How to Make a Secret Book Safe

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 7, 2010 · 137 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

I love anything with secret compartments. From the big (secret passageways) to the small (a secret pocket in a jacket), there’s just something delightful about things that are hidden away.

Which is why I’ve always been drawn to book safes. They combine my love for secret compartments with my love for books. And they’re just a lot of fun.

Book safes are an age old way to stash one’s treasures–the key to a safe, a private document, a flask, a gun. And you can use them while traveling to hide your ipod, back up cash, or other valuables from would-be thieves. And of course if you end up wrongfully imprisoned, they work as an excellent place to stash a rock hammer for tunneling to freedom (salvation lies within!).

Not only are book safes fun to possess, they also make a cool, unique gift. If money is tight this year, consider making a few book safes for your friends or family. The supplies you need only cost a few bucks, and each will take you about 2.5 hours or so to create. Here’s a step by step rundown of how it’s done.

A side note: I know there will be people who cry foul at this project-arguing that cutting up a book like this is sacrilege. I personally don’t understand that kind of fetishization of books. Books are not intrinsically sacred. These are generally books that no one wants and will otherwise go to waste. You’re not destroying the book, you’re turning it into something else. There’s value either way.

1. Buy a Book. Head to your local used bookstore and pick one up. It doesn’t have to be fancy; they always have bargain books that you can snag for just a dollar or two. Personally, I love the look of vintage books, especially for a project like this. Of course if there’s a book on your shelf that you’re not fond of and wouldn’t mind hacking up, all the better.

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a book. First, consider what you’ll want to hide in it and how much time you’re willing to put into making it. Thick books will allow you to make a deeper cavity, but carving out that cavity will require more time. A thin book will hold less treasure, but necessitate less cutting time.

Second, choose a book that will fit in on your shelf. If you’ve got a shelf full of new mystery paperbacks, a large vintage medical textbook will look suspicious and out of place.

Finally, consider picking a book that people aren’t likely to pull off your shelf out of curiosity. Think The Economic History of Kazakhstan instead of The Secrets of Better Sex.

But if you’re giving the book safe as a gift, choose a volume that suits the personality and interests of the intended recipient. For Whom the Bell Tolls for Dad; Nancy Drew for little sis.

2. Gather Your Supplies. You’ll need:

  • a book
  • a box cutter
  • a brush
  • puzzle glue

You can also use regular glue mixed with water. I’ve seen the recommended glue/water ratio as 80/20 or 70/30. I’ve haven’t tried it myself, so you may want to experiment to get the ideal consistency. Too much water and you’ll warp the pages and book.

I also recommend grabbing a ruler to mark the outline of your secret compartment and a few extra blades for your box cutter. The blades get dull quickly and rotating and replacing them helps the cutting step go much quicker.

3. Mark off a few pages in the front. You don’t want to start carving out the secret compartment on the very first page. Leave a few pages in the front untouched, so the compartment is covered and the book looks normal when initially opened.

4. Wrap the cover with plastic bags. To keep glue off of the cover, wrap it with plastic bags. Stick one in-between the pages you marked off in the front and wrap it around the front cover. Then wrap another bag around the back cover.

5. Brush glue on the outside of the pages. Brush the glue on the outside of the pages all around the book. Put on a few layers, but make sure to smooth out any globs as they will dry white. Press the book firmly in your hand to keep the pages together as you glue them.

6. Place the book in a vice or under a weight. To cut down on warping, place the book in a vice or under a heavy weight such as several large books. The pressure will hold the pages together as the glue dries. Let the book dry for about an hour.

7. Draw the outline of your secret compartment. Using a ruler, trace an outline of the secret compartment on the first page of the glued together section of your book. It can be any size or shape you want, but leave at least a half an inch border all around it.

8. Cut out the secret compartment. Using your box cutter, cut along the outline of your secret compartment. Take it slow-don’t try to do too much at one time or you’ll end up with ragged edges. The hardest part is the corners; every now and then go back and clean them up.

This is the part of the project that takes the most time-so just put on some tunes and get in the zone. Rotate and replace the blade of the box cutter a few times in order to keep it sharp and efficient.

If you have one, you can also use a scroll saw to cut out the compartment, which obviously saves a ton of time and also allows you to make the compartment into more creative shapes.

9. Brush glue on the inside of the cut pages. You can also add another layer of glue to the outside of the cut pages if they look like they need it. Using puzzle glue, I didn’t need to.

10. Glue felt inside the secret compartment. This isn’t necessary but it’s a nice touch, especially if you’re giving the book as a gift. The felt covers up the ragged edges and gives it a finished look.

Now no one will steal my precious $2 bill and half dollar coins!

Have you ever made a book safe? Do you have any tips for variations and improvements? Share your comments with us!

{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris December 7, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Awesome! I always wanted to make one for my flask! haha!

2 Michael Lunsford December 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I made one of these when I was a kid and still have and love it.

One big thing I would re-emphasize is to “consider what you’ll put in it.” The one I made was just short of a dollar bill in width. Since I find myself using it to stash cash for a home grown Christmas Club Account, like the photo of the two-dollar-bill above, it doesn’t quite fit. If I had it to do over again, I’d make sure the space accommodated a crisp dollar bill. If you’re giving it as a gift, you might even make that dollar an initial deposit!

3 Lance December 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Funny the timing of this article, as I was planning to do just this after re-watching Rounders last night. I hadn’t thought of adding felt, nor gluing the outside pages…but both ideas may make it better.

4 Mike December 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

That is so cool. A great DIY gift idea! Thank you for sharing! ;)

5 Michael December 7, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I made one years ago. A Dremel used with a large grinding wheel makes quick work of the pages.

6 Dante December 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Love it! Will try it once I’ve figured out something to hide.

7 Andrew December 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Ok, I gotta say, hope it doesn’t offend, but I have a personal liking to old books (that aren’t easy to come by) and like to read them any chance I get. Not to say there aren’t books no one (including me) will ever want to read, but use discretion. (Particularly, if it is a history book, if at all possible, chose another one.)

That aside, this is one of the things I plan to do some day.

8 Michael December 7, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I added a bevel to the top layer of mine, and made a wood frame that fit into that bevel. I was then able to wrap the felt around the wood frame so that the edges couldn’t be seen, and there was a nice sharp (and square!) edge to the hole.

Of course, that was on the second one,which was for my brother. My first try at it was pretty jagged and ragged looking.

9 TR December 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I think an interesting idea would be if you have one of those encyclopedia volumes and don’t use them (I don’t know too many people that do, since now you can google anything), you could use one of them.

With the green cover in the picture, for a second there I thought you were using the Art of Manliness book.

10 Ohm Dave December 7, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Secret books are great. I made on a while ago and absolute love it. I use mine all the time to store money for small things i’m saving up for and to keep some semi-important things such as my Moleskine notebook. I used the big book of tell me why and found it to be great. Its very large, allowing a big, deep cavity. I didn’t think of giving it to someone as a gift, but i now know what my secret santa is getting this year haha.

11 Andrew December 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Again, I do actually like using the encyclopedias for things, because books are just plain different.
On the other hand, if you have a whole set on your shelf, who in the world will randomly look in THAT one to find your money or whatever?

12 Awesome Adam December 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Whoa I actually did this the other day! I didn’t glue or felt mine. I just started cutting away. My book still looks and moves like a regular book so even if you picked it up you’d have no clue based on the cover and edges of the pages…but of course you can’t judge a book by its cover…nor the edges of its pages

13 James December 7, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I made one of these years ago – it’s a lot of fun. To make cutting the pages easier, you can drill four holes through the paper. Just be sure not to go through the back cover.

14 Dean December 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm

This looks like a project I’ll have to take on soon. My first thought is I would hide my old .22 pistol in it. Now with a child running around thats out of the question. Chris has a great idea… hide my flask in it.

15 Mark Petersen December 7, 2010 at 11:20 pm

The felt liner is a nice touch. I’ve been wanting to make one for my mom and dad to keep a spare hand gun handy and the felt will help protect the weapon’s finish.

16 Michael Kowall December 7, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Growing up our home was broken into once and the only thing the thieves stole WAS my $2 bill collection. I needed a booksafe. Going to make one!

17 Don December 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Awesome! I now have a “recipe” for something I always wanted to make.

18 TSherry December 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

Great project. I made one of these for myself a few years ago. Fun and useful!

19 David Holtzman December 8, 2010 at 12:21 am

I gave away engraved pocket knives and book safes to my groomsmen when I got married in September. I didn’t make them myself, but they loved them. I still have one I received as a gift when I was 10 years old.

20 nate December 8, 2010 at 1:29 am

This is really cool and amusing as I made a couple of these back when I was thirteen! In fact I still have one I made out of an old badly beaten up book. Good stuff.

21 Tim December 8, 2010 at 1:36 am

That is an amazing idea, especially so close to Christmas! It was always cool seeing book-safes in movies and such, but making one sounds like a great project! Thanks for this article!

22 Paul December 8, 2010 at 2:53 am

These are correctly stated, Awesome. I will make another one of these, after the one I made as a boy to keep the £1 note my Great-Grandfather gave me in was thrown away by my mothers over-zealous cleaning regime! That’s the only downside, if people have no reverence for books (or their children’s property!) you may find it to have gone missing…

23 Matt December 8, 2010 at 3:58 am

Yet another example of why this is the best site on the net!

24 Ryan Grimm December 8, 2010 at 6:42 am

Having made several book safes over the years, I have a few suggestions:
1) I agree, pick a book that SHOULD be on the shelf, but one not likely to be picked out at random for reading. A once-popular book that is now out of fashion, with dust jacket, is a cheap and common type to have on the shelf. Have more than one, a single book by one author might seem suspicious. You may stack several books together to make a book VAULT, useful for larger objects. An entire row of them could be used to stash a survival rifle, for example.
2) flocking is a nice way to make the interior finish, and is relatively cheap once you get the supplies…flocking comes in colors, and you can actually mix them for custom colors.
3) Do NOT use a Bible or other sacred-type book, they are a common storage site. TOO common. I have no other objection to cutting them up, they are just books to me.
4) You CAN make locking book safes: you need to line the book with 1/4 inch ply, hinge the ply well using brass or steel hinges, and add a locking mechanism/camlock or equivalent. Then you may use it as storage for a pistol, etc. Epoxy/fibreglas lining makes it stronger.
You may even line the book with sheet steel, if you have the tools and experience. Experiment!
5) For obvious reasons, do not cut up rare books, they are worth far more as they are.

6) Do NOT expect the Booksafe to last in a fire! They are made of paper, after all. You MIGHT find a small fireproof box for documents etc., but finding a book(s) that it will fit in is problematic, and in all respects the box should be in a real safe or other secure place anyway.
7) Custom-fitting (French Lining) is easier than you think. Securely wrap the object in question in plastic wrap, place the object in the empty book safe, and inject foam-in-a-can insulation, a little bit at a time. Let expand fully, trim off excess, and detail the foam with felt, flocking or other finish.
When cured, you will have a close-fitting case that does not rattle when shaken or tapped on (no ‘hollow’ sound). You may find that if you line the case with felt, you’ll need to wrap the object with a layer or three of material to give room for the added foam and felt….try it, you’ll see what I mean.

If I might recommend a book, and I may have the title wrong:
“How to hide almost anything”, can’t remember the author’s name. He basically made up a sandwich sign that said “Do You Have Something To Hide?” with his phone # on it, and walked around in his town getting jobs making hiding places for people’s stuff. In the late 1970′s he was making shockingly good money doing very small jobs, starting at $100 IIRC. In the ’70′s! And cash, too!

25 Scott Wuerch December 8, 2010 at 6:44 am

My daughter has made a number of these.

Favorite tie…Lafayette Street Crest

26 Sean McBride December 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

It might be fun to use a book with a title that will draw curious people. Put something slightly inappropriate in a book like “The Secrets of Better Sex”. Whenever a Nosy Ned opens the book, they’ll find the object and be duly embarrassed. Hilarity will ensue.

27 Stephen December 8, 2010 at 7:49 am

It’s not fetishisation to think that hipsters randomly cutting up books to make something vintage has scope for something quite valuable to get mauled.

There are only so many “vintage” books in the world and some books are more significant than others.

28 Erin Garlock December 8, 2010 at 8:33 am

Save on cutting time by clamping the pages together with two thin pieces of wood. Drill a hole in a corner and use a jig saw. The wood will keep the pages from tearing. After you make the first book, the wood can all be clamped back in place to make more book safes – just use dimes or shims to reposition the cut out center pieces.

To save on gluing time, you can also use aluminum screw posts (aka Chicago screws). Just drill a hole through the wood in each corner and 1 or 2 in the middle of the page, and screw the pages together. Countersink pockets can be made in the cover if it’s a hard cover book, or with a few pages glued in the more traditional manner.

29 Robert December 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

My problem with book safes is that I don’t want to destroy a copy of that book. Imagine I made my dad a “For Whom the Bell Tolls” book safe, he loses a copy of that book. So he may have to have another copy, then some unknowing person will wonder why there are two copies of the same book and think they’re in the presence of someone like Jerry Fletcher.

On another note, I might just pick up a copy of “The Economic History of Kazakhstan” just to see what was up.

30 Cameron T. December 8, 2010 at 9:56 am

As a Bibliophile and a Library employee, I’m not too keen on cutting up books. However there certainly are a large number of common books out there for which the world would see no great loss.

My only plea: If you find a vintage book that you want to use for a booksafe, do some research before you take a saw to it. Check or to see how rare the book is and what kind of prices it might be going for. Something that you think may be worth nothing and that you bought for 25 cents could end up being a rare volume worth hundreds of dollars.

31 Marshall December 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Fun and useful product. Just a comment about the $2 that you are stashing away. The $2 bill is still in circulation. $2 bills can be obtained at any bank by just asking. It is more useful then a $1 bill , as single bills don’t buy as much today; so you can carry less bills with you. So please, do not hoard $2, use them. Thanks, and keep up the projects.

32 Eric December 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

What a great idea! My wife owns and runs a small used bookstore, and we are constantly overrun with unsellable book donations that end up as fire kindling or in a dumpster (and yes, many nice thick hardbacks that would be perfect for this project are unsellable). I think I will have her start setting aside a “book safe” pile, and I’ll start playing around w/ making these in my shop.

33 Gregory December 8, 2010 at 10:54 am

I am going to echo Andrew’s comment.
This is a neat thing to make, but please use caution when cutting up old books!
You are ruining a piece of history by doing this, so choose the book carefully.

34 Alex December 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

I made 2 pocket sized book safes when i was in college. They were the little green bibles that the local wacky preacher was passing out as he damned us all to hell. I did cut up a bible, so maybe he was right…

One was a cigarette case (even though i didn’t/don’t smoke) and the other held a deck of nude playing cards :-)

35 Rick December 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

i made one of these books and put my money in it.
someone stole the book :]

36 Daniel December 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

Another idea would be to add weights back into the book equal to the weight of the pages you took out. That way, if someone were to search, they wouldn’t find an encyclopedia weighing much less than expected.

37 Ryan December 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

The thing I love about the book safe is that it isn’t about what you are storing. It isn’t about the book. It’s that everyone thinks it’s just a book, but you know it’s not. The point is that it’s secret, not that it’s hiding something valuable.

38 jay sauser December 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Awesome idea for some cheap Christmas presents now! Thanks!

39 Erik December 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I’m sickened when someone burns a book, but think this is just fine.

Book burnings are meant to symbolize destruction of knowledge or a point of view.
With a book safe, you’re just putting an old book you’ll never read again to better use. There’s no evil intent there.

40 Matthew December 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Am so going to try this!!! I love this website. Keep up the great work!

41 Stephen December 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm


There is very rarely evil intent at book burnings. Quite often it is done to protect a vulnerable group of people — children, for example. What do you do if there’s a book teaching your children immoral things? Duh, throw it on the fire.

Fundamentally it’s dangerous to say “oh, those other people doing this thing are evil, but what I’m doing is fine because I’m not evil”. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying bout the the road to hell being paved with good intentions and all that.

42 Steven Masters December 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

This is the coolest idea for Christmas gifts! Thanks Brett!

43 Andrew Pike December 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Had one since I was 10, keep my secrets safe in my copy of Huckleberry Finn!

44 Andrew Turner December 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.

Dime a dozen, perfect specs, invisible.

45 Nathan December 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Another suggestion is to add leather or velcro straps inside your book safe to fasten the contents. Then shaking the book wouldn’t rattle the contents.

This posting is great. I love the whole site!

46 Dan P December 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Great gift idea here… something like this would’ve been great for the groomsmen at my wedding…

47 Sam December 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This is awesome! I’ve found my winter project. Thank you!

48 PHIL December 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

If it really pains you to cut up a book, why do you go on the internet at all? Should you not be reading newspapers and churning butter?

49 Drew December 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Have yet to find a book big enough to fit my Desert Eagle .50 cal, haha. Just joshing. But this is a really cool project. Will make a great gift too

50 Jake December 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Great gift idea. Don’t forget the ubiquitous dictionary. Every thrift store has a half dozen, they’re cheap and most households have more than one. Plus with the internet and word processors they are rarely used any more.

51 EmberLeo December 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm

When I did this I chose a nice old-fashioned leather book with a ribbon bookmark attached that happened to not have the title of the book anywhere on its cover. (I do think it’s important to choose a book the contents of which are still in print, because yes, I’m one of those people who treats books – or at least the knowledge they contain – as almost-sacred.)

I didn’t glue the pages together – it looks more natural if you don’t, and besides this book had slightly irregular outer edges which would have made it that much more obvious. What I did was make a frame that I could set into the book and use as my stencil for cutting out the pages, cut out most of the pages from about the second chapter through all but the last couple pages. Then I made a thin wooden box to fit right inside (if you already have a suitable little box, you could cut the hole to fit the box instead) and I glued the box into the inside of the hole, protecting the cover and pages I didn’t want to stick. I lined the inside of the box, but that isn’t entirely necessary.

Now, in this case, I wasn’t trying to make an innocuous book safe, so I didn’t pick a book that wouldn’t stand out. If I were really trying to hide things, I’d choose a well-worn book that I have a newer copy of for reading. Since I often wear through paperback books and get new copies, and I also often have two copies of a book, one for lending, this won’t look too weird on my bookshelf, and it’s not *too* hard to make the newer one more attractive to the curious.


52 Mike December 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm


53 Bearded Librarian December 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm

As a librarian . . . . blah, blah, blah. :) I actually own a few book safes that were constructed to look like a book but are in fact nothing of the sort. I may get a few blasphemous remarks, but I’m going to send this to our preservation and rare book librarians. As federal depository, we aren’t allowed to dispose of books without going through a mountain of steps, but it would be interesting to try this with some of the those books that are withdrawn.


54 Bruce Williamson December 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Now I know what to do with my copy of War & Peace! It’s a nice thick book so it can hold more secret stuff and NOBODY will bother to open and read it!

55 Mark December 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I’m actually making one of these right now because of this post. Gonna give it as a gift with a flask in it!

I went to an antique store and found a book for $6 called “The World is Flat”!

56 Matthew Miller December 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I did this not too long ago. Hopefully no one has need to go looking through an outdated World Encyclopedia on things that start with F.

57 Terry Byrnes December 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I like the patterned ties,

58 Philip Moon December 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Why stop at book safe as the gift? Why not take the book and make it a gift box for something else. Possibly an eBook reader.

59 Arden Sedlins December 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I plan on pinching the idea from the film ‘The Invisible’, where the protagonist used a copy of Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22′ as a book safe. I might even make a few more in the guise of other ‘on the nose’ books, such as Frank Abagnale Jr’s autobiography ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ by Patricia Highsmith.

60 Louis December 9, 2010 at 4:14 am

Why not just stick the money between the pages of a regular book? Seems just as secure, and saves a lot of effort.

61 Red December 9, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Thanks! Too bad I didn’t know this back when I use to hide my porn on VHS.

62 Sam T December 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Use a wood chisel instead of a box cutter.
It makes cleaner edges, it’s much faster, and they’re cheaper than a scroll saw. It does limit the shape you can cut, but with different size chisels you can make up for this.

63 Paul December 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Too cool. I am going to do this soon.

64 Christina H. December 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Sweet!!!!!! I’ve been looking for AWESOME ideas and this is perfect! I was gonna try to learn how to knit b4 christmas, but you guys just bought me another year to perfect my knitting! LOL! LOVE it!

65 O'Reilly December 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Nice article Brett. If I ever rob your house, I know exactly where to find your pot stash. lol

66 Carter December 10, 2010 at 11:04 am

Thanks for the instructions, I have seen this idea a few other places and have been wanting to make one.

67 Calvin December 11, 2010 at 1:02 am

I tried this once with an encyclopedia for a gift for a friends bachelor party. I was going to hide a flask like object and some cups in it. Turns out this was something that I would have needed to start much earlier.

Another idea for those who do not want to destroy pre-existing books is to create a book for this project by learning how to do book binding. That way, you could create plain or fancy books, and with whatever title you want.

At any rate, I have been thinking of doing a project like this for my ebook reader, because I think that would be cool. Maybe one of these days if I have the time.

68 MMA Girl December 11, 2010 at 4:16 pm

This is great and thanks for sharing. I’ve always wanted one of these. I’m always paranoid about leaving money just laying around when I’m not home. I’ll be sure to make it out of the most inconspicuous book in the house!

69 Mike M. December 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Old textbooks would do nicely for this…as would remaindered fiction books. You can pick up those cheap, and you aren’t destroying a valuable collectible.

70 B December 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm

I made one of these as a teenage to store, uh… “balloons.”

Turns out I used a book my dad spent 14 years searching for.
Didn’t really work out as a secret safe because he went straight for it when he saw it.
Boy, was he ever angry.

and by angry I mean ready to kill me.

71 Michael Z. Williamson December 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

Stephen December 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm
There is very rarely evil intent at book burnings. Quite often it is done to protect a vulnerable group of people — children, for example. What do you do if there’s a book teaching your children immoral things? Duh, throw it on the fire.

Duh–don’t let them see it. And who defines “moral”? Apparently you do.

I have no problem burning books that are unsellable trash–DOS handbooks from the 1990s and anything by L. Ron Hubbard come to mind, but burning them because you disagree with them IS in fact, evil. You are stating that someone else’s opinion or beliefs should be destroyed.

Also, if you paid for the books, guess what? You’ve paid the publisher and author, and they really don’t care if you’ve read it or not. They’ll print more.

If you stole the book, then that’s both a crime and probably a sin, if you are a “moral” person.

Unless you think it’s okay to commit crimes against people you disagree with. In which case you’re a hypocrite.

72 LiamS December 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

We must be on the same wavelength. I’m making a few of these this christmas for family members.

I’m experimenting with ways to glue the pages. Rather than down the edges, for instance, I’m trying one with three glue wells drilled down through the pages (on the outside of where the compartment will be.

73 Richard December 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Old textbooks would make a good choice. Nobody cares about old textbooks.

74 Ken Mitchell December 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

You write “6. Place the book in a vice or under a weight.”

I recommend vices like drunkenness and gluttony; lechery is too common these days, don’t you think?

Perhaps you meant “vise”?

75 Mike December 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I dunno, if your Dad is getting up in years like mine, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” may be a bit of a cruel choice of title for the spine.

76 RobinGoodfellow December 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I made one of these for my daughter to stash her pistol. She was very pleased.

77 The Monster December 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm

“Place the book in a vice or under a weight”

I don’t think putting a book in a vice will help much. A vise, however, should do the trick nicely.

78 comatus December 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm

I, too, simply could not bear to rip the living soul from any book, no matter how forgotten, unloved, or there is Mein Kampf you know. Go ahead. Defend it.

That’s how I came up with The Kindle Safe.
Lose track of the contents? Just download new ones!
Remove battery pack before applying box cutter.

79 CW December 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm

@Ken. Vice works as well. Look it up…in a book.

80 steve poling December 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I’ve had the best luck drilling four holes in the four corners of the book. I use a small bit of metal as a stop to prevent the drill from going through the back cover. I used a narrow pilot drill to start. The holes give you a guide to set a metal ruler to cut along. The problem I had when I didn’t drill was that I’d get scraps in the corners. I also found one of those cutting mats was helpful because I don’t glue the pages first. That lets me cut a set number of pages at a time. I’ve found an Xacto knife works well, and buy an extra box of replacement blades.

81 schizuki December 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

OK, two things -

1) As noted, it’s a vise, not a vice.

2) If you’re going to put a gun in one, please do so only if you’re home. When you’re out, get that piece in a safe where it belongs. Book with hidden compartments aren’t exactly a big secret, and we don’t need guns in the hands of criminals.

82 Minotaur December 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Any of you people that think a burglar is going to look at the titles of the books on your shelf are delusional. They will put their hand behind all the books and throw them on the floor before looking at the contents. Then go to the next shelf.
ad infinitum.

83 Joel December 12, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I got lucky, I didn’t have to make a book safe. At Goodwill I found a storage box for a Kenwood sewing machine. It held the little bobbins and thread and looked exactly like a book when stood upright. It says “Accessories and Buttonholer” on the spine but no one will notice that among 300 books. Heck, nobody has noticed my copy of Machiavelli tucked in the middle of my Snoopy books.

84 dave December 12, 2010 at 11:28 pm

What’s with the glue? It is completely unnecessary ( not to mention that I would think that it would make the book safe book stand out from the others). Just cut the compartment out of the pages as described above. I’ve made and used several of these exactly that way. Forget the glue and save yourself a lot of hassle and mess.

85 Mark December 13, 2010 at 12:56 am

Your article got posted to in the /howto section. I decided to combine the instructions with the website’s logo/mascot and create a book safe for reddit secret santa:

86 Shaurya Gupta December 13, 2010 at 6:58 am

Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THIS IS ABSULATELY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111

87 Chris December 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Keep in mind that in a house fire, what you put in there will be ashes. A fireproof safe craftily hidden in an interior wall cavity, and clevery concealed, is something readers will want to ponder. And do some research before buying one — some fire rated safes hold up better than others in a fire.

88 ERAnderson December 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for this. I am making it as a wedding present for my buddy. More posts on how to make things, please!

89 Ryan December 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Great article! I have an old copy of the CIA World Factbook that would be almost perfect for this. It’s the 2001 edition, using information from 2000, so it’s very out-of-date. I was actually trying to figure out how to dispose of it. Now I know.

90 FormerHostage December 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

Forgive me if someone already recommended this…

Perform step 5 twice: once for the bulk of the safe and again for the “lid.” Make the lid about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. After finishing the safe, layout a spot on the side margin of the safe well and the lid and cut out a small area big enough for two small (weak) magnets (DO NOT use rare earth magnets!). Put one in the safe side and one in the lid side. Now, if someone opens the book or it falls to the ground, it won’t pop open revealing the safe.

91 Chris Deming December 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Don’t know if anyone has said this but… I made a ton of these back in college and I always used those reader’s digest condensed books. You can get them for a dollar or two at your local Goodwill or thrift store and no one is going to pitch a fit over one of those being cut up. I also covered many of my with a cloth cover to make them more attractive. This does however draw attention to the book, unless it is one of many. Another option is a well done dust jacket. So make the safe out of any book, and add a dust jacket that says it “Farewell to arms” or The Great Gatsby”.

92 Jonny B Gud December 15, 2010 at 10:41 am

Brett, can you post how we can do this with a Kindle? I think a Kindle safe would be very useful also.

93 Roger Dodger December 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm

This is a good father-and-son project I have been looking for!

94 Blasphemous 1 December 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I love it i’m going to make one from my copy of the Koran

95 David December 15, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Thanks Brett & Kate this is really cool and the felt is a nice touch

96 T December 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Good book titles if you print your own dust covers:

Home Scabies Removal for Dummies
Homeopathic Herpes Cures
Coprophiliac’s Digest Monthly
ABC’s of Intestinal Parasites

97 Stephen December 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

Michael Z. Williamson December 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

Whoa, butthurt much? You didn’t understand anything I said.

I’m saying that PEOPLE WHO GO TO BOOK BURNINGS define morals for themselves which is why they burn the book. Try to keep up.

Erik seemed to be saying that people burn books because they are dastardly villains. 9 times out of 10 that’s not the case. Often they’re just desperately trying to protect something, like their children.

And are you seriously saying that someone is evil in the same post that you criticise me for defining what moral is (except I didn’t and you’re being an idiot)?

Ironically the only person defining what moral is there is YOU.

98 Mick December 20, 2010 at 5:14 am

Now a real manly act would be to make that from scratch, by buying the componants to do the bookbinding. Then you wouldn’t have to be destroying any ready printed books. You could have your own leather bound book safe. With the right amount of staining and scuffing artistically applied to the outside, it could look old and boring enough to be ignored.
And of course you learn two manly things then, the art of concealment, and the art of bookbinding.


99 cade December 22, 2010 at 2:44 pm

if you cut up For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway will crawl out of his grave, pick me up from my house, and we will find you and destroy you.

100 Kevin December 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Made this for a friend who is interested/works in the psychology field as a secret santa gift. Picked up an old DSM III and began cutting away. It was easy at the beginning but got progressively more difficult the deeper I got into the book as the pages bunched up around the corners. As another person commented, drilling holes in the corner is a great way to mitigate this problem and allow you to push ahead with the gift. I’d also mention that the type of vise/clamp makes a difference (I used 2 C clamps which ended up leaving 2 round marks on the cover – not the end of a world for a used book but not ideal either). I will do this project again as gifts for others with my tips in mind.

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