Make a Treasure Map
Having several hiding places makes sense...unless you forget where they are! Avoid this misfortune by making yourself a map of your various treasure sites. That way you only need to remember one location—the place where you hid the map.
The Old Hollowed-Out-Book Trick
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. 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.
Photo: KUPRYNENKO ANDRII/Shutterstock
Hidden Safe Pillow
Hidden Bookcase Storage
Slit Open a Tennis Ball
Slice open a tennis ball and you've got yourself a little vault just like those rubber squeeze coin purses from the '70s. Don't store the ball in the garage with the other balls or it could get tossed across the yard for your dog.
Right Out in the Open
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.
This outlet isn't what it seems
Photo: Bed Bath and Beyond
A Shelf with a Secret
Cut out a stud space opening to fit 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.
Learn how to build a shoe rack here.
False Stair Tread
It takes some effort, but if you can, free a tread from your stairs. Then attach a piano hinge to the back. It'll be almost invisible and you'll have a good place to stash valuables.
You Can't Take it With You
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.
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 hot-glued 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.
I always keep a spare key hidden somewhere on my vehicle. I don't use a magnetic key box because it can fall off, and it's not easy to find a place big enough to stick them to mostly plastic modern cars. Instead, I bolted my spare key to a magnet, the kind with metal on one side and a hole in the middle. It fits perfectly in a little nook near my rear bumper, and it's been there for years without falling off.
Kid's Room Hideaway
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.
Who'd Suspect an Ironing Board?
Many ironing boards have tubular legs with plastic caps on them. Pull the cap and you've got yourself a perfect little hidey-hole. I slide in a wad of paper towels first so my secret stays near the opening and doesn't rattle around.
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.
Secret in the Ceiling
I like to stash my treasures above the suspended ceiling tiles in my basement. At that height, would-be thieves can't get at them without a ladder. Keep your goodies in a plastic container to protect them from bandits of the rodent variety. And don't stash anything heavy that could cause a ceiling tile to sag.
There's an enormous 4-in.-tall cavity under all those kitchen cabinets behind the toekicks. 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.
Stow a Key in Your Yard
If you have an irrigation system, install a phony pop-up sprinkler head near the front door and hide a key in it. You could dismantle an extra sprinkler head or buy a fake one designed to hold a key. They cost less than $5 at home centers and discount stores.
Garage Door Opener Shroud
Believe it or not, you can hide items like passports and cash under the shroud that covers the garage door opener.
Hide a Key in the Keypad
It takes hours, not days, for my younger kids to lose their house keys. My solution was to install a remote keypad for the garage door opener. That worked great until one day we lost power and my 12-year-old son was left out in the cold ... literally. I discovered that my key fit right behind the nine-volt battery inside the keypad. A key in a keypad—now that's ironic.
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.
Kitchen Cabinet Cache
There are tons of ways to hide stuff in a kitchen cabinet. Bury a zipper-top bag full of jewelry at the bottom of a half-full oatmeal box. Open a cereal box at the bottom and shove in some cash. (Pick a healthy cereal that no one will touch.) A "smooth-edge" can opener cuts through the top in such a way that the top often fits snugly back in place.
The Appliance Caper
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.
Stick a flat box of tissues in a full-size tissue box holder and you've just created a convenient little hiding spot. You could buy a one-size-fits-all box like this, or a regular box holder and set the box of tissues on a couple of blocks. The box shown is made by PandPal and costs around $23 online.
How many thieves are going to go through the dozens of pockets in your closet? Put cash in the pockets of your old pants and suit coats. Just be sure the clothes don't get donated!
Which Paint Can Contains the Gold?
Next time you use up a can of paint, save the empty can and fill it up with valuables. Then put it back on the shelf with all your other cans.
I keep a list of my passwords on a sheet of paper near my computer. I protect my list from bad guys and nosy coworkers by putting it in a file folder. I lay the folder flat on the bottom of a file cabinet drawer under the other hanging folders. For an extra level of security, you could label the file "Proctology Exam Results" or some other title to ward off prying eyes.
Hide Valuables in Fake Pipes
Put in a fake PVC pipe complete with a cleanout plug somewhere in your basement. Unscrew the plug and there are the goods.
Oversized Art Storage
Hole in the Door
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.
Hide a Key In Plain Sight
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.
Hide a Safe in the Wall or Floor
Install a wall safe or cylinder floor safe (a SentrySafe Floor Safe is available at amazon.com) by bolting it to the floor (most safes have holes inside for just that purpose). Hide it in the corner of a closet or other inconspicuous area. Or mount the wall safe inside a wall and cover it with a picture. Or chip out a hole in your concrete slab and stick in the floor safe, then pour new concrete around it.
False Top (or Bottom)
When you build a piece of furniture, build in a stash spot. For example, when you assemble a dresser, put a piece of 1/4-in. plywood just above the top drawers and install a piano hinge on the top. Now you have a spot to hide precious items.
Spread Your Wealth
Use lots of hiding places. You could keep cash between pages in books, tape an envelope behind your headboard or put cash behind the false panel in your dishwasher.