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Published on December 19th, 2013 | by Dan Tappo


Fake bookcase hides secret cabinet


My 7 year old son has this random collection of stuff he calls his ‘mini museum’ – rocks, fossils, marbles, old film canisters – in other words, he’s a hoarder! Anyway, he asked if I could make a display cabinet for it all but added that he wanted the cabinet to be disguised so that it wasn’t obvious to people that it would have a treasure trove of stuff inside.

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So I came up with this fake book-case cabinet. If you can get hold of enough books, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s going to be a Christmas present for him which explains why at the moment, the display cabinet is empty. I’ll try to upload another picture when it’s in his room and in use. Here’s how I did it:

* Get one 4×4 Expedit and build it!

* On the sides at the front, attach two pieces of planed timber. You’ll be hinging the ‘bookcase’ doors onto this timber because the Expedit doesn’t have the structural integrity to hold the hinges (at least I assumed it didn’t). The timber I used was 34mmx34mm. I used that size only because the hardware store I went to had a bolt-screw that was exactly 34mm longer than the screw that comes with the Expedit unit. This meant I could screw through the timber into the Expedit and hold it together exactly as securely as normal. I then painted the timber white.

* The book case doors are 12mm MDF painted white (although timber would be better and a bit thinner better again). The ‘bookcase edges’ are planed timber 25mm x 25mm and then shelves are 25mm x 15mm. I cut all the pieces to size first – the doors, then the bookcase parts and then the books. I nailed the bookcase into place from the book and as for the books, I just cut them on a bandsaw and then glued them into place.

* I used 3 hinges per side to hang the doors but that was overkill – 2 would have been fine.

Note that the doors are quite heavy to do tend to want to swing open. For this reason I cut the doors at an angle (where they meet in the middle) so that one holds the other shut. However, I needed to put a bolt on the top to hold the first door in place. I neatened up the look of that by cutting a hole in a final book to hide the bold. When the doors are open they do cause the whole Expedit to lean forward a fraction which means closing them is hard. I put two drinks coasters under the front of the Expedit which raises it up enough to stop that happening.

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* To finish it off, I got a 4 strip Dioder white light and secured one in each of the Expedit boxes. I also got two glass inserts for the top two boxes. Lastly, I got a bit of white hardboard and secured it on the back so that you couldn’t see the skirting board and wires behind the bottom two units.

* Overall, it took about 14 hours split over a couple of weekends (it was waiting for paint to dry that stopped this being a one weekend project). I did it with really basic tools (except for the bandsaw for the books) – but if you look closely it is a little rough around the edges! In addition to the cost of the Expedit, lighting and inserts, it cost me about 15 quid for the timber, hardboard, paint, and catch. I got the books for free.

Expedit mini desk/nightstand for a tiny bedroom – $40!
Christmas Nativity with 2 RIBBA FRAMES and 3,5 cm statues

The Author


19 Responses to Fake bookcase hides secret cabinet

  1. Jane says:

    Hi, I’m really interested in how you cut the books, if you glued the pages together and most importantly, how you affixed the books to the door.

    We are working on a similar project and love that you used real (different sized) books. We don’t want to go down the antique faux book route.

    Many thanks!

  2. Amy says:

    WOW!!! Well done! I hope your son was thrilled! I know I would have been :-)

  3. GuinR says:

    Very clever I will have to do this for my hidden liquor bar stash. I have folks that arrive with no liquor and want to leave with it like they shopped at he Class VI. They never touch my books so this would work.

  4. Wendy says:

    Just wanted to say that I think this is amazing!! What a great Dad you are … & a responsible book lover too! You’ve shown your son to respect books, recycle where one can … as well as showing him just how much you love him by putting your time where your heart is! I’ll bet he was the most excited little boy ever when he saw this!! In fact I love it so much that I’d love one of these myself .. & I have a good purpose for it too! Congratulations Dad! Father of the Year for this one! :)

  5. Mickey G says:

    FAN Flippin Tastic. A mothers love has no bounds. Great job.

  6. Dan Tap says:

    Just regarding the books: All of them bar one were rescued from the dump. I made 3 weekend trips there and if ever I saw someone dumping books, I stepped in to get them. Nearly all were damaged in some way – missing pages, torn covers, mouldy, etc. so I figured that using them in a different way was better than letting them be thrown away! The only non-dump book was the “hide the bolt” one which needed to be of better quality due to its prominence. This I got from my local bookstore for free because it had a printing error in it. So no books that would otherwise have been read were harmed! ;-)

  7. Ines says:

    I agree. I just couldn’t do that with once-loved books.

  8. Phill says:

    Don’t shed a tear for them. At a glance, I can see at least a dozen of those books are Reader’s Digest editions, which are usually three or four books hacked up to fit in one volume. Not what you’d call quality, and I imagine most of the rest of them are similarly bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. Now if I were doing this, I’d see about getting a hold of some of that good Swedish bookshelf-filler from my local Ikea…

  9. Dan Tap says:

    Hi Richard

    After using the bandsaw on the books they were a little bit dusty and a little bit rough around the edges so I had to tidy them up by sanding them a tiny, tiny bit. As for the glue I just used a product like No More Nails – just a strong all-purpose glue from your hardware store that comes in a big tube.

  10. klynda says:

    Those poor books.

  11. Marjolein says:

    It’s not my hack, but I think your son is sooooooo lucky to have a dad like you :) . I’d have loved this as a kid.

  12. Dana says:

    So cool. You are going to be a hero on Christmas day!

  13. Richard says:

    Was wondering what type of glue you used to afix the sliced book binder to the service. Did you have to do anything to the cut books before you gluded them.


  14. debra says:

    You must be the best dad in the world. This is just wonderful.

  15. Helena says:

    your son must love it!! :o )

  16. MrBlackTux says:

    Parenting done right!

  17. Marjan says:

    Great job! I think there’s going to be a very happy boy around the house at Christmas.

  18. CL says:

    That is really cool

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