How To Make the Stealth Shelf! (Homemade Concealment Shelf)

In this video I’m going to show you how
to build a super secret shelf that’ll hide spare keys, cash, passports, or anything else
you don’t want people knowing about. For this project we’re going to need a 4’
length of 1”x12” common board, a length of 1/4”x1” hardwood emboss rope, and a
4” ft length of 4-1/2” hardwood emboss crown molding. All of which you can find at the hardware
store. Crown molding is the stuff that has the angled
ends and it’s typically used for decoration, to make the corner under your ceiling look
fancy. We can get away with using a 12” chop saw
to cut out all the pieces we need, but if you don’t have one of those, you could maybe
borrow one from your neighbor, or just use hand tools instead. Start by cutting the common board into a rectangle
24” long by 11-1/4” wide, then use the same board to cut another piece 18-1/4”
long by 8-3/8” wide.

If you do it right, you can use the rest of
the board to get an 18” by 2-1/2” piece, and two 6” by 2” pieces like these. And go ahead and trim a 45º cut from the tips of those pieces while you’re at it. With your pieces of board cut, you should
have just enough scrap left over to make a few prism shapes, and you’ll see what these
are for in just a minute. Now when it comes to crown molding., it can
be extremely difficult to cut corners that actually line up. But here’s a cool little
trick for making perfect cuts every time, simply by using a bit of masking tape. Place some tape on both sides of your cutting
base, and lay the crown molding with the top side facing down. And when the molding feels like it’s locked
squarely into place, use a pen to mark a line on the tape along the top edge. Do the same thing on the other side so you
have reference lines to guide you, and this should save you about $20 from having to buy
a cutting jig.

Now the easiest way to measure the walls for
our custom shelf is by lining the bottoms of the moldings up with the 8-3/8” wide
board, then using a pen to mark where the bottoms meet the front edge. When you’re confident you understand how
it’s going together, rotate the table of your miter saw clockwise so the blade is cutting
at a 45º angle. Set your crown molding in place with the top
facing downward, and make sure it’s perfectly aligned with the marks on your tape, then
carefully cut the crown molding so the blade slices exactly through your marking. This will give your side piece a nice angle,
and you can double-check the length by lining the bottom of the molding back up with the
edge of the board, and making sure the edges at the back and front are perfectly flush. Ok that’s looking great, so let’s flip
the saw around to 45º the other direction and do the same thing with the other side
of the board. Line up the molding with the tape marks, and
cut it to it’s custom length like you did before, but this time make sure you use the
other end of the board, so you keep one of the edges flat.

At this point we've got the two sides of our
shelf finished, so let’s move on to making the front piece next. Since we’ve already got the saw angled to
the right, let's go ahead and trim a new piece so it’s pointing the right direction, then
use the length of the 18-1/4” board to mark the bottom of the molding exactly where we
need the other end cut. Flip the saw back the other way one more time,
and make your custom cut, and that’s it. The front wall of our shelf is finished, and
now if you try pressing two of the pieces together, it should make a near perfect joint
without any special tools or training.

Let’s move on to working the trim next. The trim I’m using is a 4’ length of 1/4”x1”
hardwood emboss rope, and I’m using it as decoration for the top part of my shelf. Measure it to where it matches the front and
sides of the larger board, then cut them at 45º angles so the front edges join together
as they wrap around the board.

With these final cuts, the hard work is over,
and we’ve got all the pieces we need to start putting our shelf together. So let’s
get ready to assemble. Now for a strong and sturdy shelf it’s a
good idea to run a bead of wood glue between all your connections, and I like to start
assembly with the smaller blocks, and the 18” board. Make sure the flat sides of the board are
all flush, except for the underside, where it should be slightly offset from the bottom,
with the 1” angled cut pointing down. Now we’ll need to fasten these pieces together,
and while you could just use a hammer and finishing nails, I’m using a brad nailer
I found at a garage sale for $35 instead, because it’s a lot faster, and much easier
to use. Punch one small nail in from the back to hold
the pieces together, then drill a couple of pilot holes so you can add two 2” wood screws
to hold the pieces firmly together.

This just makes the shelf a lot more durable. The next step is to add glue to the bottoms
of the crown molding, and press them into place around the sides of the board, then
fasten them to the base with finishing nails to hold them securely in place. It’s a good idea to glue and tack the corner
joints as well to help reinforce them, and I found that spacing the nails around 2”
apart seemed to work really well. Ok the bottom of our shelf is finished, so
we can start adding the 1” trim around the top plank, and for best results you’ll want
to glue it in place as well, so it’s hanging halfway off the bottom edge. Set the top of your shelf so it’s resting
on the base, and you’ll see how the overlap gives a wonderfully decorative feel to the
shelf, and completely conceals any visible gaps that might give it away. Alright our shelf is framed and looking good,
so let’s install some functionality next.

The secret to making the shelf open and close
properly are very specific cabinet hinges I found in the hardware isle of my hardware
store. They’re called mortised full overlay cup
hinges for frameless cabinets and come in a pack of 2 for under $6. (HC11SFC-NP-C5) A small adjustment needs to be made to lengthen
out the hinges, which can be done quickly and easily by loosing the bottom screw clockwise,
loosening the top screw counter-clockwise and sliding it up as far as it will go. Then simply re-tighten the screws again so
the hinge is locked into position. Just for reference, this is what the hinge
looks like before the adjustment, and here’s what it looks like after. A nice feature of cabinet hinges is they come
with templates, and you’ll need to center them 3-1/2” in from the sides and use something
like a screw to mark the center of the circle. Do the same thing from the other side as well,
then use a 1-3/8” Forstner bit to drill out the hole according to the instructions.
If you don’t have a Forstner bit, you could always chip the wood out with a chisel or
a knife as well, but only go deep enough to just barely press the hinges into place so
they rest firmly on the top of the board.

When you’ve secured the the hinges to the
base of the shelf, then it’s time to bring it all together. The hinges need to be attached to the inside
of the support bar, and I’ve found the best way to align them perfectly, is to stand everything
upright with the hinges slightly overlapping, then using the top of the shelf to gently
close the container all the way shut. When you pull the top off again, your hinges
should be, in the perfect position. So let’s mark their location, and screw
them into place.. With the support bar secured, and the top
side flush and flat, we can join it to the top of the shelf, finishing off this basic
assembly. The top of the shelf needs to be glued and
nailed down along the back edge of the board, and secured to where the arms are extending
underneath. With this final step, the most basic version
of our shelf is finished, and all for around $35 in materials! Now before we move on, it’s a really good
idea to test out the hinge mechanism by propping the shelf upright on a table and gently opening
and closing it, so you can study the movement of the bottom corner.

Notice how it doesn’t actually contact the
table through the testing cycles. This means it should’t make any dent’s or holes in
your wall once it’s installed, which is really important. It should also fit snugly and symmetrically
inside the trim around the top, and if it does, then you’re ready to install the secret
magnetic locking system that makes this whole thing work. I found some magnetic locks at my local hardware
store in the cabinet isle, sold as child safety locks for kid-proofing cupboards. You can see that when a super strong rare
earth magnet comes within about an inch of the lock, it’ll magically activate the mechanism,
allowing it open and close.

You can get away using just one, or as many
of them as you want, and by hiding them inside the compartment, no-one will know they even
exist at all. Ok it’s time to bring back the wooden prisms
we saved from earlier, and choose where want our locks to go. we Glue and nail the prisms to the inside walls
of the crown molding anywhere you want, but make sure they’re flush with the top lip
because this will create a flat inner edge, for us to screw the locking plates into position.

Now go find something like a tube of toothpaste
because we’re going to life hack these locks into place. Add a generous amount of toothpaste to the
top ridges of the locking plates, and you’ll see that when we close the shelf, then open
it again, it leaves markings exactly where the locks need to go. Use these marks as a reference point for securing
the main part of the unit to the underside of the of the shelf. And don’t worry if
you’re a little off because there is some wiggle room you can play with until you get
it perfected. Oh yeah, I have to mention here it’s extremely
important to manually move the lock into the closed position, so you don’t accidentally
close the shelf and lock yourself out prematurely.

With the switches locked in the open position,
you can close and re-open the shelf for testing purposes, without the headache of having to
magnetically unlock them each time. Now at this point we’ve got a high quality,
and fully functional secret shelf, at a price point about as low as it gets. The only thing
left to do now, is make it look good. For my shelf I decided to use a red chestnut
wood stain, and a fast-drying polyurethane semi-gloss to give it a nice rich color and
make it shine.

I removed all the hinges and hardware before
I stained my shelf, so they’d stay clean and professional looking. Then I went back
to the hardware store and got some diamond plated aluminum tread, for decoration. I cut a place for the hinges, then screwed
it on using small round-head screws, and reattached all the hinges and magnets into their respective
places. Now to prevent our shelf from falling open
and banging down into the wall, I’m using some #6 sheet metal screws that are 1/2”
long, a couple #6 flat washers, and a couple feet of Jack chain. Let’s cut two pieces of chain seven and
a half inches long, then use the washers and machine screws to secure one end of the chain
to the centers of the 45º cuts on the tips of the support arms. The other ends screw
to the bottom corners of the base. With this simple addition, you can see that
when the shelf is opened, it hangs neatly at a forty five degree angle, giving the whole
system a smooth and professional look.

And a bit more functionality as well. The magnetic key that came with my child lock
is a little too obvious for the system, so I got a couple Neodymium magnets off the internet,
which are really small, but extremely strong. The cool thing about this approach is now
you can drill a few smalls holes into random decorations and instantly convert them into
covert magnetic keys. I left my magnets exposed so you could see
them, but if you stick a price tag or glue a piece of felt to the bottoms, no one would
ever know.

With that final step, our Stealth Shelf is
completely finished and ready for testing, so let’s explore how it works in the real
world. When you want to open your shelf, simply position
your select decorations in the secret locations that only you know about, to active the child
locks inside. Then push up gently from the bottom, and if
you got the combination right, it’ll click open and reveal your secret stash inside. As easy as that you’ve got quick and easy
access to whatever you need, and if want, you can even install a little motion activated
LED that’ll turn on whenever you crack the case. This turns your shelf into a cool looking
display case, but also doubles as an emergency flashlight if the power ever goes out, or
if you need to locate an intruder in the dark. I found mine online for about $10, and I’ll
put a link in the description to where you can get it. By the way they’re also magnetic, so they
conveniently clip back into place in seconds.

Now if you’re concerned about kids getting
into your shelf, then simply hide your magnets in heavier objects. Heavier objects won’t respond to the magnetic
fields the same way, so it’ll be a lot more difficult to find any secret lock locations. And if you install more than one lock in your
system, it’ll make it exponentially tricker to figure out. When you’ve got your secret safe loaded
up and ready to close, simply move your covert keys out of the way, and press the bottom
of the shelf back into place until you hear it click.

It instantly transforms into a nice piece
of home decor. While secretly keeping your valuables tucked away inside. Now if you want to go one step further, you
could always make a magnetic baseplate as well. I ordered a few magnets with countersink holes,
and screwed them onto the bottom, then covered them with sticky-back foam from the craft
store. The magnets are more than strong enough to
hold defensive weapons securely in place, and make it easy to click them out, then lock
back on again when they’re ready go back into hiding. Now of course you can customize your shelf
any way you want to, and make it any color you desire. I used a can of black spray paint to make
this one, and you can see it looks just as good, and nicely compliments my workshop.

The magnetic lock for this one’s in a different
spot, and hides my CO2 powered BB gun out of sight, and out of mind. These shelves also hide things like spare
keys, passports, or any extra cash you don’t want anyone to know about. It’ll make electronics virtually disappear
when your kids need a break, or conceal those little indulgences you might have, that you
don’t want anyone getting into. Well now you know how to use commonly available
materials from the hardware store to make a decorative, functional, and multi purpose
“floating shelf”, on a budget. And don’t forget. They still work as shelves
for displaying pictures and other random trinkets as well. Well that’s it for now. If you liked this
project, perhaps you’ll like some of my others.

Check them out at

As found on YouTube

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