Hidden Compartments in Furniture

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Forum topic by MarkTheDark posted 12-01-2008 05:45 PM 71352 views 19 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 4000 days

12-01-2008 05:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hidden compartments resource question

I was perusing a furniture construction book that had two examples of ideas for hidden compartments. Apparantly, these little sneaky spots were popular in desks at a time when household safes were uncommon. People would hide important documents from thieves and looters. I’ve also read other places that some craftsmen would have upwards of 50+ compartments in a single desk. Ahhhh… the good old days.

Does anyone know of a book or website that features furniture or pieces with hidden compartments?

-- Mark - "Wood - it's my schtik."

13 replies so far

View lew's profile


12877 posts in 4289 days

#1 posted 12-01-2008 05:54 PM

Here is a start:

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Josh's profile


119 posts in 4472 days

#2 posted 12-01-2008 06:32 PM

That is a cool article.

View irishcolleen's profile


66 posts in 4015 days

#3 posted 12-04-2008 07:46 AM

I made a couple of cabinets with hidden compartments. I’m not very good at drawing, but here is hopefully an explaination of what I did. It actually was an error on my part, and I had to save the project- too many late nights…... I am anxious to find some resources on this subject, as now I am really interested in making more projects with hidden compartments!

View Chris Cunanan's profile

Chris Cunanan

339 posts in 4014 days

#4 posted 12-04-2008 07:56 AM

i accidentally wandered and went to this chinese guy’s export ebay store

looks kinda similar to one someone posted here recently, it’s too bad you can find stuff like this for less than it would cost for any of the wood, probably even just the brass thing in the middle lol

View MarkTheDark's profile


10 posts in 4000 days

#5 posted 12-08-2008 02:03 PM

Below are some other links I found. I would still like a book for my shelf. Hmmmm… perhaps I should write my own :)

Let’s see what else we can find…

-- Mark - "Wood - it's my schtik."

View khop's profile


134 posts in 4210 days

#6 posted 12-08-2008 02:40 PM

Hey Mark, hidden compartments are fun. I have built some of my pieces with them. I try to include a space in them for a time capsual. If the piece is for family I will include pictures, cash and even prayers in the contents.
Just thought I’d add, Thanks

-- How am I doing? Better than I deserve. Dave Ramsey

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4252 days

#7 posted 12-09-2008 01:40 AM

I like the one from the President’s desk in the movie, “National Treasure” – quite ingenious. You can see it here

Fast forward to about 5:30.

Real interesting subject. I make larger mantel clocks, and this would be an interesting selling point.

-- Have a blessed day!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4302 days

#8 posted 12-09-2008 02:09 AM

i am looking to do some and one idea is on little drawers make them a bit smaller than going all the way back. then at the back have a false back that slides over to reveal stuff or another drawer that can be pulled out. those are pretty cool and most people will never notice them.

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4252 days

#9 posted 12-09-2008 02:16 AM

Here’s some more:



Awesome book on Amazon

Cool YouTube Video:

-- Have a blessed day!

View polopapa's profile


10 posts in 3579 days

#10 posted 01-25-2010 01:05 AM

I’m looking for ideas on how to incorporate a hidden compartment into some bookcases. No drawers to use as sources of concealment, but I’m working around a fireplace mantel, and will end up with about a 4.5 inch cavity between exterior of book case and inside. That seems to be the area with the most opportunity. The only thought I have is to use a rosetta or some such decorative item at the bottom of the stiles, and use it as a false front for a drawer. Any thoughts appreciated.

View Roger491127's profile


3 posts in 3205 days

#11 posted 02-03-2011 09:36 AM

I made my first post on this forum in a thread about the metric system, but the way I found this forum was searching for “secret compartments in furniture”.

When I studied at the University of Uppsala in Sweden I rented a small room from an old widow who lived 20 meter from the university building.

Her dead husband had been a ship captain and the big piece of furniture in my room had belonged to him.

It was very big, 7 ft high, 5 ft wide and 3 ft deep. The upper half had a writing desk I could turn down to horizontal and use for as a writing desk. This revealed many small drawers, decorations like small towers and a central hole probably used for an icon or a photo. The lower half contained many drawers, smaller and bigger.

I spent a year looking for secret compartments and found 60-80 of them. It looked like it was made from 1 inch planks but all such planks were hollow and the thing was actually made from 4mm wood sheets. The decorative towers were hollow, when I removed the top I found a circular tube which could be used for paper money rolls or papers.

Most drawers had hidden spaces at the back end of the drawer, and some had false bottoms. When the drawer was removed completely I found hidden compartments at the side of the drawer space. I could also reach in and up and back towards me and found a shelf there.

When I grabbed the end of a 1 inch plank and pulled I found a big but thin compartment suitable for maps or sea charts.

Most hidden compartments were empty but I found several papers with text like I owe you 1000 guilders, written in Dutch and dated more than a hundred years ago. I found many keys, some single keys, a few key-rings with 10 or more keys, all rusty and looking like they were 100 years old.

It was a very interesting furniture and I still wish I owned such a thing.
It was a very safe place to hide things in because it looked like it weighed a ton, so thieves would have thought they needed a fork lift to move it.

But as it had so many hidden hollow spaces it weighed only around 200kg (450 pounds). I could lift one side of it with my hands and I knew I could lift 100kg.

-- Roger491127 Sweden

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4428 days

#12 posted 02-03-2011 10:40 AM

to give away how one puts a secret into a piece of work

defeats the purpose :)

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View sondo007's profile


2 posts in 2288 days

#13 posted 08-07-2013 03:47 PM

Great topic, I’m currently researching a similar idea. I’m diagramming out a Mobile Workshop cabinet. I want to make a false back panel that opens like a door, but is locked with magnets. I have the lock idea down. The door assemble is giving me fits. Also I’m making a kick plate at the bottom with a hidden compartment. Again using strong magnets or industrial Velcro to keep in place. The rest of it will be on casters and just plain plywood with shelving and peg boards on the side.

Anybody got thought or designs on how to build such a thing. I find bits and piece around the internet, but just can’t get it all together yet. Thanks guys.

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