About: getting started

When I saw that there is a "hiding places contest" on the instructable website my first associations were all about magic tricks, because that’s what magicians do: They want us to believe that they make something disappear while in reality it’s only hidden.

Inspired by the movie "Now you see me", I decided to make a simple box where a mirror is placed at an angle of 45° to make the box look empty.

Take a closer look!

Step 1: Planning and Calculating

The idea is to present the reflexion of the mirror as the back of the box. In order to avoid distortions the mirror has to be placed at an angle of 45° (as shown in the picture). So when we assume to see the end of the box we actually see a reflexion of the bottom, while the hidden place is behind the mirror and remains unseen.

Regarding the measures, feel free to dimension your box as you want.

Tip: If the box is deeper than its length and width, the mirror is even less recognizable.

Here are the measures I used:

  • The whole box from the outside: 30cm x 15,9cm x 30cm
  • Ground and top: 30cm x 30cm
  • Sides: 30cm x 12,3cm
  • Back: 12,3cm x 12,3cm

The wood I used was 18 mm thick which leads to an internal space of 12,3cm x 12,3cm x 28,2cm and according to the theorem of Pythagoras, the size of the mirrors have to be 12,3cm x 17,4cm.

Step 2: Material and Tools

  • wood
  • mirror
  • wood glue
  • sandpaper
  • wood stain
  • magnets
  • superglue
  • gloss varnish
  • glass cutter
  • screwdriver
  • hammer

Step 3: Preparing Wood and Mirror

I had the wood cut in the store. Afterwards I used sandpaper to make the surface smooth.

Cutting the mirror however was a little bit more complicating, I used a glass cutter. Before I worked on the mirror I tried out the glass cutter several times on tiles and pieces of glass.

Tip: Put a drop of oil on the edge of the glass cutter in order to improve the cutting result.

Step 4: Engraving a Quote

Let’s leave a message for those who couldn’t be deceived. On the inner side of the back of the box I engraved a quote by using a hammer and a screwdriver.

Step 5: Further Preparation of the Wood

This step is basically to make the box look better. I personally prefer using wood stain because it keeps the natural look of the wood.

Afterwards I used a transparent spraying varnish which made it a little bit glossy.

Tip: Using a very fine sandpaper before and after the staining and varnishing improves the result.

Step 6: Perfecting the Illusion

Although the mirror reflects the bottom of the box thus creating a nearly perfect illusion, the edge of the mirror is clearly visible. My idea was to distract the viewer by painting the edge of the mirror brown and drawing brown lines on all inner sides in such a way that it creates in combination with the edge of the mirror a pattern. This would avoid any suspicions on the viewer’s side.

Step 7: Implementing the Mirror

In order to reach the hiding place I had to find a way to make the mirror movable. Therefore I used magnets. Unfortunately, my magnets were very weak, which forced me to put magnets on both sides.

Additionally, I put a plastic strip to get hold of the mirror when moving it.

Step 8: Putting It All Together

Finally all parts of the box are ready to be glued together. I started with the ground and the left side. The pictures show every single stage.

Tip: While you glue the middle side of the box, put the mirror on its place and make sure that it has enough space to be moved smoothly.

Step 9: Testing and Finishing

Now the box can be tested. I stained and varnished the outside of the box once again. For now, I placed it on my dresser, but I am probably going to extend it to a little nightstand.

I hope you like my project.

Please comment and vote! :)

Hiding Places Contest 2017

First Prize in the
Hiding Places Contest 2017



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    10 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Very clever idea!


    1 year ago

    Well done 007. Now give Miss Moneypenny her cosmetic mirror back if you please.

    1 reply

    These are really fun. My son has a coin bank that has one of these hidden compartments.