small beats headphones Hidden Wall Compartment
How about a hidden compartment in your home that is virtually invisible? Even nicer if it locks with an unseen lock. And really cool if the key is hidden in plain sight! If this sounds like fun, then something like this might be a project for you.
I had always like the idea of having a hidden room, or space in my home. When we were re doing our den, including installing some board and batten wainscoting, I realized this might finally be my chance. Board and batten is a style of wainscoting with alternating widths of wood, laid atop one another. This could easily lend itself to such a hidden space.
What I really like about this project is that it used all standard components (child safety locks, specific cuts of lumber, off the shelf hinges) to make the hidden space AND the storage spot for the key.
I hope it inspires you to try something similar!
Let’s get started!Step 1: Materials ToolsTot Lok with extra key 3 1/2″ square rosette block moulding, 2 Cabinet hinges 1 x 8 ship lap board for the door 1 x 8 tongue and groove boards however many to cover the wall(s) that will have wainscoting 1 x 2 boards spacers between the pairs of the 1 x 8’s. Should have half as many of these as 1 x 8’sNails, construction adhesive, caulk, paint, other wood needed for baseboards and for plate rail at the top of the wainscoting, etc.
The Tot Lok is a child safety latch that can be installed on the inside of a cabinet and opened with a strong magnet. The magnet key sold with this device looks like a drawer knob. You only need one locking mechanism, but following this plan you will want two keys.
The rosette is a square decorative piece that is often used for the top corners of doors and windows. The 3 1/2″ square one that I found matched the size of the Tot Lok key and will be drilled out to be the stash spot for the key. I picked up these at Home Depot, one for each top corner of the door.
The cabinet hinges that I used were 175 degree fully concealed hinges. From the exterior there is nothing visible, and they swing open nice and wide. I ordered them from Rockler.
The ship lap boards were a lucky find at the store. Unlike the common tongue and groove boards which have a U shaped groove on one edge, these have a single tongue that is offset from the center. Commonly these might be used for siding where placed horizontally they can help water drain away. But this single projection matches up nicely with the tongue and groove boards that I used throughout the rest of the wainscoting. I only needed one of these boards in a 12′ length, which I cut to make the two 5′ pieces. For this to remain a hidden door it is crucial that this be of the same dimensions as your main boards. Just imagine if your entire room was lined with 8″ boards and you had this one 10″ board “hiding” your stash. Not too cool. You may opt to make your wainscoting of different dimensions, or in a different pattern.
Compound mitre saw. There are a lot of boards to cut, and likely you’ll have some tough angles. Oscillating tool. Great for tight places. Caulking gun. I used construction adhesive to hold the boards to the wall, and also lots of white caulk to fill in various gaps. Pin nailer. I used this a lot, right after applying the adhesive. Chances are the adhesive holds the boards more firmly, but the nailing holds the boards in place while the stick ’em dries. 1″ Forstner bit. This is a drill bit that creates flat bottom holes. It should be just wide enough to let the small end of the Tot Lok key to fit in. I used this for drilling out the rosettes, using a friend’s drill press. Likely I could have done this with a sharp spade bit, and a handheld drill,
but it likely would also have looked crappy.
CAUTIONS: This work involves power tools and other exciting things, so be smart and pay attention. Besides that, you’ll need to open up a wall that could have any number of things inside of it; electrical lines, plumbing, gas lines, creepy crawly things, hidden treasure, who knows? Whatever you can do to determine in advance what may or may not be in that wall will help you choose the best spot to undertake such a project, how to do it, or maybe even make you realize your home isn’t suitable for this. Be careful.
Next stepStep 2: The Wainscoting
To make a door that blends in with the surroundings, sizing things is crucial. I put in 1 x 8 tongue and groove boards in pairs, followed by a plain 1 x 2. This combination made a pattern of 16″ wide panels due to the true dimensions of the nominal lumber. I thought this 16″ pattern would be important, to match the usual spacing of the wall studs, but since I was gluing the boards up, it was immaterial. In the photos, the 1 x 8’s are green. The 1 x 2’s are hidden, covered by 1 x 4’s painted white.
First, I figured out the spacing of the boards so that electrical outlets and switches would be in the spaces with the green boards. I was lucky in that the way the room was laid out with doors, built in furniture, and a fireplace, that the wainscoting was naturally broken into 4 sections. This way it was easier to modify the placement of the pattern to fit the electrical outlets. Each outlet or switch needed to have an extender box put on it to bring it out flush with the new wall.
I put in a simple “placeholder” baseboard that would be covered later. This allowed me to set the tongue and groove boards at a constant height above the floor. Be sure to “dry fit” every board to make sure it will fit before using the adhesive. If all is good, apply the construction adhesive to the back of the 1×8, check that it is plumb, and nail it in place. Do the same with the next 1×8. In between every two 1×8’s place a 1×2. Apply adhesive, check plumb, nail. Repeat.
To install the white 1×4’s I cut a piece of scrap to hold those boards to the matching height. Center them over the 1×2, apply adhesive, nail. One of these overlapping 1 x 4 will function as a cover for the gap caused by the door.
Be sure to choose the location of any such space carefully. I was sure to choose an interior wall so that I would not have a cold spot and have to deal with insulation. I also wanted it to be accessible,
and with a little checking around I found a spot just behind the entrance door to my den. When I carefully removed the drywall from the space I realized there was an electrical line running horizontally through the space. This actually was a blessing. I made a small wooden conduit to protect the electrical line and this became a built in shelf in the space!