How to Make a Hollow Book

A hollow book can be a nifty way to hide something, whether it's a spare key, a secret note, or even money. Most people wouldn't think to browse your library for private or personal things. It's also a great way to pass something to someone discreetly--an unsuspecting onlooker will just think you're sharing a very good read!


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    Select a book, preferably a thick one with a sturdy hard cover. (See 'tips' and 'warnings' first, about where to get an appropriate book and not to select a valuable/antique/currently popular/important book).
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    Select the first few pages that you want to have free at the end of the project (plus one more) and hold them to the front cover with plastic food wrap so they do not get messed up with the glue. These pages, except for the last one, will not be cut out. This will allow the book to look like a book when it is opened up and will cover the hole itself.
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    Mix a solution of white glue and water. Make the consistency just enough for the glue to be runny, and more easily absorbed by the edge of the book's pages. 50% to 70% glue (30% to 50% water) or half a 35mm film canister full usually works well but use your judgment, given the thickness and size of the book. Alternatively, try a craft glue like Mod Podge.
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    Now that you have the top cover and the first couple of pages wrapped in food wrap, brush the three edges of the book with the glue solution so that it is reasonably absorbed. This will hold the book's pages together. Remember: clean the brush off immediately, or else it will harden and become useless for step 9.
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    Place something heavy on top of the book so as to apply pressure. Let the book dry for fifteen to thirty minutes.
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    Open the book to reveal the first glued page. Draw a half-inch (1.2 cm) border within the edge, on all four sides (including the spine). Drill a hole in each corner of the newly drawn box to the depth you wish the hidden compartment to be. (This makes cutting out the pages easier because the blade does not have to make a 90 degree turn.) You may leave a few of the glued bottom pages uncut.
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    Cut along the inside of the drawn line with a straight edge knife (a box cutter works especially well). Try to make the cut as vertical as possible, or else try to tilt it so the hole will narrow as you go down. Using a ruler, as shown in the image, can help a lot. Apply enough pressure to cut a few pages at a time. A metal ruler is advisable.
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    Continue cutting through the layers. Do not rush this step, because the slower and more carefully you do this, the smoother and straighter the inside edges will be. Remove the bits of paper from the inside that accumulate from the cutting.
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    Brush the glue solution onto the inside edges of the hole and allow it to soak in. The glue dries clear, so don't be concerned if it drips a little. While waiting, apply a second coat of glue to the outside edges of the pages.
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    Brush the "frame" of the hole with a light coat of glue. The saved page will be glued directly on top of the hole, essentially covering it (for now).
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    Close the book again, this time without any spacers. Allow it to dry for about 15-30 minutes. In this drying phase, the saved page will become affixed to the hole, as mentioned in the previous step.
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    Cut the saved page neatly along the edges of the hole so that the hole is visible and accessible once again. The insides of the book may still be moist because the book had been closed while drying. Now is a good time to let the book dry while it's open.
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    Check to make sure every part of the book is thoroughly dry. Touch it with your fingers, and when you are certain it is dry, fill it with your treasured items, shut the book, and put it in the bookshelf. Only you will know that this book has a secret compartment!


  • If you are wondering, "What is the purpose of saving the last page to glue on top, and then cutting through it just like the others?" It's to cover up the lines you initially drew to cut out the compartment in the book. It also allows the book to be fully closed, compressing the pages while the inside dries. This is important so the book will close properly when it is finished.
  • Make sure you only use a hardback book. If the cover is soft, you will end up cutting through the back of the book. If you're careful though, you could use a softcover or even a paperback book.
  • Drill a hole in the bottom of the book to run a cable into the book to make a hidden phone charging station (shown below). Apply a little glue inside the hole to seal the pages.
  • Use a metal ruler (or a wooden ruler with a metal-edge insert) to guide your knife. The illustration pictures a plastic ruler, but the knife can easily bite into plastic (or wood), messing up both the ruler and the project.
  • You may be able to get free old books from libraries that are clearing out the archives. But don't use a book from your family's library - it might be a valuable antique, and someone could start looking for it.
  • If the hole you have cut is a little too small, you can sand the edges, but it will leave a slightly furry feeling depending on the paper.
  • A Dremel tool makes quick work of 30-40 pages at a time, and sometimes the heat of the cutting disk burns the inside edges, leaving smooth brown lines on the inside. (See Warnings)
  • Before you begin, plan out the size of the hole, so that it won't turn out to be too small for the object/s you want to store.
  • A book press centers and distributes weight evenly and will give your book a stronger structure and form. You'll want to make sure that you can provide an equal weight distribution, heavy enough to press a book's pages tight and dense on a microscopic level.
  • If you are using a paperback, put a hard surface that you cannot cut through easily between the back and the last page.
  • Glue the last page down to the cover of the book to ensure that it is secure.
  • Don't carry it around with you every day. It looks suspicious if you keep peeking into it.
  • Give the inside compartment a rustic feel by adding a burned texture. This is simply done by using a lighter to char the inner pages. If during the cutting off the whole you created some rough inner edge, then this slight charring makes the book visually appealing again and removes small flakes attached to the sides. Careful not to catch the book on fire however.
  • Give the inside of the book a finished edge. In Step 12, instead of cutting out the saved page, cut an "X" on the page. Paint glue on the cut edges on the inside of the box. Fold each of the 4 triangles over these edges. Glue the tips of each triangle to the bottom of the box.
  • Color the hole with markers.
  • Don't pick a book you like. Pick a hardcover book that you won't read, and be very careful not to donate it to any store. If you don't have any hardcover books, buy one that looks good on the outside, but check if it's a good book. If it is good, pick another.


  • Try adding a closing mechanism to keep your book closed like a magnet, belt buckle, or button. Otherwise everything that you place inside will just fall out!
  • When choosing a book, make sure it is not a book that you care about and that someone will want to read again. Also, make sure that it is not a book anyone else might ask to look at, because it will be hard to come up with an excuse as to why you won't let them read it.
  • Hollow books are not effective against law enforcement.
  • Although the Dremel tool cuts quickly, you may accidentally cut through the back of the book. Also be advised that it will burn the pages, and the smoke may smell bad, depending on the type of paper the book is made from. The depth of the cut is also limited to the radius of the cutting wheel. You will need to remove pages between cuts to go deeper.
  • Burning paper often contains dioxins, which are a potent carcinogen: Make sure you ventilate the room, perhaps blowing a fan across the book as you work to keep the dangerous fumes from your face.
  • Cutting an old book can contain many old, foreign, possibly harmful contaminates found within dust. The dust particles can sit for many years, contain bacteria, and chemicals. Depending on your method of cutting, you may find a little to maximum of dust in the air. It is recommended that you cut in a well ventilated area, use of an air vacuum with a HEPA filter is preferable, and most importantly you use a dust mask that can filter out the breathing of such dust particles. Eyeglasses can also be used to prevent dust from getting into the eyes, and protect from particles (ie: small rock, tiny metal particles from an old rusty pipe) that can shoot out from underneath a blade into the eye. Especially if using motorized tools, such as a Dremel. Dust will fill the air, so close all doors, to minimize the spreading of such dust particles.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardcover book
  • White glue
  • Tap water
  • Container to hold glue solution
  • Plastic food wrap
  • X-acto knife, or box cutter.
  • Brush to apply glue solution
  • Rags to wipe up any spills
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Ruler
  • Something Heavy to weigh things down with
  • Flat work surface
  • Drill with small drill bit

Sources and Citations

  • How To Do Stuff. Original source of this article. Shared with permission. View the site for many more ideas.
  • audio73chThanks also to the originator of Hollow Book. The complete history of the tutorial is on his blog or at least the appearances he knows of.

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