Secret Book Switch





Introduction: Secret Book Switch

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.

All credit goes to B.Light Design who came up with this inventive secret, hidden book switch. After seeing this on the web I knew I just had to make my own.

NOTE - the last image is a GIF but I'm finding that they don't work on Mobile devices. They work fine though on PC's.

For ease of making this Instructable, I decided to make the initial build on a piece of wood. This way I can easily show how the switch works and don’t have to try and take good photos of my bookshelves (lots of shadows and crappy light).

I have wired up the switch to activate a light on my bookshelf. It’s powered by batteries but there is no reason why you couldn’t hook it up to mains power. Just make sure that you know what you are doing and understand the loads limits of the switch. You could even hook this up to a secret door if you’re lucky enough to have one!

I’m thinking about making a secret draw somewhere on my bookshelf which is activated and opens by the secret book switch.

Step 1: Parts and Tools


1. Fan Switch – eBay

2. Aluminium strip 10mm x 3mm 1m Aluminium – Bunnings or any local hardware store

3. Aluminium Strip 20mm x 1.6mm 1m Aluminium – Bunnings or any local hardware store

4. Block Terminal – eBay

5. Various sized screws

6. Braid fishing line – eBay

7. Hinge 10mm x 8mm - eBay


1. Drill

2. Angle grinder

3. Philips head screwdriver

4. Vice

5. Epoxy

6. Pliers

Step 2: Making the Bracket for the Switch


1. First cut a 50mm length from the 20mm Aluminium strip

2. Next bend it close to half way. In the images I had the bottom section longer that the top. Later on I decided to trim the bottom section of the bracket

3. Drill a hole into top section of the bracket. The hole needs to be big enough to fit the switch into.

4. Next drill a smaller hole into the base of the bracket. This will be used to secure the bracket to the bookshelf.

5. Lastly, fit the switch into the bracket using the gold screw end to secure it in place

Step 3: Adding the Hinge to the Book Lever

I had to modify a hinge as I didn’t have one the right size. Cutting a hinge in half and trying to put it back together wasn’t easy (the little pin is a pain in the arse) so in the parts list I have added a link to an 8mm hinge which will work perfectly.

I’m calling this section the book lever as it is the part that sits behind the spine on the book and allows you to turn on the switch.


1. So if you don’t have the right sized hinge you will need to modify a larger one by cutting it in half. The ends of the pin on the hinge will also need to be bend in with a hole punch or something similar so it doesn’t come out

2. Cut a piece of the 10mm aluminium strip. The size will depend on what book you are going to use.

NOTE: when picking a book I found it helps to have one that is older and also have a dust jacket. Once you have your book you can work out what length to make the arm of the lever out of the 10mm aluminium strip.

3. Place the hinge against the strip and mark where to drill the holes in the aluminium.

4. Secure the hinge to the strip with a couple small screws and nuts. I also trimmed the excess thread on the screws and grinded them down as flat as I could. Also did the same for the screw head. This will ensure that the screw won’t be visible behind the cover of the book.

Step 4: Attaching the Switch


1. Place the bracket for the switch as far to the back as you can on the bookshelf. If you find that there is any excess aluminium on the bracket that is inhibiting you getting to the back, remove this and try again. The reason why you want to get this as far back as possible is so your book isn’t sticking too far out on the shelf.

2. Screw the bracket into place

NOTE. One the final build when I did attach the switch and bracket, I also glued on top the terminal – see the next step for more details

Step 5: Final Bracket and Switch Design


1. To ensure that the bracket took up least room as possible, I trimmed the bottom section and made this shorter

2. I also rounded the edges so there were no sharp edges

3. I glued a terminal onto the top of the switch. The one that is in the parts list will be the best type to get. However, if you do have a terminal lying round just cut to size and glue to the top.

4. Lastly, I cut and screwed into place the wires from the switch. This way all I need to do is to secure the wires from the LED light into the terminal and I’m done. No soldering etc.

Step 6: Attaching the Book Lever

As mentioned early, you would actually be attaching this to the bookshelf. Using a piece of wood makes it easy to document this build.


1. To work out what distance you need from the switch to the lever, place the book just in front of the switch and mark where the spine is

2. Grab a couple small screws and secure the lever into place.

3. Drill a small hole in the top of the lever for the fishing braid

Step 7: Adding the Fishing Line Braid


1. Cut a piece of the braid fishing line and tie it to the end of the chain on the switch. In the final build I trimmed the chain so I could put the book as close as possible to the switch.

2. Next stand the lever up and whist it is in the standing position, tie the other end of the braid to it.

3. Trim any loose braid

Step 8: Adding the Book to the Lever


1. Remove one section of the dust cover from the book and open the book half way.

2. Place the braid between the pages and place on the shelf. The lever should be resting on the back of the books spine.

3. Replace the cover and test to make sure the lever activates the switch.

Step 9:

As a test to make sure that it worked, I added a small battery and LED’s to the switch. In case you are unsure of how to wire-up the switch, I have included some steps below on how to do this.


1. Attach the positive wire from the battery to one of the wires from the switch

2. Next attach the other wire from the switch to the positive end of the LED. LED’s have positive and negative polarities so if you don’t wire it up right nothing will happen

3. Attach the negative wire from the battery to the negative leg of the LED

4. Test by pulling the book down and activating the switch.

Step 10: Attaching the Switch to the Bookshelf


1. Screw the switch and lever down to the shelf. Remember to have the switch as far back on the shelf as possible

2. Attach the battery and light. If you want to use mains power then it’s up to you. Just make sure that you know what you are doing.

3. Attach some braid to the switch and lever

4. Put the book into place on the lever and give it a pull

5. Enjoy your hidden book switch



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    3 Tips

    Use a magnetic reed switch

    I admit that I scanned this article very rapidly, and the example was done with a low voltage switch, but I did not see a warning like this: ALL WIRING WITH 120 VOLT POWER MUST BE ENCLOSED IN APPROVED WIRING BOXES. That pull switch on the angled piece of metal, with its insulated but unprotected wires coming out the back, is just great if the power is 70 volts or less. But if you wire it up to run a light like the one shown in the introductory photos, you'll be voiding any kind of insurance you may have against fire!

    The photos show that it's not difficult to install that switch as it's shown, but it's much harder to do this using the approved electrical boxes that you need to do it properly.

    If this project is modified such that, for instance, 12 volt LED lighting is turned on and off, then it's PERFECT.


    We needed to put a bookcase on a wall with a light switch. I cut a hole in the back of the bookcase for the switch and its cover plate. Still, the switch is difficult to access without moving a few books away. I bought a $1.50 SPNO microswitch rated at about 5 amps, 130V and replaced the standard switch with it. Now, when I need to turn the lights on, I just push a book back half an inch, or so. To turn off the light, I pull it out. Barely noticable. If I used SPNC switch, I could use it to trigger things that are normally left on. I think I spent all of 10 minutes on this project.

    1 Questions

    what happens if I change the lightbulb to an electric door?

    It depends on how much voltage and amps are needed to activate it. if it is 3 amps and under you will be ok as the switch is rated for 3 amps. I'd also stuck to 12v's as well as it's safer. Lastly, be careful wiring anything up to mains and make sure you know what you are doing.

    thanks man!


    Great selection of books and authors.

    Hey, can't build anything like this in my existing unit, but have to stop by and say that this is brilliant! I love that you've created something every kid in the world has always wanted but made it practical in the sense that any kid in the world COULD build this (as opposed to a switch that opens a secret door to a secret room filled with treasure.)

    Favorited this one because... you never know. :)


    1 reply

    Thanks so much. My boys love to use it. I think I'm going to try and hook it up to a small, secret safe hidden in my floor - that will get me one step closer to making my secret lair!


    That is a lovely piece of work!

    I like how the book isn't damaged in the process.

    1 reply

    Cheers. Yeah I was conscience of ensuring that I didn't damage the book in any way.

    I really like the simplicity and fun aspect of your project. I took on another hidden switch approach several years ago when I had a few used microswitches. I installed them in a couple of steel boxes with cover plates, just like the ones in older houses used to mount switches and outlets in. I mounted one on the inside to a a door of a food storage room and another on a jamb to a little room used to house a large deep freeze. They are in turn wired to outlets and lights are plugged into them. You open the door and a light comes on just like your fridge or freezer. I like the book idea though. I will have to work on a way to make use of that. Maybe a powered hidden door. Hmmmm....this is fun doing creative things. Thanks again for posting.

    1 reply

    Actually I really like your idea of turning on a light with a momentary lever switch. I might do something similar in the kitchen cupboard. Thanks for checking it out.

    It may be possible to slide the metal piece between the spine and the cover of the book, rather than the dust cover, as sometimes there is room in between if you bend the cover back a little.

    I love the simplicity, and I wish I had room to create a secret room with a switch like this!

    1 reply

    Most definitely. If you don't have a book with a dust cover, then sliding the lever between the cover and book would work fine. It might however damage the book so make sure you don't use a 1st ed of The Hobbit!

    Like the idea....I made a similar device by tearing into an old thermostat and using the mercury switch. Just hallowed out part of an old book and glued it in. thanks for the cool instructable!!

    1 reply

    You can actually buy those mercury switches for next to nothing. I like your ingenuity though.

    Great build maaaaaaate. Nice to see some familiar Aussie words like "Bunnings", "arse" :o)

    1 reply

    My husband, bless his heart, has said that my worst habit is reading in bed (then falling asleep with the light on and sometimes scaring the cat as I drop the book...). A switch system such as this would have helped me, but it occurred to me that there must be some sort of remote switch so that I could turn off the light without having to get up. I found just what I needed at a big box electrical store (orange). The helpful lighting expert began by showing me $50 remote light switches, then we worked our way down to some that are $6-7! I just got one and it solved the problem! However, I am going to have to follow your easy-looking 'ible and make a switch like this just for the fun of it! Great photos - thanks!