Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hollow Book

Certain persons I am married to wanted external digital storage, but a hard drive or thumb drive is kinda dull. I decided to hollow out a book to hide an external hard drive in. This is actually really easy if you've got a few common power tools.

For this project, here's what I used:

  • useless old book
  • thin plywood
  • screws longer than the book is thick
  • glue
  • foil or wax paper

How To Do The Thing

Start with a book you don't want. In my case, it was a collection of sermons published in 1902, which I picked up for free from the discards bin at the local used book store.

Cut out two pieces of plywood to approximately the shape and size of a page of the book. Sandwich the pages to cut between the pieces of plywood and clamp in place.

Outline the space to cut out. I'd try to leave at least a half-inch margin around the edges, but you may be more daring. Drill a couple of screws through the pages in the part to be cut out and remove the clamps. Get heads of the screws as close to flush with the wood as possible. The screws will hold the pages together (that's key to the whole enterprise; the drill and saw will cut the pages easily, but you need clamps and screws to keep the whole thing from flying apart and tearing), but you want them out of the way for when you cut.

Drill out the corners of the space you've outlined to cut. You want the holes to be big enough to fit the blade of the saw into. I used a half-inch bit, which is more than generous.

Put the drill blade through one of the holes and start cutting along the outline. I used a bench vice to hold it in place during cutting, and extra clamps around the edges just to be sure things didn't come apart. You can never over-clamp these things. The center should come out in a nice, solid block.

Dilute the glue with some water for a brushable consistency and brush the inside cut edges. Insert sheets of foil or wax paper between the block of glued pages and the covers, weight or clamp lightly, and let dry.

Once the glue had dried, peel off the foil/wax paper. You now have a hollow book ready to use. For example, to put a USB external hard drive in.

What I did differently from a simple program of "hollow out the book" here was:

1) Cut out about half the pages rather than all the way through the book. This gave me a platform to run a string through, to hold the drive in place.

2) Slice a notch into one edge with an Xacto knife to make a channel for the USB cable.