Make a secret compartment book

In the latest episode of the Make Weekend Projects video podcast, Bre Pettis shows how to make a secret compartment book. Link


  1. i’ve always wondered how to do this. (you’d think i would’ve figured something out on my own because it’s incredibly simple…but i’m just not a technical thinker that way. however, you need a daydream story about a go-kart made of jello….i’m your man).

    so, thanks for posting this….very cool. and since i tend to be a cheap (but honest and lovable) bastard around the holidays, this has come at just the right time as i hadn’t started my shopping yet. and now, i won’t need to.

  2. Damn, I think my message board Secret Santee is getting one of these with a gift inside. I’ve thought about doing this before, ever since I saw one on Salute Your Shorts all those years ago, but I’ve always been too lazy and didn’t have a reason. Now I just need to find a crap book! Has Jack Thompson written anything?

  3. I just made one a couple days ago. I really like it! One trick I recommend: Use a drill to drill four holes in the corners of your cut-outs (after you’ve glued it). That makes cutting out the rectangles much easier and cleaner!

  4. Until I saw the second comment, I had a hard time believing anyone couldn’t figure out how to do this on their own. I stand corrected!

  5. yeah dave x…making stuff (even simple stuff) just isn’t my thing. i was one of those kids who colored outside of the lines, even when i was trying desperately not to.

    put me on stage in front of a crowd and i’ll be just fine. put me in front of a hammer and nails, and i’ll be in the hospital in under an hour.

    put me in front of a pretty girl, and i’ll feign death until she walks away. how are you supposed to talk to those things anyway?

  6. Definitely not recommended for use with the TSA if the electronics are inside. Actually, I wouldn’t even want to explain the hollow book to that group.

  7. This is such a cool idea and so retro – why does it remind me of film noire and the Maltese Falcon??? And I love the idea of doing it for Christmas presents – you won’t find this in a mall!!!

  8. I can speak from experience that teenagers LOVE this project. We made them at the school I work for and the kids went nuts for them. We used old encyclopedias that were being discarded as they were nice and thick with very sturdy spines/covers. I’d really recommend you use something sturdier for cutting than an exacto though. A heavy box cutter worked really well for us.

    And yeah, we had LOTS of adult supervision. The only injury was a teacher who cut her finger while jabbering.

  9. I did this last year when I wanted to surprise my girlfriend with an iPod (hidden inside an Info Architecture book). The girlfriend (and iPod) are long gone – but the knowledge remains.

    Don’t use a book that’s too thick. The one in the video is a good size. A 600 page tech manual isn’t (because the pages don’t line up strait enough to cut easily). Drilling the holes is a great tip because cutting the pages (accurately) is the most time consuming part.

  10. i was a crying tammy faye baker for halloween this year, and i hollowed out a bible and put a pack of virginia slims lites in there. it was the best part of my costume.

  11. When I made this awhile back I used some tiny rare earth magnets and a metal strip to keep it closed. I cut two small holes in the glued together pages portion for the magnets. For the metal strip I peeled apart the paper on the inside cover and glued a thin metal strip there and resealed the cover.

    Haha I hope all that made sense. It really helps keep the book shut if it’s being tossed around (I was backpacking).

  12. This doesn’t work. I used to work peripheral to law enforcement. Stuff put in fridge, on the bookshelf or near the bedroom dresser all get stolen.
    My Mom told me she had a hide, not even mentioning it was a book. It took me less than 30 seconds to find it. Biggest problem, books bought at garage sales look different than what else you buy. Make sure it was a popular book at one time or put a popular dust cover on it. Still, crooks simply dump the book shelf over.
    They will also empty the bedroom drawers and shake all the fridge contents.
    Try a relatively flat box. Attach two straps under a chair or couch. Make sure it is not visible. Under NO circumstances tell your friends. It makes interesting conversation and spreads eventually to bad ears. Almost all burglary comes from people you brought into your world. The good kids your kid brought into your house talk abut what they saw at a party to bad kids.

  13. I would definitely advise against taking any hollow book on a plane, even when it’s empty.
    A friend of mine once got taken out of line on Heathrow, into the lower bowels where the baggage lines run. The Police asked him to identify his bag and he did. They searched his bag until they found his plastich first aid box. Then they were releaved and said that the X-ray suggested that he had a hollow book in his bag, and he could go on his way again.

    So they will spot you, and waste your time.

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