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DIY Secret Book Compartments

Find me a child who doesn’t love a secret compartment or hidey hole and I’ll find you a unicorn*.

Sometimes buying thoughtful and interesting gifts for everyone can get a bit expensive and throw us way out of our budget. Or maybe Dad is a bit sick of socks and jocks and you’d like to give him something a bit different this time. Or maybe you’re the economical type.

Wouldn’t most people like to reduce, reuse, recycle and save some of the incredibly enormous amount of goods that get thrown into landfill each year?

It could be, that like me, you just love to DIY.

If one of these sounds like you, or if you just have way too many old and unused books headed to the bin, read on my friend.

This tutorial is for secret book compartments. They’re personal, handmade, and cheap. They only take a couple of hours, a little bit of patience, and are fairly simple to do.

The kids are going to love stashing their pocket money, lollies, and whatever else you can imagine in here! Remember to check it though the next time you can’t find your keys…

Recycle any old books you have laying around to save on costs, and to keep your favourite - but no longer read - books up on the shelf. Personalise them for what is in your (child’s, friend’s, parent’s) bookcase and to whatever they’re interested in. The more the book blends in and matches with their style and interests, the less conspicuous it will look.

If your kids have any double ups from previous gifts (remember those two Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 books they received last year?), or books which they’re not particularly fond of, but had to have to match in with the other 15 in the set – use those!

Another idea is to grab a note book from Kmart. It will only set you back around $3 - $5 each and they’ve got some pretty funky coloured hard or soft covers. This is what I’ll be using below.

Don’t forget to check out your local op shop, where you can find some beautiful vintage looking hardcover books for only a few dollars. You never know what gems may be hiding there! You’ll be giving an old dusty book a new purpose in life, and save it from a lifetime of sitting all lonely on a dark shelf.

Just make sure it’s not too interesting a topic, or every man and his dog will be taking it off the shelf to flick through, and there goes your secret…

You get the idea, right?


Let’s get on with it.

First up, choose your book.


Grab some plastic bags, sticky tape, a cutting knife, and craft glue (also from Kmart for a whopping $2 – it will get you through quite a lot of books).

Next, set aside a few pages from the beginning of the book, so that you don’t get straight to the hidden cut out once you open the cover.

Tape a plastic bag around the front cover and the first pages that you’ve kept aside so as not to get glue on them.

Tape another plastic bag on the back cover.

Holding the pages firmly together to keep them tight, squirt a line of glue along the pages and brush it on evenly. This is going to be your secret compartment.

Repeat for all three edges of the book.

Put the book in a vice for a couple of hours to let it dry and keep it tight.

Since we’re doing this as an at home DIY project and not everyone has a vice, you can use anything heavy. Here I’ve used a 10 litre box of water, three books, and the kids rock collection.

Now we wait…. Tick tock tick tock…. Give it at least an hour. You want the pages to be hard and dry and the glue to have turned clear before you continue.

When its dry and ready, rule a rectangle where you want to cut out your compartment.

Using a scalpel, or art knife, slowly start cutting along the line. You don’t want to go right through to the bottom because you will still want your compartment to have a base.

I started to get a little impatient at this point and tried out my rotary cutter. It was faster, but didn’t get as neatly to the edges.

Tidy up any scruffy edges then paint the inside of the pages (where you have just cut) with the glue.

You can also do another layer of glue on the outside of the pages if you feel like it needs it.

Leave the paper plain as it is, or dress it up if you prefer. I used a little bit of scrap material left over from some previous craft projects.

Voila! You’re done!

Are you saving for a holiday? Why not grab a travel book to that destination to throw all your extra spare coins or notes into? It all adds up! And as an added bonus, you’ll have that visual incentive to save each time you see the spine or cover of the book.

If you’ve made a secret book compartment or you’re planning to, let me know how you went!

Happy days x


* please do not actually hold me to this statement – I have no idea where unicorns live, that could be a verrrrrry long search for me…

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