Introduction: Make It - Secret Compartment Frame


If you ever get the chance to own limited edition DiResta… you do it. It doesn't matter what it is, just do it. Jimmy recently restored a century old painting press and made the first 100 prints off that machine available for purchase, signed and numbered. They sold out very quickly and thankfully I was able to get one. I got print 12/100.

Since secret compartments have become my thing in these parts, I figured the only way to do this print justice was to build a picture frame with a secret compartment to hold my one of my many other Jimmy DiResta items. The icepick!

Check out the video if you don't like reading and just want to see the thing come to life. Links to everything I used in the video description.

Step 1: Wood Preperation and Cutting Half Lap Joints

I started with a rather ornery piece of Sapele. The board wanted to bow inwards on the table saw for the initial cut and was pinching the blade hard enough to slow it down. Thats a sure way to get a nasty kick back so I immediately shut the saw down and pried the board apart by hammering a wooden wedge into the cut. Surprisingly after this initial flexing, the wood was incredibly stable.

Once I had the wood squarely dimensioned, I cut the four sides of the frame down to size with the help of my table saw sled. I tape the top and bottom as well as the two sides together before doing a final pass over the blade to ensure they are exactly the same size. I mark out my cut lines with a marking gauge and use a flat top grind blade in the table saw to cut away the excess material for the half lap joints.

Step 2: Modifying the Frame for a Secret Compartment

I picked one of the side pieces for the secret compartment and drilled two 1/4” holes through the back of it before slicing off the front face on the bandsaw with a smooth cutting resaw blade. Drilling the holes before cutting ensures the placement of the holes will be perfect.

I used wooden dowels to temporarily reattach the front face and cut a groove on the inside edge of each board on the router table. This required a plunge cut on the router table which can be dangerous. I used a very sharp bit, took little bites and had one hell of a tight grip on the wood. This groove is where the glass and print with sit when the frame is assembled.

Step 3: Gluing the Frame Together and Creating the Secret Compartment.

I waxed the edges of the removable front face so as not to accidentally glue it into the frame permanently and glued/clamped the entire frame together. When the glue had cured, I cut an odd looking pocket into the frame that will hold the icepick on the CNC router. I cut two identical 1/4” brass pins that got hammered into the holds and hold the front face in place.

Step 4: Finishing the Wood and Cutting the Glass

The front face was slightly lower than the rest of the frame but since the kerf on the bandsaw blade is so thin, I was able to sand down the difference on the rest of the frame.

The entire frame received a coat of Briwax to bring out the beautiful grain of the wood.

I cut the 1/8" glass using a cheap steel wheel glass cutter -

Step 5: Final Assembly

I sandwiched the print between two pieces of glass so the print can be seen from both sides of the frame. To hold the glass in place, I cut some small points out of scrap brass. I bent the back side 90 degrees so I could grab them with a pair of plyers and pushed them firmly into the wood.

Step 6: Hang and Enjoy!

All done! Check out the build video to see the whole thing come to life in a few minutes!

Glue Challenge 2016

Participated in the
Glue Challenge 2016

Dorm Hacks Contest 2016

Participated in the
Dorm Hacks Contest 2016