Hidden Compartment Floating Shelf

Adam Gabbert
by Adam Gabbert
7 Materials
4 Hours
Everyone has special things they would like to keep safe. Hidden even, in some cases. And with reclaimed wood being all the rage these days, I figured I would make a reclaimed wood hidden compartment floating shelf for some friends. It's a mouthfull I know, but it sure was fun to build and use!
The first thing you want to do is check out the video. It's an in-depth 'how-to' on this floating shelf. I made it out of reclaimed wood (old fence boards), plywood, and some easy to acquire hardware. Alright, now it's time for the fun stuff. Let's build this thing!
The first thing I did was join the sides of some of these reclaimed boards to make up the panels. The jointer puts a perfectly straight edge on the boards so there aren't any gaps when you glue them up.
Then I set up a feather board and put a groove on the sides of the same boards. These grooves accept a spline that I also cut on the table saw. The splines add strength and keep the boards lined up when you get to gluing.
Now for the glue up. I added glue into the grooves, the splines and the faces of all the boards.
And then applied clamping pressure. The boards on top are called cauls, and they're used to keep the panel straight and flat.
I milled down some 3/4" plywood for the interior boxes on the table saw and radial arm saw.
And added box joints to hold the interior box together. I used box joints because they're strong, and this thing is going to cantillever out from the wall.
I applied glue to every box joint surface and glued those up too. Letting them dry overnight.
Then I attached the top plywood panel with wood glue and finish nails. I ripped this piece of plywood down on the table saw.
I drilled out the pockets for the cabinet hinges that operate the bottom door panel.
Then I attached the Euro style cabinet door hinges to the box and the bottom door panel.
I cut the panels to finish width and length on the table saw. And then attached them to the box with wood glue and finish nails.
Then I attached all of the Velcro that held the important stuff and installed the magnetic locking mechanism. I was really pleased with just how well the magnetic child lock worked.
I drilled into a decorative block my wife gave me with a Forstner bit, making a hole that the magnet from the childproofing lock came from would fit into snugly.
And then I super glued the magnet into the block. Creating the decorative key.
And that's it! We're done with the hidden compartment floating shelf! To open it, all you need to do is slide the magnetic key under the locking mechanism, push up a little, and you have your important stuff right there. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.

And again, thanks for checking this out. We'll see you on the next one.

— Adam
Suggested materials:
  • Reclaimed Wood   (A fence I tore down.)
  • 3/4" Plywood   (Had it in my shop.)
  • Cabinet Door Hinges   (Pulled them from a kitchen remodel.)
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4 of 8 comments
  • Brenda  S. Brenda S. on Dec 05, 2016
    This is so awesome!!
  • Meem Kaplan Meem Kaplan on Mar 31, 2020

    What a great use for what would normally be a wasted space! I should make several of these for my craft/hideout room! Paint on top of the shelf and brushes inside. Much better than a peg board!

    • Donna Donna on Jan 25, 2021

      Who is after your paint brushes, that you have to hide them? 😂