Mahogany dresser with secret compartment

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Project by Julian posted 01-18-2009 01:57 AM 21667 views 19 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was fun to do, and a bit challenging getting the hidden compartment to function perfectly, and be inconspicuous. I used African mahogany for the dresser, and baltic birch for the drawer sides and the rear compartment. For the color, I had to match an existing piece of furniture so I used transtint red-brown dye mixed with alcohol, then minwax red mahogany stain. The finish is my own mix of wipe on varnish rubbed with 0000 steel wool inbetween coats, then waxed using steel wool again. It is a very inviting piece to touch due to the silky smooth feel.

Here is a shot of the dovetailed drawers.
dovetail drawers
Here is a shot of the hole for the knob to open the secret compartment.
secret keyhole
Here is the secret compartment open
secret compartment
Here it is with the left side opened.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

22 comments so far

View codysmith's profile


8 posts in 4954 days

#1 posted 01-18-2009 02:18 AM

That’s real nice work. The secret compartment is very original.

View oldskoolmodder's profile


802 posts in 5177 days

#2 posted 01-18-2009 02:36 AM

Very nice idea and execution.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View GMoney's profile


158 posts in 5300 days

#3 posted 01-18-2009 03:04 AM

It’s a beautiful piece and well done. I know you have a lot of pics here, but I was wondering how you’d feel about maybe posting one from the front a bit more? I guess I’d just like to see the drawers in the front view. Feel free not to post anymore, it’s just a request. Anyway thanks for posting. Keep up the good work.

-- Greg, CT

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 5087 days

#4 posted 01-18-2009 03:08 AM

Very nice dresser and great idea on the hidden compartment.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5824 days

#5 posted 01-18-2009 03:45 AM

that is a great way to hide a compartment – just make it bigger! fantastic!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3672 posts in 5209 days

#6 posted 01-18-2009 04:20 AM


Nice! Very clever hidden compartment.

-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female)

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 5022 days

#7 posted 01-18-2009 05:18 AM

Thanks for the comments.

GMoney, The front shot that I took today didn’t turn out well, I’ll take some pics of it tomorrow and post them.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View SWO's profile


13 posts in 5339 days

#8 posted 01-18-2009 05:20 AM

Very nice design. How do you keep the hidden compartment closed? I can’t see any locking mechanism or latches. Just wondering. Also I have used the transtint before and liked it very much, but I never thought about following it up with a stain. Is that a better way to get a full color?

Again a great design and work.

-- No matter how many times I cut this wood it keeps coming up short.

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

541 posts in 4978 days

#9 posted 01-18-2009 05:46 AM

That’s really cool. I beautiful piece of furniture.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 5285 days

#10 posted 01-18-2009 06:18 AM

I love the color you came out with on the mahogany! It makes me want to touch it! So…what are you going to put in the secret compartment?

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View jim1953's profile


2744 posts in 5339 days

#11 posted 01-18-2009 06:43 AM

Very Nice I like the compartment to

-- Jim, Kentucky

View Viktor's profile


476 posts in 4915 days

#12 posted 01-18-2009 12:09 PM

Don’t you think that after posting this the “secret compartment” is not secret any more? Just kidding. Great design and finish!

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5296 days

#13 posted 01-18-2009 01:13 PM

that is a great idea for secret storage.

-- making sawdust....

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 5022 days

#14 posted 01-18-2009 10:33 PM

SWO, there are two catches that hold the back closed. If you look closely at the picture of the compartment opened, you’ll see them.

GMoney, I updated the post with a new shot of the front.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 5371 days

#15 posted 01-19-2009 06:29 AM

Love the hidden compartment.

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

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