How To Make a Book Safe
How to Make a Book Safe
A hollowed-out book is a clever place to hide valuables. It's easy to make yours one-of-a-kind with a personalized book choice, although you probably want to pick something beautiful rather than a great read. This project takes a couple hours of work for a medium-sized hardcover, plus a few hours to allow for drying time. Power tools can speed this up considerably and unlock more designs.
Gluing the Pages Together
Select a hardcover book.If you don't want to damage any of your own, antique stores often sell unwanted old books for next to nothing. Make sure the book is thick and wide enough to store the objects you plan to hide.
- The book that makes the best hiding spot has a similar subject matter and size as the other books on the shelf. A boring title also helps deter people from picking it up.
Choose a starting page for the compartment.Flip through the book and choose the page you'd like to see on the left hand side, opposite your compartment. People often choose an illustration near the front of the book.
- If you want a larger compartment, you can plan to start cutting at page 1 and just leave the front cover.
Turn one additional page.Once you've chosen the starting page, turn thenextpage over to the left. You'll end up cutting this page eventually, but since it will be the top page of your compartment, it needs extra attention later on to keep it looking nice.
Wrap the front section in plastic.Using plastic wrap or a plastic bag, wrap the front cover along with all the pages on the left hand side. Hold it in place with tape or a loose rubber band. This will protect these pages from glue.
Wrap the back cover in plastic as well.The back cover will be the base of your compartment. Once you're sure both ends of the book are fully covered, you can shut the book.
- If you like, you may repeat the steps above and choose an "end page" for the compartment as well, but this often looks messy by the time the project is done.
Mix a little water into a container of white glue (recommended).You can use plain white glue, but it's usually a little too thick to spread easily. Pour the glue into a cup and mix in a little water at a time, until it's slightly runny (usually around 80% glue / 20% water).Don't overdo it, as too much water may cause the pages to warp.
- If you want to bypass these problems, visit a hobby shop and purchase glue intended for jigsaw puzzles.This should dry clear without warping.
Glue the sides of the pages together.Brush on one or two thin layers of glue along the outside pages of the book, on all three edges. Check thoroughly for drips before you continue, and wipe them away with the paintbrush.
- If the coat of glue is too thick, it will take longer to dry and may add bubbles and lumps to the pages.
Weigh down the book until the glue is dry.Place the book on newspaper and set several heavy objects on top of it, such as paperweights or other books. This pressure will help the pages dry together with minimal warping. Retrieve the book once the pages are firmly dried together. This can take as little as one hour, or as long as 24 hours in cool, humid conditions.
- If the pages are not firmly stuck together by the time the glue is dry, brush on another thin coat and let dry.
- Good air circulation will speed up drying. Try pointing a fan so it blows across the drying paper. An air purifier is even better if you happen to have one, as it also removes some of the mold spores that attack old or wet books.
Cutting the Compartment
Draw the secret compartment.Open the book to the first piece of plastic. On the right hand page, draw the rectangular outline of the compartment with a pencil and ruler. Work in long, straight lines, and leave a border at least ¾ inch (19 mm) on all sides to prevent tears.
- Extend each line past the corners of the compartment. This will help guide your cuts.
Cut through the outline with a utility knife.Place the ruler along one of the lines you drew. Hold a sharp utility knife alongside the ruler, at a 90º angle from the paper. Start about ½ inch (1.25 cm) outside of the rectangle, and bring the knife down along the line pressing down hard. Repeat this cut along the same line about four times, then cut all other sides of the compartment the same way.
- Be patient. Don't try to cut through more than ¼ inch (6mm) at a time. Rushing will create jagged edges and increase the risk of cutting yourself.
Remove loose pages and continue cutting.Carefully tug out the cut paper, slicing through any corners that are still attached. Continue cutting down along the edges of the compartment, keeping it as straight as possible. Repeat until you reach the piece of plastic at the back of the book.
- A typical hardcover book typically blunts three or four utility knife blades.Put in a new one each time cutting becomes difficult, or this project will take all night.
- Put a piece of corrugated cardboard above the plastic to prevent you from cutting through by accident.
Clean up the edges.Tug or slice off any scraps of paper along the inside edges of the compartment. Cut through the corners again if you need to; they usually get pretty messy.
Glue the inside of the compartment.Apply the same diluted glue to the inside edges of the compartment. Just use a thin layer, and wipe up any glue that runs to the base of the hiding spot.
Glue the top page over the compartment.Remember that extra page you saved at the beginning? Take it out of the plastic and glue this page over the top of the compartment, carefully lining it up with the page beneath it. This covers up the pencil marks and cut marks.
- To line it up exactly, start by lowering the edge next to the spine of the book, and smooth it down with your palm.
Glue the compartment to the base of the book.Unwrap the back cover and any pages you were saving. Lift the compartment and brush glue onto the underside, then press it down over the base of the book.
- For a fancier-looking compartment, glue something decorative to the base first. Try a square of felt, or an illustrated page from the book.
Weight down and let dry.Since the wet glue is not exposed to the air this time, it may take several hours longer to dry than the outside did.
Cut out the top page.You don't want your compartment covered, of course. Cut out a rectangle in that single page so it matches the pages beneath it. Now your book safe is ready to hold your treasures.
Extras: Paperbacks, Intricate Designs, and Power Tools
Use the nail down method for paperbacks and extra thick books.Gluing the pages together before cutting keeps them steady, but this makes deep cuts awkward and still doesn't hold a paperback in place all that well. Try this method instead for these projects:
- Take two small pieces of fiberboard (or any similar scrap board) and sandwich the pages you plan to cut between them.
- Hammer four finishing nails through the top board and most of the pages, almost to the bottom board.
- Cut through the first layer of pages as usual and rip them out.
- Turn the top board and hollowed-out pages over and secure with a weight or rubber band.
- Repeat to cut through the rest of the book. The nails hold the pages in place, and turning the completed pages over improves your access to each fresh page.
Cut with a scroll saw for intricate designs.Use the "nail down" approach described above to hold the pages steady. Trace a design on the board — as intricate as you like — and cut through from one board to the other using a scroll saw. Preferably, use a blade with a relatively low number of teeth per inch.If you reach a turn too sharp for the scroll saw, withdraw the saw and start again from an additional pilot hole.
- Book dust, especially from old musty books, can cause allergic reactions, breathing problems, and infections.Wear a respirator mask while cutting and work in a well-ventilated area.
- A dremel doesn't give you the same level of control, but it can speed up cutting the rectangle in the basic method above.
Punch out paper quickly with a hole saw.Drill a hole through a piece of lumber using a hole saw. Clamp this over the pages you want to cut, with a solid piece of lumber on the other side. Drill a hole through the page, then use that hole as a guide for your hole saw. This will cut through the circle rapidly, although you do need to stop frequently to remove paper from the saw and allow it to cool down.
- This is the fastest option available, but you are limited by the shape of your hole saw. You can create larger patterns in different shapes by shifting the lumber to a different spot on the page and cutting additional, overlapping circles.
QuestionCan I use a book safe to hide a journal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSure! You will need to make sure the book for the book safe is large enough to hide the journal though.Thanks!
QuestionI don't understand. Do I glue each page together?MollysteffensCommunity AnswerYou can, but it's simpler to just paint the glue on the edges of the pages.Thanks!
- To make a paper piggy bank, cut a coin slot anywhere on the book, leading to the compartment.
Video: Make a Book with a Secret Compartment 📕
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