Introduction: Shelf With Secret Compartment

About: I enjoy simple DIY projects and enjoy sharing them with others. I'm 33 and I am a sheet metal worker by trade. I really enjoy remodeling and making things. I'm married and have two wonderful children.

I recently came across a secret compartment shelf on Cabela's website. I thought it was a pretty neat concept but the price was a bit too high for what it really is...they are asking $199.99 for it. So I did some searching and there is another company that makes these, a little more elaborate, but nonetheless, too pricey...$399.99.

I went to the local hardware store and picked up all the materials for just under $50.00. So here's how I made this shelving unit. Here is the YouTube video on how I made it if you don't feel like reading:

Materials I Used:

  • 1 - 1"x6"x8' Oak Board
  • 1 - Piece Crown Moulding (8 Footer)
  • 1 - Piece Cap Moulding (8 Footer)
  • 1 - Lock Set
  • 1 - 12" Chain
  • 2 - Small Hinges
  • Wood Glue
  • Brad Nails

Tools I Used:

  • Brad Nailer and Air Compressor
  • Clamps
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Router
  • Sander
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape Measure

Step 1: Step 1: Bottom & Top

Using your 8' flat oak board cut (2) pieces with your miter saw at 12" and (2) pieces at 15". Then with your table saw rip (1) of the 12" pieces down to 1 1/2".

Step 2: Step 2: Glue / Square / Sand

Glue up the (2) 12" pieces together and glue the (2) 15" pieces together. Take a look at the pictures above to get an idea as to how I glued them. I really like using this method as it really seems to work well. The pieces seem to always stay flat when I use this method. Whereas other methods I've used, the boards seem to cup slightly and then I have to use a planer to get them flat.

After the glue sets up, square up both ends on both pieces with your table saw and then sand the seams. After adjoining the pieces together it looks like one wide board. Seam was unnoticable!

Step 3: Step 3: Router

Taking your bottom piece (which is the 12" board) and a small piece of the crown moulding, flush out the top side of the bottom of your crown with with top side of the bottom board (see picture above for reference). And with a sharp pencil, make a mark where the crown will sit on the face of the board. This will be the depth you will set your router bit to. After setting the router go ahead and router the bottom of the board. Make sure you router the right sides! Picture above for reference also.

Step 4: Step 4: Add Crown Moulding

Now it's time to attach the crown to the bottom. If you have any questions about how to cut crown, my video explains it. I cut the front piece first first and then cut the two sides afterwards. Every piece was glued and then brad nailed. Take your time to make sure the crown lines up nicely.

Step 5: Step 5: Top

Cut your top piece down so that there is a 1/4" reveal around the crown. This is for the cap moulding, which is 1/4" on the bottom. This will give the shelf a nice flow from the top and bottom pieces. Again, I cut the front piece first and then cut the two sides after. The cap was also glued and nailed.

Step 6: Step 6: Hinge Block and Hinges

Line up the top and bottom exactly where you want them to sit and flip the shelf upside down. Get a measurement for your height and width. Cut this piece and center it on the top. Make a couple marks as to where you like it sitting and then apply glue to the hinge block, clamp it down and then put a few brad nails in it. Wipe off the excess glue.

Then come in about an inch or so on each end and set your hinges on the hinge block. Mark out the holes and then pre-drill them. I used my Dremel with a 1/16" wood carving bit. This worked out well as long as I kept the Dremel at a 90 degree angle and kept it very still. Then I attached the hinges with the screws they came with and did this by hand.

After the hinges were attached to the block I repositioned the bottom piece and marked out the holes for the hinges in the same fashion.

Step 7: Step 7: Mount the Lock

This may be completely different for everyone depending on the lock that you decide to buy. I just bought a cheapo from Menards that was like $3.27 or something. I followed the instructions...sort of.

This lock was made for 1/2" material or less so I had to improvise. I found center and came in approximately 3/4". I drilled about 3/8" down using a spade bit which was 1 1/8". Then I finished drilling the rest of the way using a 3/4" bit. I assembled the lock following the manufacturer's instructions. This lock did not come with a latch so I had to make one with the other piece that was in the lock package. There was two different styles I could have used. Sooooo, I used the longer piece to make the latch.

To bend this, I figured the height I needed at transfered that to the piece. Then I broke the 90 degree angles with a couple pliers, a hammer, and another piece of metal. Then I drilled some 1/8" holes in it so that I could secure this to the top of the shelf. After a few tweaks here and there, I finally got it to work out just right.

Step 8: Step 8: Finishing Touches

After the lock is installed there are some finishing touches to do. First of all, I filled in every brad nail with a mixture of wood glue and sawdust, let that dry and then I hand sanded it. Then I hand sanded everything with a sanding block (the trim work) and I sanded the top once again with 220 grit. I also added a drop chain. To do this I mounted the shelf on the wall in the garage and dropped the bottom to where I wanted it to stop. Took a quick measurement and then cut my chain so that it was at that measurement. After that was installed I stained it with a color called Jacobean and finished the stain with some polyurethane.

Total time on this project was about 6 was sort of a spur of the moment type thing with very minimal planning. So I'm guessing that a person could complete this with a total time spent of 4 to 5 hours. Overall I'm very satisfied with this project.

Hope everyone likes this project and has fun with it. Thanks for looking!

For this video check out:

And for other DIY videos check out my YouTube channel at:

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017