The old hollowed-out book trick
Reference library for tough situations
We’ve all seen the hollowed-out book, but there’s not much room in one of those. Instead, use several books with a plywood box attached to the back to make a hidden compartment. If you have a band saw for cutting out the pages, great. If not, you can use a jigsaw. (After all, books are just a form of wood.)
If the sides of the books will be visible, fold back the covers of the books on the left and right sides of the assembly before cutting. Build a plywood box to fit the opening and glue the book parts to the box with construction adhesive. The disadvantage? You can see inside the box on low shelves, so you need to display it so the opening is above eye level.
Right out in the open
Thieves never use vacuum cleaners
It doesn’t have to be an old vacuum cleaner. Any common household item that has a cavity will work. Think old printers, computer towers, children’s toys, etc. (Just be sure family members know about it so your valuables don’t get donated or tossed!) For easy access, choose an item that opens instantly, like a vacuum cleaner bag compartment. For more security, choose an item with a cover that screws shut.
Hot spot for cold cash
Create a hidden compartment by cutting out a stud space opening and covering it with a return air grille. Cut off the grille screws and glue just the heads in place. Run four drywall screws into the corners of the opening so they fit just inside the rim of the grille. Then glue rare earth magnets to the back of the grille so they line up with the screw heads.
Watch your money grow
Roll up some cash, stick it in a medicine bottle or any other watertight container, and bury it in a potted plant. For quicker access and to keep dirt from getting under your fingernails, place a stone or pine cone over it. Not many burglars are going to be excavating around your houseplants.
Old smuggler’s trick
Pick a deep drawer so the depth change won’t be obvious. Cut 1/4-in. plywood 1/16 in. smaller than the drawer opening and rest it on a couple of wood strips that are hotglued to the drawer sides. Then hot-glue some item you’d expect to find in that drawer to the bottom so you have a handle to lift the false bottom and reveal the booty.
Stash cash for your next kitchen remodel
Between almost every pair of upper cabinets, there’s a 1/2-in. gap. Take advantage of that gap by hanging a manila envelope containing, oh, I don’t know, about two grand in hundred-dollar bills? Hang the cash with binder clips that are too wide to fall through the crack.
Create more storage space in your kitchen cabinets
There’s an enormous 4-in.-tall cavity under all those kitchen cabinets behind the toe-kicks. It takes a few carpentry skills, but you can pull the toe-kicks free and make them removable. Most are 1/4-in. plywood held in place with 1-in. brads, and they’re pretty easy to pull off. If you have a secondary 3/4-in. toe-kick, you’ll have to cut it out at both ends. An oscillating tool works well for that task.
Stick both halves of round hook-and-loop self-adhesive tape to the toe-kick. Then push the toe-kick into place. The adhesive will stick to the cabinet base and leave half of the hook-and-loop tape in place when you pull it free. You can store approximately $2.4 million in gold bullion under two average-size cabinets—provided the floor is strong enough to support it.
Smooth and creamy money
Go online and type in “secret hiding places” and you’ll be amazed by how many brand-name phony containers are available. Comet, Coca-Cola, Bush Beans—whatever. But you can craft a homemade version too. This mayonnaise jar had its interior spray-painted with cream-colored paint for plastic.
The appliance caper
Find secret hiding places under kitchen appliances
Fridges and dishwashers have a snap-off grille in the front. Well, there’s a lot of secret storage space under there. Ask yourself this: How many burglars will be thinking about cleaning your refrigerator coils? But before you stuff treasures under a fridge, take a peek to see where the coils are. On some models, a stack of cash might block the airflow. That will make the fridge work harder and could even damage it.
Field editor tips
We received lots of tips from our Field Editors about their hiding spots—and we promised not to include their names or addresses. Here are their favorites (#10-19):
11. “Drill a hole in the top of any interior door. Size it to fit a cylinder such as an old film container or a cigar tube. Roll up some bills and keep them there.”
Editor’s Note: If you want to do this trick on a hollow-core door, you have to stick close to the outside edges. Look at the door from the top and you’ll see how wide the solid internal frame is.
More field editor tips
13. “It took some effort, but I freed a tread from the oak stairs to the second story and attached a piano hinge to the back. It’s almost invisible.”
14. “Whenever I build a piece of furniture, I build in a stash spot. The last project I built was a dresser, and when I assembled it, I put a 1/4-in. sheet of plywood just above the top drawers and installed a piano hinge on the top. That’s where we keep everything we care about.”
15. “Believe it or not, I put our passports and a bit of cash underneath the shroud that covers the garage door opener.”
16. “How many thieves are going to go through the dozens of pockets in your closet? I put cash in the pockets of my old pants and suit coats.” Just be sure the clothes don’t get donated!
17. “I think the key is to use lots of secret hiding places. It’s stupid to put all your eggs in one basket. I keep hundred-dollar bills between pages in books, tape an envelope behind my headboard and put cash behind the false panel in my dishwasher.”
18. “No burglar worth his salt looks in a kid’s room for valuables. It’s just full of useless junk. So find somewhere in there where the kid won’t find it either.”
19. “My secret stash is taped on the underside of drawers in the kitchen.”
Hide a key in plain site
Say you want to hide a key—other than under the rug or over the door. How about mounting a phony plastic LB fitting. Screw it to the wall and run a bit of 1/2-in. conduit to the ground so it looks official. Cut the head off the bottom screw and glue it in place. That’s it. Swing the cover aside and there’s the key.