HOWTO make a multi-book secret stash

Here's a great Instructables for hiding a stash-box behind a wall of cut-away books. In some ways, it's a lot less fiddly than creating a single hollow book, though it does require you to use a scroll saw.

1. The height and depth of the books are the important dimensions of the book. The size of the cover is what limits storage space. Since you are using multiple books, the thickness of each one doesn't matter.

2. The books do not need to be the same size, but it is convenient if they are. Sets of reference books like encyclopedias work well because they are all the same and it is a reasonable excuse to have a bunch of large books all in one spot on the book shelf.

3. Hardback books hold their shape better than paperbacks do after being cut up.

4. The secret compartment only remains a secret as long as no one tries to read any of the books. So it helps if the book are relatively uninteresting while still looking like something that you would have on your shelf.

Multi-Book Secret Storage Compartment by DIYHacksAndHowTos (via Make)


  1. OH MY GOD! He destroyed that Time Life Nature Library set! I’ve had that set since childhood, and it’s one of my prize possessions! OH MY GOD, NO!

    1. First they came for the Time-Life Nature Library,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a naturist.
      Then they came for the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an idiot.

      1. Hey now! The RDCB make a great background when conducting remote television interviews.

    2. My first thought too! I could not even scroll to see this sacrilege! 

      If I saw those on a bookshelf they would be the FIRST thing I’d leaf through.

    3.  I agree 100%, it was really sad to see those books destroyed. I am telling myself they must have been water damaged or something and we just couldn’t see it.

    4. I think you’d be better off doing this project with an old set of Funk & Wagnall’s encyclopedia. Lot’s more space to play with. And who’d want to mess with them. Other than perhaps someone getting nostalgic about ‘Laugh-In’.

  2. I know, I have ’em too!

    The layout, photography, design, stock materials and bold, retro impact of this set are exemplary, and worth presevering.  Second only to “Man, Myth & Magic.”  You’ve destroyed a lovely artifact that will never be reproduced for a hidey-hole of base, transitory vice.  You really should have used a set of creationist textbooks instead.

    The book selection has the other distinct disadvantage that someone will likely visit your house, and say “oh cool, you have Early Man, I had that as a kid!”  And when pulling it from the shelf say “waaaait a minit, is this your sex toy stash?” 

    Moral #1:  Don’t hide anything in plain sight, especially when it’s disguised by something eye-catching and begging to be grabbed off a shelf.
    Moral #2:  Don’t destroy good books.  You’re worse than silverfish.

    1. Here’s a secret: hundreds of thousands of good books are pulped every day by publishers. Relax. At last count, there were eight hundred and sixty three billion copies of the Time-Life books floating through the used bookstores of the world.

  3. Destroying books to make a hiding place for dope, cash or whatever is simply barbaric. Besides, I’d be the first to try to take one of those Time-Life Nature books off the shelf. The Time Life Nature and Science Library are a dated but still interesting and informative series.

    1. Interesting.  As a guest, I’d never simply pull a book from the hosts shelves. And as a burglar, I’d go for the obvious things first.

      Obvious being whatever local police advises not to use as a hiding place. 

      1. As a guest, I’d never simply pull a book from the hosts shelves.

        If I didn’t want my guests looking at my books, I wouldn’t put them in my living room.

        1. You assume that everyone *has* a separate living room.  Or so few books (or so many spare rooms) that he or she can afford to keep the living room free of books.

          I actually have my  books in storage or in my study and, of course, on an e-reader.

          1. I have stacks of books on the hearth and most of the living room furniture.

  4. I was going to post an anguished comment about how I grew up reading and re-reading my parents’ set of these books and how horrified I was at such cavalier disregard for them. But (a) everybody else got there first, and (b) I have to admit that my parents’ set is now in a couple of stacks under our wood-slat bedframe helping to support it.

    Yes, I love my Time-Life Nature Library so much I sleep on it every night.

  5.  “it helps if the book are relatively uninteresting”

    epic fail.

    In fact, almost any book set that you put out on display on a mantel, with cool bronze bear bookends, will attract attention. For many people, the first thing to do is to check out the books in any house they visit. Well, at least one person. Put the books in a closet, or propping up a bedframe, and then you have a better chance of having them be obscure.

  6. Isn’t it pretty standard in movies where the bad guys pull every individual book off the shelf and fan the pages to see what drops out?

    1.  Shit, I did that with MY books and found sundry things and two hundred pounds I’d overlooked from a brief foray into, ahem, ‘working from home’.

  7. I have a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia that I think would be perfect for this. Especially if I had any sex toys to stash. Maybe I could throw in a fake crack rock, or a mysteriously bloodied lock of hair.

    He who finds, deserves.

    1. For that matter, I bet The Da Vinci Code is thick enough to stash something. Maybe a little framed picture of goatse.

  8. My brother sent this to me and our other brother. Our father, John R. Martinez, was an Art Director for Time-Life books. We had nearly all of the book series and records Time-Life published. Our father died several years ago but I’m sure he’d be gratified to hear the fondness with which many people remember them.

    Thank you.

    Neil Martinez

    1. Please add me to the list of people who love my Time-Life books from the time your dad was Art Director. He touched and improved countless lives with his work and continues to do so today.

    2. Those books were a pure treat for a kid like me who always wanted to know MORE. I used to hang out with the kids across the street so I could read them and the Legion of Super Heroes.

    3. I wish I could have met your father to shake his hand and tell him how his design sensibility had a profound impact on my own. 

    4. I’d like to add my appreciation for your father’s work on the Time-Life books. The graphics in the Science library books are still the most informative and clear I’ve seen. I recommend The Cell to anyone wanting a good introduction to cell biology.

    5. Happy to hear from you! I have my Nature set right here with me. One of my favorite things about the design are the back covers. Each is a unique uniform color, with an identifying icon dead center. Nothing else. Very elegant. These icons would be right at home on a smart phone, and I’ve often told myself I should scan them.

    6. I need to clarify that my father worked in the books division but was not the AD on this series. He designed the “This Fabulous Century” series as well as others.

  9. File this under one of the cute ideas that BB likes to highlight that doesn’t really work in real life. 

    1.  n.b. if you only have one eye, some other depth-perception tools may be required, such as a stick. Please exercise caution with sticks; do not damage remaining eye.

  10. I’ve never had an opportunity to admit this, but I cannot give up my Life Science Library volume called TIME. I have it right here in front of me. It was such a hard subject for them to do, it fascinated me as a child and fascinates me still. I also kept MATTER for its pictures of the elements and a couple other volumes.

  11.  In the pre-internet era, Man Myth & Magic was the vector for a curious young person to delve into some really esoteric stuff…

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