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How to make a secret book safe. Photo: Dinah Wulf
How to make a secret book safe. Photo: Dinah Wulf

What can you do with an old book? You can try giving it to a library or secondhand bookstore, but not all books are acceptable for donation, including those that have out-of-date information or are too damaged to read. Being the trash-to-treasure gal that I am, the answer to this question for me is simple: I upcycle it!

For one recent project, I made a book-safe. I’d wanted to give something like this as a gift, but I figured that I would have to buy it because it would be too difficult to make.

But I took the time to figure it out, and it was a lot easier than I thought. Here is how to make a secret book safe.


  • Thick, hardback book
  • Decoupage medium or glue-and-water mixture
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paint brush
  • Sharp knife
  • Metal straightedge

Step 1: Wrap the cover and front pages

Although the book I used was slightly damaged, I wanted to keep a few of the front pages intact to show the copyright date and an illustration. So I covered the front cover, those pages plus one extra page with plastic wrap to protect them from glue I’d be using in Step 2.

Photo: Dinah Wulf
Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 2: Brush the book’s edges

I used Mod Podge, a decoupage medium, and a paint brush to seal the three edges. Make sure you saturate them with approximately three coats.  Allow the Mod Podge to dry (about 15 minutes) between each coat. Then set something heavy on top of the book to create pressure.

Photo: Dinah Wulf
Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step 3: Mark the area to cut

Next, using a straightedge and a pencil, I marked the area I wanted to cut out.

Step 4: Make the cuts

Using a sharp knife and a metal straightedge, I carefully cut out a few pages at a time, making sure to remove small bits and pieces along the way. Take your time while doing this step.

Photo: Dinah Wulf
Photo: Dinah Wulf

Step Five: Seal the edges as you go

After I reached the desired depth, I sealed the inside edges with Mod Podge and allowed it to dry completely.

Step Six: Final touches

I then used Mod Podge around the top edges and glued the extra front page on top.  After a few minutes, I used the knife to cut out the center.  This top page gives it a nice clean look.

That’s it in six simple steps! Be sure to save the book pages for other book page craft projects. Also, consider using ribbon to cover the inside edges or decorative paper to cover the inside back for a more finished look.