The Old Hollowed-Out-Book Trick
We’ve all seen the hollowed-out book, but there’s not much room in one of those. Instead, use several books with a plywood box attached to the back. If you have a band saw for cutting out the pages, great. If not, you can use a jigsaw. (After all, books are just a form of wood.)
If the sides of the books will be visible, fold back the covers of the books on the left and right sides of the assembly before cutting. Build a plywood box to fit the opening and glue the book parts to the box with construction adhesive. The disadvantage? You can see inside the box on low shelves, so you need to display it so the opening is above eye level.
Right Out in the Open
It doesn’t have to be an old vacuum cleaner. Any common household item that has a cavity will work. Think old printers, computer towers, children’s toys, etc. (Just be sure family members know about it so your valuables don’t get donated or tossed!) For easy access, choose an item that opens instantly, like a vacuum cleaner bag compartment. For more security, choose an item with a cover that screws shut.
Cut out a stud space opening to fit a return air grille. Cut off the grille screws and glue just the heads in place. Run four drywall screws into the corners of the opening so they fit just inside the rim of the grille. Then glue rare earth magnets to the back of the grille so they line up with the screw heads.
False Stair Tread
It takes some effort, but if you can, free a tread from your stairs. Then attach a piano hinge to the back. It’ll be almost invisible and you’ll have a good place to stash valuables.
Roll up some cash, stick it in a medicine bottle or any other watertight container, and bury it in a potted plant. For quicker access and to keep dirt from getting under your fingernails, place a stone or pine cone over it. Not many burglars are going to be excavating around your houseplants.