Book Safe

Growing up, “Garage-saling” was a thing – cruising up and down the neighborhood streets of Portland looking for hidden treasures at garage and yard sales. Maybe a new toy for me and some vintage Orange Crush merchandise for my dad’s collection. Garage & yard sales, antique shops and thrift stores are hugely popular in Portland, Oregon – arguably the hometown of “hipster” – and being resourceful is the way of life.

Last weekend, I went treasure hunting at garage sales around here in Watertown, NY and came away with some great vintage finds, one of which was this incredible book printed in 1880.


Watertown is a very old city – our house was built the same year this book was published, but the city was settled in 1800.


200+ years of history means awesome antiquing! I’ve always loved book safes, but never been able to find a thick enough antique book. I hit the jackpot with this one, it was only 50 cents! This project was very quick, simple and cheap. This tutorial was my original inspiration, but I really just made this up as I went.

Start with a thick hardcover book, the older the better! You will also need a sharp box cutter or sturdy X-acto knife, a clip to hold back pages as you go, and Mod Podge. If you’re like me and don’t have mod podge, mix equal parts glue and warm water. I turned on a classic rock station on iTunes radio and busted this out within an hour.


Start by drawing out a stencil for the size of the hidden compartment. I kept it easy and just used the words as a guide, keeping the page number and subject up top. This is completely up to you! When you’ve got the outline, start cutting.


The pages should pop out fairly easy, and you can use the hole you made to outline your next cut.


Clipping back the pages to keep them out of your way makes this so much easier! The paper in this book is thick and good quality, so it took some effort to cut deep enough. I cut about 15-20 pages at a time, stopping about 100 pages from the end of the book. My honey suggested not to cut out every page so that the light weight of the book wouldn’t give away my secret hiding place!

This book also had a few awesome illustrations, so I performed surgery and transplanted my favorite one at the bottom of the cuts I made for a pretty background.


When you’ve got all your cuts finished, mix up equal parts glue and water. First, brush some onto the inside back cover of the book to make sure it’s solid. Next, I brushed the “Mod Podge” only on the outside of the pages because I liked the texture of the cuts inside. The tutorial linked above suggested to wrap wax paper around the top section of the book so the pages don’t stick together. Take your time and be really careful not to glue the book shut. How ironic would that be? 😉 Finally, close the book and set something heavy on top for a few hours.


Fill up your book safe with any treasures you might have and hide your prized possessions in plain sight!


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