Introduction: Super-Secret Hiding Place: the Toe-Kick

Picture of Super-Secret Hiding Place: the Toe-Kick

I've been obsessed with hiding things since I was a kid, and over the years have developed what I like to think are some pretty sophisticated, yet easily made, spots that most people will never find.

Kitchen (and bathroom) cabinets usually have what is called a "toe-kick" - the area between the floor and the bottom of the cabinet. The toe-kick is most often recessed - and guess what? There's nothing there but space waiting to be used.

You can do this in a rented apartment as long as you are careful - take your time, and you'll end up with an awesome stash spot.

Best of all, this doesn't cost more than a buck!

Here's what you need to get started:

Tools:

Razor knife
Putty knife with a thin blade
Some sort of pry tool, putty knife with thicker blade or flat piece of metal
A trim tool - used to pry molding from base boards
Diagonal cutters or tin snips
Hammer or mallet
Safety glasses
File and sandpaper
Block of wood to protect the surface you're going to hammer
Vacuum cleaner or broom (optional)


Materials:

4 rare earth magnets
Four screws or nails with heads - make sure they're attracted to magnets
Epoxy
Small piece of thin plywood (optional)
Box or other container to fit the spot (optional)

Step 1: Identify the Spot

Picture of Identify the Spot

Look around your kitchen or bathroom to find a corner or end floor cabinet with just a foot or so of recessed baseboard. In my case, I had a corner cabinet in the kitchen that was perfect for this.

The baseboard needs to be a separate piece of wood, i.e., not attached to the cabinet itself. Most floor cabinets are set up this way.

Step 2: Carefully, Carefully Pry Off the Board

Picture of Carefully, Carefully Pry Off the Board

The complete success of this project rests on how delicately and carefully you remove this board. You don't want any obvious marks, or heaven forbid cracks or paint chips to piss of your landlord and give away where you've hidden your fortune.

Begin by scoring between the adjoining boards to separate the paint (if it's painted), so that nothing peels or chips. Then take the putty knife, and gently work it between the boards from top to bottom. Try not to pry, but to loosen. Keep working your way from top to bottom, wiggling the tool as you go. As soon as you've got a clean line, pry gently until you can fit in the thicker tool. Do this on both sides if you have access - mine was next to the stove, so I had to work from one side. I strongly advise against using a screwdriver, as they are prone to putting big dents in the wood.

Once you get the board moved about 1/4", you can put one end of the tool against the inside of the board and give it a couple of taps with your hammer. Keep working like this until you can fit your fingers in the space.

Then start pushing the board back and forth with your hand, being careful not to break or crack it. This can take awhile if the space is tight, so be patient. It's okay to bend the nails, and once you get it far enough out, you can bang on it with the hammer.

Eventually you'll be able to pull the board completely off. Yay! Look at all that room!

Step 3: Clean and Inspect the Space

Picture of Clean and Inspect the Space

The space you have just revealed may be a bit grimy or dusty. It's nice to have it clean, especially if you're going to be using it a lot.

I also like to put something on the floor - usually cardboard or a scrap of carpet. Underneath my cabinet, the vinyl flooring had been cut and tucked in, so I tacked that down just to make everything smooth.

If your cabinet is one with a drawer on the bottom, chances are it will have a dust barrier, which is a piece of wood underneath the drawer. If it doesn't, the space is still secure - but you can add a piece of wood if you want.

Step 4: Prepare the Board

Picture of Prepare the Board

Now you have the board in your hot little hands. Most likely it will have been tacked on by four or more nails. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, pound the nails through the front or back!

Take your diagonal cutters, rotary tool or hacksaw and cut the nails close to the board, and file them so they don't bite you later.

Now, poke starter holes below or above the nail stubs, and slowly drill a little recess to insert the magnets. Be extremely careful not to drill through the board.

A neat little woodworkers trick is to wrap a small piece of tape around the bit at the right depth. That way all of the holes will be the same depth.

Test fit the magnets until they are perfectly flush with the board. If you drill too deep, just put a piece of cardboard or scrap of something in the hole to shore it up. When they are flush, glue them in with epoxy, and double check that they're still flush.

Now you're ready to work on the cabinet itself.

That's it, the board is ready!

Step 5: Put the Screws In

Picture of Put the Screws In

In this step you will be putting the screws (or nails) on the cabinet frame, which will grab the magnets and hold the board.

To mark the spot, I put the screws on the magnet and pressed it against the cabinet frame.

Drill pilot holes - slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws, then put those puppies in. You want them as flush as possible and still able to grab the magnets. As you're driving them, watch weather or not the wood is starting to split. If it is, back out the screws and drill a larger hole. If the hole is too big, just glue the screws in.Keep checking your work until you get it right and everything from the outside looks nice and tight.

Step 6: Stash Your Stuff!

Picture of Stash Your Stuff!

That's it! You now have a very secure and oh-so-cool spot to hide whatever you want. If you like, find a box or other container that slides in and out, so you don't have to reach way in there.

Happy hiding!

Step 7: Final Notes

Picture of Final Notes

If you want to get super-fancy, you can rig up something that pulls out of the spot with wheels or drawer slides. I just put a handle on the box, so I can reach right in and pull it out.

Finally, the toe-kick board may be pretty darn tight. Mine was way too tight, so I filed and sanded the top of it off until it fit just right.



Comments

Zogman42 (author)2013-03-25

What are sources for the rare earth magnets? My local sources have ones that are too big.

SRDsPoppa (author)Zogman422015-08-04

Harbor Freight tools has em on the cheap. You get a tube of ten perfectly sized magnets for $3.00 I buy a lot when I go because I use them to hold stencils for airbrush work but I've used them to stash stuff as well.

brandegor (author)Zogman422013-03-27

I salvaged mine from a dollar store toy that I think was called a "door alarm annunciator." Sorry I can't be more help than that - I've also ordered them online from American Science and Surplus (http://www.sciplus.com/) and Lee Valley Tools (http://www.leevalley.com/).

peetar_webster (author)brandegor2013-09-18

you can also get them on amazon.com

julian3012003 (author)2015-05-21

Coolest. Thing. Ever. I love the idea! It makes me want to rip the cabinets apart, but my sis already read read this article.

rimar2000 (author)2009-09-16

Where do you live? Street, number, city, state, etc... ;)

brandegor (author)rimar20002009-09-16

1600 Pennsylvania Ave .. . Washington, DC.

rimar2000 (author)brandegor2009-09-16

I live in Argentine and speak Spanish, not English. Then I don't understand if there is a joke in your response, but I suppose YES. LAST MOMENT!! I found it in Google, it is the White House address... Good response!

brandegor (author)rimar20002009-09-17

Escribir bien el idioma Inglés - better than most Americans.

rimar2000 (author)brandegor2009-09-17

Thanks. That happens here in Argentina too, I have fellow professionals who can not write in Spanish. I use Google Translator and after I correct some words. Gracias. Eso ocurre también acá en Argentina, tengo compañeros profesionales que no saben escribir en español. Yo uso el Traductor Google y luego corrijo algunas palabras.

jbaroni (author)rimar20002011-12-05

aqui no Brasil usamos muito o GOOGLE CHROME, é perfeito para tradução...

peetar_webster (author)jbaroni2013-09-18

no ablo espanol

cammel8 (author)rimar20002009-09-25

his response was the address of the Whitehouse....where the president of the USA lives. And I thought rather funny myself....

rimar2000 (author)cammel82009-09-25

Yes , yes, I found it in Google. Thanks.

l96470fps (author)2009-11-18

ha! ive been doing this for years and other bits and pieces, great minds think alike! currently i have one under the bookshelf in my hallway and no-one has ever found it!  mine is just friction held so you just kick it (toe kick) and walla its open, great ible! 5/5

peetar_webster (author)l96470fps2013-09-18

ah the pun. also "walla" is actually "voila"

Tuhua Tarakona (author)2012-06-14

Love it!! There are SO many places within a home that are a 'waste' of space and just begging to be used and 'not seen'. ;^) The one comment on finding a stash inside an old sink - wow! Reminds me of when old depression-era folks would hide money in books and such for safe keeping. My kids' Dad's Grandma used to do that - and when she passed on - it took days to go thru all her books to gather up the $5's and $10's and such that she stashed. Crazy!

jellybean10122 (author)2009-12-12

 Bad thing is, in my house, that's where those big*ss rats live, and they are persistent little buggers.

Nasubi77 (author)jellybean101222011-06-10

I realize this comment is old, but you could put your "stash" inside a PVC pipe capped off at both ends (whatever size fits your stash and fits inside the secret place) to prevent the rodents from getting to it.

brandegor (author)Nasubi772011-12-18

Don't see why not - I scored a lead box used at hospitals for transporting something for radiology - they use them once and toss them. It's a long flat thing and seals tight as a drum. Good point on the rodents - I didn't think of that.

brandegor (author)jellybean101222009-12-19

Yeah, that's a bummer. Sorry, mate.

qmounts (author)2011-08-01

man, you are genius i never would have thought of taking off the toe kick and rigging an easy reatachment thing im 13 and im definately going to use this

ralphywiggum (author)2011-07-05

This is a great post! Thanks for sharing one of your secret spots.  

I found these online, and use one in the house and one in my truck for emergency cash.  I don't think you could find them, even if you were looking for them.  

http://www.toysfrommyattic.com/StashableStorageTube

framistan (author)2010-02-07

I found someones SECRET STASH once !!!  It was a wad of aluminum foil folded up into a kind of a square shape and hung under an OLD OLD kitchen sink.  It looked like a piece of JUNK.  We were tearing out the kitchen sink... and tossing the junk into the center of the kitchen.  The sink was so old it was one of those heavy iron ones.  Something struck me as the aluminum foil looked OUT OF PLACE and very ODD.  So I peeled back the foil and there was $1400.00 inside !  The guy who owned it must have died suddenly, and never retrieved it.  By the dates on the money i figured it must have been under the sink for at least 20 years. I gave the money to my brother because it was his house. 

Chirpoff (author)framistan2011-06-10

WOW! That's awesome! I think I'll stick around the next time my family rips out the sink! LOL

brandegor (author)framistan2010-02-08

Sweet!

evinsask (author)2009-12-21

This is brilliant.  Love it!

brb112988 (author)2009-10-14

another good place i used to stach my money so my older brother couldentfind it was in the back of a ps2 theres a place for an expansion bay andi never had an expansion bay so i figured what the heck and startedputtin it in there and he evan used to take my whole ps2 and stiff neverfound it ha ha dummy

Re-design (author)2009-10-12

I went to tech school in the Air Force in Denver.  All the dorm rooms had a cabinet like this in the room.  Every one of them had the panel below fixed for extra hidden storage.  There was an understanding that the Sergeants never checked there.

brandegor (author)Re-design2009-10-13

Interesting - two of my brothers and my dad were all in the AF and never told me...

vegettopotato (author)2009-09-19

This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing such a good secret!

aseaheru (author)2009-09-16

sweetness!

partyone (author)2009-09-15

To paraphrase a book I read once, "The best secret is one that stays secret." Now I know your secret. Actually that is an awesome idea! Thanks for the tip. I would have never thought of this. I have seen hidden drawers in stairs before. Mayhaps you could use shelf slides and make a hidden drawer and use magnets to hold it closed.

brandegor (author)partyone2009-09-16

Ha - I know - I thought about that before I published!

dchall8 (author)partyone2009-09-15

I had my carpenter build a toekick drawer when he built the cabinet in my bathroom. Never told anyone about it but now I have new cabinets without the hidden drawer, so... This can be done behind the baseboard, too. I've also seen a stash behind the wall adjacent to a hanging ceiling.

Weissensteinburg (author)2009-09-15

This is awesome! The screws were a great, cheap way to attach it, instead of using 4 magnets.

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