Introduction: Magazine Rack (with Hidden Compartment)

About: I classify myself as an enthusiastic amateur wood worker, hoping to improve my skills over time... with practice.

Build Difficulty: 1/5

Build Time: 5 Hours

Cost: Approx $70

Being a true-blue aussie bloke, I find trips to the toilet boring without stimulation. However I find that storing books and magazines on the floor to be a problem as, as a man, my aim isn't always it's best. Also, ever keen for a bargain, I like to buy my toilet paper in bulk, and lacking storage space in the smallest room to store all the paper I require. So, I set to work to try to knock both problems off in one swoop.

I set to work with paper and pencil sketching out my rough ideas. I measures the swing of the door, and the available space so I had a rough guide to work by. Once I had my dimensions and the rough idea of how I wanted to add my secret compartment, I set myself a shopping list and set to work. Rather than attempting to make do (as I have done in the past) with pieces I have lying around, I decided to purchase the right width pieces, saving myself time ripping or sawing pieces down to size. Once I had all my lengths of wood and the hinges and magnetic catches for the secret compartment, I set to work.

Step 1: Building the Frame

The majority of this build was done on the fly, and built on spec, so unlike my previous builds, I did not rely on exact measurements to make my work come to life. I knew the spacing between the two uprights on either size was to be determined by the size of my secret panel, so I simply used it as a block guide when hammering home the bullet head nails. Up until this project I had always used screws or bolts when creating objects, but thought that for this I would give nails their fair due.

I found that the nails allowed me to create the unit faster, as there was no need to pre-drill holes for screws or to counter sink the heads, as I purchased a punch to ensure the nails were hit home the full distance, without damaging or bruising the timber. If others have had issues with such issues arising, I can not sing the praises of a punch high enough. Well worth the investment, and I'm sure that I will use it again in the future.

The space between the magazine holders, and the width of the unit, was determined by the width of 2 magazines wide, and 1 magazine high. I also left a small clearance from the bottom of the unit to the bottom panel, exactly how much I honestly do not know, as I used a spare scrap of timber I has lying around as a spacer. The space is left to allow the secret panel to open on the hinge without hitting the floor, so when creating your own leave whatever space you desire.

I created the basic frame of the unit as you can see in the images above, before starting work on the secret compartment, and interior shelving compartments. I created the top compartment to hold heavier, bulkier items such as books, and the framing that will be put into place in later steps is done to hide the secret from public view.

Step 2: Making the Secret

A small spacing piece (the same timber I used for the uprights) was used to create the bottom shelf of the front 2 magazine holders, and once they were all in place the backing piece was nailed in place from behind. My backing piece is in fact "pieces" as I used the offcuts of the secret panel, and the magazine front pieces. The pieces I used were millimeters too short, but once constructed and in place, they are invisible.

Once the shelf backs were in place, I attached the magnetic clasp and hinge to the base unit, then attached the secret panel to my unit. I left off a back piece all together (as I had intended to) which allowed access to screw the hinge and clasp in place.

The unit shown here on my kitchen counter shows that even though I currently only need to access the unit from one side at the moment, I created the hinged secret compartment on both sides, to allow access from the other side should it be required in the future. The unit was then sanded and coated in a clear gloss to prevent moisture damage from the bathroom environment. Speaking of which...

Step 3: In Place in the Smallest Space

Once complete, I placed the unit so the door just misses the unit when it swings, and when the secret compartment is open it doesn't hit anything.

The secret compartment is large enough to hold 4 rolls of paper wide, and 5 rolls high, meaning that I've got plenty of storage space for paper, and reading materials.

Constructed in one day. Completed in one day, with the greatest of ease. I am VERY happy with the end result and it's capabilities and capacity.

However, there is a word of warning to this tale...

Step 4: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

I created this unit in less than 5 hours (without counting drying time), and was wearing eye protection, ear protection, full length pants, steel capped shoes, a hat and work gloves, but neglected one important facet.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you; wear sunscreen.

I live in one of the hottest and most arid countries in the world, and simply forgot to apply this miracle cream before starting work outside. 5 hours of exposure left me with 3rd degree burns, which blistered and required medical treatment. So, once again, SUNSCREEN!

Happy Building.

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