Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Book Safe

My house is stacked with books everywhere, and that doesn't include the bookcases. A thief entering my home would be so overwhelmed by all the books that I doubt he would be able to find 'valuables' in any of them, even if he had time to look. I've always been fascinated by Book Safes. You can buy book safes--hollowed out  books which will hold jewelry or coins-- from just about anywhere. On Amazon HERE AND HERE  or on Etsy at Secret Safe Books. Personally I think a book safe is better than an Ajax or Coke Can because those 'mini' safes might get thrown out by the cleaner. Besides, I love books!

The NYT last week had a great article on the return of the home safe, including the book safe. I know, I know.. sacrilege.. destroying a book, but if you choose a book that a thief.. or anyone else.. is unlikely to pull off the bookshelf such as an outdated almanac, perhaps, your valuables won't be found. Just remember what book you chose and where you put it. Daunting in my house--the land of books.

I've told my nephews over the years that when I'm gone, they will need to go through every pocket, every box, every drawer and now every book if they indeed want to find all that jewelry and money I've ferreted away ... well, not quite treasure, but I do tend to take off earrings and money and shove them in small boxes and crevices. I rarely use money as bookmarks, but who knows..or better yet.. who remembers. Pay attention, boys, and do as your aunt instructed.

You can make your own Book Safe for yourself or as a gift. These instructions for a DIY Book Safe from Brett & Kate McKay on The Art of Manliness are perfect!

A few things to keep in mind when selecting a book.

First, consider what you plan to hide in it and how much time you’re willing to put into making the Book Safe. 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.

Third, 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 Joy of 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.  

Gather Your Supplies. You’ll need:
a book
a box cutter
a brush
puzzle glue (pH neutral)
a ruler to mark the outline of your secret compartment
a few extra blades for your box cutter.

Mark off a few pages in the front. Don't 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.

Wrap the cover with plastic bags. To keep glue off of the cover, wrap it with plastic bags (or waxed paper). 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.

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.

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.

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.

Cut out the secret compartment. Using a box cutter, cut along the outline of your secret compartment. Do this slowly. 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. 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 saves a ton of time and also allows you to make the compartment into more creative shapes.

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.

Of course, this technique also works to hide your gun!