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Secret Book Boxes

Updated on June 15, 2014

Decorative Secret Book Boxes to Stash Treasures and Keepsakes

There's something so romantic and mysterious about a hollow book as a hiding place for secrets and treasures. A ribbon-tied bundle of old love letters, or a dainty pearl-handled revolver, or a map to a long-rumored buried treasure - the pages of novels are full of secret book boxes, and so are the pages of history.

On a practical note, in our modern homes, a secret book box is a great place to tidy away the odds and ends you don't necessarily want to leave lying around for prying eyes.

Hollow books or book safes can disguise themselves among regular books on your shelves or night table, to hide small valuables, like jewelry and spare cash, from a casual thief. A book safe with a lock can give just that extra bit of security. Or perhaps you just want a decorative box that looks great on the coffee table, to quickly stash away the usual household clutter to tidy up when unexpected guests drop in? You can even use them as risers in a sideboard or mantel display, instead of real books. Just consider all the ways you might use a secret book box!

Photo: IMAX Set of 3 Jarrow Book Box Collection available at Amazon

Double Book Box

Southwest Specialty Products 60005S Double Book Vault, Book Titles Vary
Southwest Specialty Products 60005S Double Book Vault, Book Titles Vary
Two real books are joined together to make one box, so you get some extra depth for storing your secret bits and pieces inside. Be aware, though, that TITLES MAY VARY so if security is your prime concern, you may end up with books that don't blend in with the others on your shelves. If you've got an extensive library, that's not a problem - but if all your books are old college textbooks, your secret book boxes may turn out to be books that stand out on your shelves instead of blending in as well as you'd like!

Decorative Faux Book Box Sets - Secret Boxes with Beautiful Bindings

I've discovered there are an astonishing number of highly decorative book boxes, made to leave out on a table to collect those odds and ends that would otherwise be languishing in a junk drawer or cluttering your table top. For example, a good-looking hollow book on the console table in your hallway is an attractive place to tidy away that extra set of keys, a bit of cash to tip the pizza delivery boy, and a few spare pens - the sort of thing you might find yourself scrambling to locate when you're in a hurry to get out the door. I'm fond of vintage style and when it comes to book boxes, I want them to look as much as possible like real hardover books. Here are a few that attracted my eye.

Dictionary Book Safe - Secret Book Box with Key Lock

If you want an extra measure of security, consider a secret hiding place in a hollow "fake book" box that has a lock on it. No, it's not going to stop a real thief if someone breaks into your house, but it will keep sticky fingered roommates and visitors from poking their noses into your private papers or helping themselves to your stash of cash or treats or other items you'd rather keep safe and private .

Streetwise Security Products Streetwise Locking Book Safe with Key
Streetwise Security Products Streetwise Locking Book Safe with Key
A good solid dictionary is a good choice of "diversionary safe" because every home has one, pretty much, but who ever opens it up? Certainly not a burglar in a hurry to grab your obvious valuables and make a fast getaway! Turn the key in its lock to keep the kids or nosy roommates from snooping around inside, slip the fake dictionary onto a book shelf to hide among the real volumes, and you've got a useful little hiding place.

What Book is This?

The downside of many secret book boxes for sale is that you don't know before you get it what the title of the book may be. That can be a bit of a problem if you're giving it as a gift and it turns out to be something way off the mark.

Or perhaps the book is one you'd never have on your bookshelf - not good, when you want it to blend in with your own books! You can always pick up a same-sized used hardcover book at a yard sale and swap the dust jacket, but in general you might want to consider buying a book box with a specific title. A dictionary is always good - everyone has a dictionary, if only as a college leftover - or one of the classics, if that's your reading style.

Here are some book boxes with a specific title, where you know what book it will be.

Revolver Hidden in a Bible - Illustrating a Sherlock Holmes story

Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London - Gun in a book, illustrating The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist - photo by User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London - Gun in a book, illustrating The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist - photo by User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo:Gun in a book illustrating "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist," is part of a display at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, London, UK. Photo by User:FA2010 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There's some history behind the habit of hiding things in hollowed-out books, and history is full of stories of sectret spy papers getting smuggled across enemy lines inside the covers of Bibles and prayer books - so many stories of that sort, you just have to figure that some of them are true! And in the pages of fiction, of course, we need look no further than Arthur Conan Doyle.

Would you like to make your own secret book box? It can be done, if you're patient. Keep reading...

Leather-Bound Set of Secret Book Boxes

I'm prepared to bet that no one will pull the Dictionary of Theology secret book boxes off your bookshelf to flip through while they're killing time - the way they might with a book box that looks like it might be an interesting novel to read.

Deco 79 Dictionary of Theology Book Box Set, Smooth Leather
Deco 79 Dictionary of Theology Book Box Set, Smooth Leather
Given the title, I think you can rest extra-assured that your secrets are safe when they're hidden in this set of three matching fake books!

Make Your Own Secret Book Box - DIY Project - Free Online Tutorials

Everyone who has made a secret book box seems to have a slightly different method - so if you're interested in taking the DIY approach to acquiring your own hollow book stash box, it's a good idea to read through a few tutorials to get a sense for what techniques have worked best for other crafters. A real bonus with blog post tutorials is the comments by readers, especially the advice that's contributed by other people who have made themselves a secret book box. Here are some of the very best tutorials out there, to get you started.

  • How To Make a Secret Hollow Book is a complete step-by-step tutorial with photographs, posted on the now-inactive but still awesome How to Do Stuff blog.
  • The Art of Manliness gives us another photo tutorial on How to Make a Secret Book Safe, with very clear instructions and step-by-step pictures.
  • Korrine Wojcik shows How -To: Turn an Old Book into a Book Box by removing all the pages from an old hardcover book and building a simple wooden box inside the covers.
  • Learn how to hollow out a book at The demo project here is an old telephone book - a great use for one of those old directories on its way to the landfill, instead of destroying a "real" book - and there's quite an interesting discussion in the comments area about what books are best ethical choices for this kind of project.

Make a Hollow Book [Video] - DIY Craft Tutorial

In this video, Queen of DIY walks us through the process of how to make a hollow book safe, guided by how2dostuff's step-by-step tutorial.

Would you like a secret book box? - I'd love one to stash my too-good-to-share chocolate. ;-)

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    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 

      6 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Yeah, my wife loves these, we have a few of them, just simple boxes. They are great to store little things in plain sight, a book can be placed everywhere and it doesn't stand out as a regular box.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, I never knew books like these existed, cool idea!

    • RosaMorelli profile image


      7 years ago

      I've always wanted a hollow book to hide my treasures in - it comes from watching all those mystery and secret agent movies as a kid :)

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      A fun idea not sure what I'd use it for though. Nicely presented.

    • EEWorkouts profile image


      8 years ago

      I really want to make one of my own, just never had the heart to glue and hack into a real book. Cool lens!


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