I have been refining my technique, and I think I have a pretty good way to build a book safe. There are a lot more ways to do it, but this one seems to work well for me.
First things first, go buy a book. I like going to Libraries, they usually have a book sale where you can pick up something thick, old, and cheap (much like me). You can go to yard sales, book stores, all sorts of places. Pick a good book too. If you have a serious library, with Naughty Nanny and the Fanny Folly’s sticking out of a series of treatises regarding Edgar Allen Poe, someone will know what is up. Pick for what you want to put in it, too. If you want to smuggle a Colt 1911, get something large – a Gideon pocket New Testament won’t hide much.
List of Materials:
Small Foam brush
2 to 4 clamps of some sort
Router with regular drill bit looking type bit
Razor knife/box cutter
1 piece of wood, 2”X16ish”
2 pieces 2”X6ish”
1 piece 1”x16”
I piece, 8”wide by 16” long (these wood sizes aren’t accurate, it’s what I had lying around that worked for me
4 2.5 – 3 inch wood screws
Drill bit slightly larger than the screw shank
First step, thumb a few pages into the book, probably 20 or so. Slide a wide piece of waxed paper between the first 20 pages and the rest of the book, wrap and fold it back around and tape the wax paper to itself, like you are making an old school book cover. Do kids even still do that? I know it isn’t worth it in college, they’ll come out with the next edition before you can dog ear page one, because accounting principles change oh so much. $400 a pop, I’m in the wrong line of work.
Repeat this step for the last 20 pages of the book. Now the pages and the book cover are wrapped in wax paper.
Step 2: Break out the Modge Podge. I clamp it down, to keep it from flapping open when I move it around. Wipe the foam brush around the edge of the binding, getting a good, thick coat in. I let it set for an hour or so, and coat it three times. After you let it set for a few hours that last time, use the razor knife to help you separate the waxed paper covered bits from the glued bit. Trim any glue that is hanging out or overlapping.
Step 3: Open thine book up to the first glued page. With the pencil, trace out your shape. Use rough shapes, we’ll do details with the router later. Then get your razor out and get busy. Keep tracing and cutting, a few pages at a time. It is easier if you do a big shape, smaller ones take forever. Don’t tear the pages at all, make sure you cut every bit. Try to keep the same line, but even if you don’t, a lot will be fixed in editing (routing) later. You can do partial thickness if you’d like, but I go through the entire glued section. When I know I’m getting close to the bottom, I flip it over and cut up into the already cut-out bit so that I don’t cut into my 20 free pages at the end. I also put the larger wood piece down, after folding back the 20 pages and back cover.
Step 4: Once you’ve cut out as much as you are going to, assemble your wood. It’s a good idea to route (I use the table saw) the wood where it will join, so that it gives you a single layer. Use the thin piece against the fold, the short pieces for the side, and the longer, thicker piece for the outside long edge. Drill holes in the overhang section of the 2 long pieces – slightly larger than the shank of the screw you will drive down through them. Frame the area you will route (I find it easier to work in sections, rather than do the whole book edge at once) with the wood fame. Flip the back and back 20 all the way back, and put the larger piece of wood back there – screw the frame into it.
Step 5: Route! Rout? Using the router, work on your edges. If it is going to be too deep for the router bit, do everything on one side then flip the book over, reapply the frame, and redo. If you are only going partial thickness, take care to stay at the depth you set, or you’ll be full thickness before you know it. The frame keeps the book tight, so the pages don’t separate, as well as giving you a platform to keep the router level with. I made one book for my brother, so he would have a place to store his 1911. The router came in super handy for the hammer area, muzzle area, and sights. Of course, he doesn’t actually store his gun there because he has kids, and all guns need to be stored in a safe, locked area, and separate from any sources of ammo (be told). But in theory, he totally could!
When you are routing, make sure not to move too fast, or the pages will tear. Also, don’t stay too long in one place, or you will start burning the paper. Keep edging into the paper, if you go for too much at once, you will either burn the paper, tear it, or push scraps of paper into the glued section, which will make it bulge and you will have to go get another book. Take your time, pay close attention to detail, and leave room for error.
Step 6: Once your book internals are finished, take apart everything and look it over. I had to re-glue, so I wrapped the 20 and covers in wax paper, used 2 boards and the clamps, and re-applied Modge Podge and let it sit overnight. Once it is done to your liking, lightly brush a little glue onto the free page at the top and bottom of the glued section. Using the razor knife, cut the top page into a nice, neat final draft. This page will cover up the pencil marks, burn marks, and any other little oopsies you may have caused.
Congrats! You are done! Now fill with your favorite flask, cigars, ammo, weed, gun fund, naughty playing cards, or anything else that you need to keep from prying eyes. I may have one at my office with Fireball Mini shots for rough afternoons, who can say!