Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make a Hollow Book

After seeing this post on How2DoStuff's blog, I thought a book safe would be a great project to attempt. Lesson learned: do not attempt if a.) you have arthritis or b.) you don't want to get arthritis. I'm not even 30 and my right hand and fingers feel 10x larger than they should.

You have been warned.

For this project I stopped by Goodwill to find a book I could hollow out. The winner? Book 7 of the Harry Potter series. It was cheap, quite large, and considering I've never read any of the books (::insert gasps of horror from Harry Potter fans::), I don't have any emotional ties to the series.

Step 1: Instead of making that glue mixture he suggested, I say go with Mod Podge. It has the perfect consistency. When I tried to make the glue mixture, I ended up wasting half a bottle of glue because I put in way too much water.

Step 2: When drawing your lines, I recommend two things -
     a.) draw with a pencil and
     b.) do not draw near the 1/2" closest to the edges.

By that I mean, do not draw your lines all the way to the end of the pages. If you do, you may accidentally cut the top, which is what I did below. You want to start your cut 1/2" in, not from the edge.
Example of what NOT to do - cut starting at the edge of the page

Step 3: Box cutters might work better than an x-acto knife. I used a Fiskars Precision Knife and could only cut through a few pages at a time. This project will take quite a while so if you're not patient, the more pages your blade can cut through, the better.

After 1 hour of cutting
Step 4: Be patient and be prepared for a mess. It took me 1 hour to get through approximately 115 pages but as you can see, that hole wasn't nearly big enough to hold anything. Also, the original post says, "Dump out all the little paper fuzz" but kids, there won't be a little. There will be a lot of paper fuzz. Big pieces, small pieces.. and they'll get everywhere. On the floor, the table, your cat's paws, your socks, everywhere.

Prepare for lots of clean-up!

Step 5: I didn't see the need to save a page at the very end of the process. I suppose that's meant to give it a clean look but considering my hands hurt like the Devil and I hacked the book to pieces, 1 page was not going to salvage it. Besides, the page I saved by not cutting it was the chapter page, "A Place to Hide" ...clever, no?

My husband suggested lining the inside with velvet but I kinda like how you can see text. However, after 2 hours of cutting page after page, no, it does not look as clean cut as the original. Maybe if you have a smaller book or more patience to cut one page at a time, it will be cleaner.

2 hours to cut 1 1/4" deep

$3.50 for book from Goodwill
Fiskars Precision Knife, Mod Podge and brush already on hand

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: Approximately 3 hours, 10 minutes
5 minutes to initially glue the sides
30 minutes to dry
2 hours to cut out pages
3 minutes to glue sides again
30 minutes to dry

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 4 out of 5
Even the healthiest of adults will get tired and, if using a very small precision knife, will get hand cramps. If you have the patience, go slowly and do this projects in shifts. Do not try to do it all at once!


  1. I wonder if there would be a way to do this with a tool... like if you sandwiched the pages being cut SUPER tightly between plywood or luan and went at it with a drill and a jigsaw? That probably could get really buggered up with the paper. maybe if i ever have extra time I'll test it out for ya. Or maybe someone else has already tested that idea. Cutting paper by hand just sounds painful. Kudos to you for trying it!! I love this blog.

    1. Emma, I'd love to see what you can come up with! And thank you for checking out the blog! :)