I came into the shop this past week with all intentions to finish construction on the secretary I’ve been working on forever. I have developed numerous secret compartments for this piece – I plan to share these via video next week on this blog. I could not, however, pass on the opportunity to include a couple more secrets as I wrapped up the build.
I have never seen secret compartments built into desk lid supports, or lopers as they are called by some. I challenged myself to make it happen. At first I searched for a small something that I could slip into place, but when I came up empty I became creative and borrowed an idea from Roy Underhill’s grease pot (built and posted by The Village Carpenter. See it here.) My idea was simple and it worked.
First, at the rear of the loper, mark the area that will become your lid as shown in the photo. I used my dovetail layout jig to make a slight angle on the top face, then connected the lines to create the 1/4″ lid. A light scribeline helps start and guide your saw.
I used a Japanese small rip Dozuki from Lee Valley & Veritas because it had the thinnest blade of all the saws I have in the shop and a thin cut is less likely to be noticed.
With my top cut free, I drilled a 3/4″-diameter hole into my 1″ wide supports, but any size hole works. My drill press made sure the hole stayed true without peeking out one side or the other. The key here is to drill deep enough to hold whatever you think might be stored in this compartment – I suspect rolls of cash. You do not, however, want to drill completely through the loper – not much of a compartment if your goods fall out the bottom.
All that is left is to reattach the lid. Mark the lid for your screw and make sure there is enough swing in the lid and that your lid clears the compartment when it’s fully open. (My screws were centered at 3/8″ from the ends while the holes were drilled 1 1/4″ from the ends.) The screws I used are perfect for this job because the threads stop before the screw head. This allows the lid to pivot on the screw shaft without catching any threads.
Hold the lid in place as you drill a pilot hole for your screws. Install your screws and the job is done. Tension holds the lid closed until you unveil the secret.
Below is a short video that shows how you access and use these compartments.
Build Something Great!