I wanted to create a secret stash place for our passports, etc. that can be readily accessible yet hidden at the same time. I've seen secret stash compartments in books, electronics, and various other places that seem all too common. I wanted to create a place where a thief wouldn't look consider looking first. Our Amish coffee table seemed to fit the spot I had in mind. I'm disappointed that the cabinet magnets I bought aren't strong enough to hold up the compartment. A simple nail in a hole holds the pocket up and out of sight.
Step 1: Supplies
First, I cannot stress how important a decent pair of safety glasses are. Getting something in your eye while pushing a board through a table saw is just asking to lose a finger or two. Please get a pair and use them!
Having said this, I also purchased a pair of hinges and magnetic cabinet latches. The magnetic latches aren't needed. More about them later. The hinges set me back about $3.
The 4'x4' piece of 1/4" press board didn't fit into my woman's Hyundai trunk without breaking off a section first. I knew I should have brought the minivan! No matter, I used the broken section anyway. About $5 for the wood.
Other things I used I had on hand:
Table saw, wood glue, a drill, weights, clamps, screwdriver, tape measure, pencils, and wood scraps. Did I mention safety glasses?
Step 2: Measure Twice, Cut Once, and Add a Lot of Glue
After measuring the opening inside the table, I cut the wood to fit and give clearance to the (useless) magnetic latches. As the wood was so incredibly flimsy, I doubled the thickness and glued the sections together. 4 hours under the weight of ,...weights.. I was ready to proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Create a Pocket
Using the broken piece, I measured and cut a piece that will hold my stuff in place when I drop it down from the table. A scrap piece of 2" x 4" I ripped down to size, as the depth of the table space isn't more than 3 inches. I drilled a hole for my finger to fit in, so when the magnets (HA HA) held the pocket shelf up, my finger could pull it down. More gluing and waiting.
Step 4: After This, Redo That
I really wanted to skip over the magnetic latches, but they were a part of the project from the get-go. I know how strong earth magnets are, and I asked at Lowes and Menards if they carried them. They obviously don't, but I foolishly believed the ones I bought would work anyway.
After considering which way the hinges should mount, so the pocket would drop down correctly, I added them. After attaching the whole thing to the table, I was in for a shock. It wouldn't close! The pocket, aligned with the shelf face, came into contact with the underside of the table, stopping it from going up inside. I forgot to do my geometry on this one! So carefully prying the sections apart again (I didn't use a LOT of glue) I moved the pocket in a half inch. This allowed the whole assembly to swing up into place.
Step 5: So Add a Nail and Call It Finished.
After smacking my forehead, I simply drilled a tiny hole and added a nail to hold the pocket shelf up into place. It easily pulls out and I can put it back in without having to look underneath for the hole. I can easily find it within seconds.
So now our passports and what-have-you can be accessed quickly while evading detection from prying eyes.