if the speed benefits (particularly if you are making many) outweigh the limitations in storage space.

Like any simple idea I'm not the first to come up with this approach, it has been pointed out that this instructable does a very similar technique.


Jack Houweling (author)2016-09-25

Same as the one I made December 2015. Most people don't have a drill press so I showed how to make it using a handheld drill.

I have been wanting to make one but the process was entirely to tedious of a task for me (issues with ME and Leukemia brain fog and not so steady hands) have prevented me until now
Thank you
on a side note I'm going to use wood glue do as you have described but in order to make it square I'm going to try a very sharp chisel (I sharpen things a lot and have very very sharp chisels that only I'm allowed to use after a friend nearly cut the tip off his finger testing it )
But with the wood glue being dry it should be enough after clamping and drilling to square up the edges as you would any wood product
great instructable

CluegoEscape (author)2017-01-31

We made a few of book safes using a cutting knife, but this idea of using a drill certainly makes the hole process faster and a lot less tedious! Thanks!

Buster Blader made it! (author)2016-11-01

Buster Blader

Right2Defend (author)2016-09-22

Thanks for giving me an idea! This would make items faster to access in an emergency.

I am curious about the term "pillar drill". I have never heard this machine called by that before. I live in the U.S.A., but I read and watch content from all over the world. I have only heard this machine referred to as a "drill press". Is "pillar drill" the common name for it where you live? Please, no insult intended; just curious. :-)

Thanks again.

mole125 (author)Right2Defend2016-09-22

I'm in the UK, Pillar Drill was what I learnt to call them and looking at some of our big machine stores/manufacturers Pillar Drill seems to be what they call them as well, although drill press is also commonly used (particularly with foreign product names).

Hopefully the labelled picture let you work out what I was talking about pretty quickly!

Mark 42 (author)mole1252016-09-23

A friend told me that to "Knock up a girl" means something different in the UK than the U.S.

Apparently in the U.K. it maens to go knock on her door and aske her for a date.

Ken664 (author)Mark 422016-09-25

No - in my experience it is the same as the US. Perhaps 50 yrs ago....?

mole125 (author)Ken6642016-09-25

I'd agree with that, I can imagine that is where the phrase came from but I've only ever heard it used for getting someone pregnant - though who knows perhaps in some town or region it is still used in the traditional manner.

Right2Defend (author)mole1252016-09-22

You did a great job of documenting your procedures, and the pictures were very well done. I appreciate quality work and sincere effort at teaching.

The internet has allowed me to learn things about other cultures that I otherwise would not know.

Our countries share a common language - English. I have always had an interest in the subtle differences that have evolved over time. You may have noticed some of these too. A few examples:

UK: learnt USA: learned
UK: whilst USA: while
UK: windscreen USA: windshield
UK: bonnet USA: hood (engine compartment covering)
UK: lorry USA: truck
UK: queue USA: line

The spoken language really complicates things. Within each country we have regional differences; even differences from one neighborhood to another; some of them are so different that I can barely understand what they are saying.

Thanks again! Chuck

jozka (author)Right2Defend2016-09-23

Also: UK: lift, USA: elevator

mole125 (author)Right2Defend2016-09-23

I agree language differences can be really interesting, and a source of misunderstanding. Another one I know of is if you described this instructable as 'quite good' then being British I would read that as you saying "it is almost, but not totally good, there is still room for improvement, but it is a small bit above average' whilst as an American you would be trying to say 'it is very good, nothing really needs improving on it as it is better than good.'

Pentagrid (author)mole1252016-09-22

Here in New Zealand when I did woodwork class, it was referred to as manual training, this sort of drill was called a drill press.

lobstergun (author)2016-09-22

"Obviously the big downside of this approach is that the storage area is round rather than square,"

Would a router or a spiral saw work for this?

TwistedFrosty (author)lobstergun2016-09-24

Router may end up pulling the paper as it cuts, but the spiral saw is a good one to try, i dont have one but i certainly would give it a go if i did.

TwistedFrosty (author)2016-09-24

Could you add 4 magnets using a smaller drill to keep the top of the book from flopping open(like just close to the cavity), say if someone was trying to find something on the shelves and it were to be knocked down?

David the R (author)2016-09-24

The easiest way to keep from drilling anything under a jig is to place a piece of scrap wood under the jig. Set the depth gauge deep enough to make it through the book.

Nice work for a make-do rig, thanks.

IkeB2 (author)2016-09-24

No reason a square area couldn't be made by making the plywood holes rectangular, drilling a smaller hole in one of the corners and using a jigsaw to cut along the edge of the plywood hole. All remaining steps would still apply of course.

IkeB2 (author)2016-09-24

Imagine my surprise and disappointment should I pick up such a book, start reading it, whilst becoming increasingly intrigued only to be balderdashed by the sudden appearance of a hidden treasure on the next page but one that has cut my intrigue short!

Feroz Akram (author)2016-09-23


ElizabethM130 (author)2016-09-22

I was wondering if you could somehow use a paperback book as your safe?

And would there be a way to add a small lock on the open end of the book?

mole125 (author)ElizabethM1302016-09-22

There is no reason that a paperback book wouldn't work, although there is a risk that if laid flat the centre would sag where the paper has been removed.

It might be possible to add a lock, however it would mostly be cosmetic as someone could always just rip down the spine to get access to the contents, the key is that they don't realise something is hidden there.

Dannlh (author)mole1252016-09-22

I was thinking of drilling some smaller holes on the edge of the paper in the "box" area and the cover pages then dropping in some neodymium magnets for a way to help it stay closed.

E.g. flip the top 4 or 5 pages of the box pages up and drill shallow 1/4" holes through remaining box pages. Drop in glue and magnets and finish gluing the box pages down.

Keep 4 or 5 pages loose on the top cover pages, drill matching holes through the remaining cover pages. Drop in glue and magnets, glue cover pages together.

Close book, cover stays closed because of magnets, no visible change to the book.

Make sure your magnets are lined up before you drop them in by sticking them together and drawing a line down one edge with a marker for orientation reference or you may end up making a book that can't ever be closed!

mole125 (author)Dannlh2016-09-23

It was something I was considering as well. Rather than having magnets on both sides you may get away with having a thin strip of metal (paperclip even) attached to the inside front cover of the book, this would probably be thin enough that you don't need to do any extra drilling/gluing on that side.

ElizabethM130 (author)mole1252016-09-22

Thanks, I don't own many hardback books, and I have a bunch of paperback books I can use.

EmmitS (author)ElizabethM1302016-09-22

A lock would be a dead giveaway. The whole idea of a book safe is that even though a burglar may suspect a book safe, he doesn't know which book holds the safe. If one of the books has a lock or keyhole showing, he'll know to go right to that book, tuck it into his bag and open it at his leisure when he gets home. What you might do is to get a small locking container that will fit inside the pocket of the book, but even then, all a burglar has to do is stick the entire container in his bag and open it later.

andrew.mead.1253 (author)2016-09-23

The Hymn Society of America's shall hear about this! Harrumph!!

mole125 (author)andrew.mead.12532016-09-23

lol, good thing that these are from the UK then :)

jerry.tuley.5 (author)2016-09-22

If you dont have a piller drill or drill press this can be done by gluing the pages first, put a sheet if wax paper at the beginning and end of your cavity. Spread glue on each page and then place a gallon of water on the book and let the glue dry. You can also get a smooth cut by running your drill backwards. Have fun

Prof. A. Z. O_Trope (author)2016-09-22

Great idea! My suggestion for cutting all the way through in one go would be to clamp it with a piece of scrap wood underneath. Just stop drilling when you hit the wood.

Mark 42 (author)2016-09-22

I figured it involed a holesaw, but couldn't think of how to do it without causing mass destruction.

Clamp it between two boards. Brilliant!

I've encountered two more British/American language differences, both of which led to some angst. In a meeting, after long and tedious discussion of a particular decision, one of the Americans suggested that we "table the issue." All agreed, and we then started to move onto other things. The Brits asked if we were going to table the issue as agreed, or not, and confusion ensued. As us Yanks see it, "table" means to set aside and revisit in the future. To the Brits, "table" meant to bring the issue to an immediate vote. In another case, when we were visiting a contractor in the UK, we asked to see certain documents, and we were told that we would get them "at the end of the day." As the meeting broke up that evening, we asked where the documents were, and were again told them we'd get them at the end of the day. To us, "end of the day" was taken literally, but in the British interpretation, it meant "eventually."

On a related topic, a Scottish friend was explaining to me the relaxed pace of life in the Highlands, where he was from, and I suggested that they must have a Scottish equivalent to the Spanish "manana." He asked what that meant, and I said that literally, it meant "tomorrow," but that it was often used more loosely to mean "in a day or two," . . ., or maybe three or four. He thought for a bit, then replied: "I canna think of a word in our language that expresses such a degree of urgency." :-)

tipsyskipper (author)2016-09-22

Perhaps a jig saw or scroll saw would work? You wouldn't have to do much aligning. Just clamp your blocks together around the pages, drill the through hole for the saw blade, and cut away. This way you could make a square hole rather than round. Alternatively, you could just use the jig saw to give your hole corners once you've used your technique with the hole saw. I'll post back here if I give it a go.

Wartim (author)tipsyskipper2016-09-22

I've tried it on a jig saw and didn't work so well. Maybe with a sharper saw blade, but still the pages griped really hard on the blade and the whole thing just jumped up and down.

RachelH134 (author)Wartim2016-09-22

I was actually thinking about the same solution... Hmm... What if you used wood glue [or elmers, or whatnot] to hold all of the pages together... I guess that might add to the tedium, but it would mean that you don't have to cut them individually, and the book might hold up better in the end...

tipsyskipper (author)Wartim2016-09-22

I was afraid of that. I imagine you'd need to clamp the jig to the book and then clamp the whole thing to the workbench... Slow and steady on the scroll saw might work better...

mole125 (author)tipsyskipper2016-09-22

Please do let us know how it goes - it sounds a very promising idea.

Joecool 3 (author)mole1252016-09-22

Perhaps a metal-cutting bit on your jigsaw?

Kinnishian (author)2016-09-22

Nice! I remember when making these in middle school the corners were what really made the manual cutting terrible. I think I may have tried using a dremel but it was hard to keep nice. I bet 4 smaller circles combined with manually cutting the pages out would be a bit improvement! Though, you can also just use a giant circle as you did

Four circles , great idea : )

ste2win (author)2016-09-22

An idea would be use a plunge blade on a oscillating multi tool, this would cut through paper easily and make nice straight cuts allowing rectangles and fast..

Heather Boyd Wire (author)2016-09-22

LOL My brother used to do this to bring a micky of vodka to high school!

AnneL4 (author)2016-09-22

but know the most of the peopleknow its no longer safe

mxx (author)2016-09-22

Detailed intstructions. Thanks!

Swansong (author)2016-09-19

This would be so much faster! I love these, they make great hiding places. :)

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