How To Hollow Out a Book

I think many of us wish we were better gift givers, or that we could actually make something that’s handmade and decent, or that we had money to buy a nice gift for someone in the first place. Or, sometimes, you want to give something that is just awesome. Something you couldn't find at a store, something so awesome it's hard to assign a value to it.

I have a solution for you. This is a fail-safe, thoughtful, impressive and most importantly—cherished gift that will actually get used and be loved. Plus, this awesome craft has a unique distinction born from decades of tradition. Sororities, fraternities, secret societies and people needing to keep things hidden while still in view have used hollowed out books to safely store important documents and items. Plus, it's really cool to be like,

"Darling, if I don't come'll find everything you need in my copy of Robert's Rules of Order, top shelf, in the den."

Anyway. Here are the specifics:

A Hollowed-Out Book Here’s an example:

I made this one for my BFF's birthday this year and put photos I printed at home and cut out inside with some ribbon from Michael’s. She loved it. (She also loves my dogs.)

The one that I made for my husband was made out of a biography of Stalin. It's super thick. His holds little love notes from me and a Mr. Goodbar.

And here’s a version for a funky-art lover:

See? I didn’t actually cut all the pages out, just about 1/2” or so. Then I shredded the remaining interior pages and bingo-bango, pretty cool stuff. Imagine this on a bookshelf for display, on a desk or mantle.

Have I convinced you yet that this is an awesome gift?

Here are the steps: 1. Select a book 2. Pick your favorite page in the book. You’re going to later glue this page on the inside back cover so it shows through when you open the book. Just slice it out and set aside. 3. Wrap the back cover in plastic wrap all the way back to the spine. Wrap the front cover and the first 5 or so pages in plastic wrap as well. Doing this prevents the covers from getting glued to the pages. You want to keep them separate. It also gives you a few normal pages up front which enhances the illusion of it being a real book. 4. Take off the jacket. With Elmer’s Glue, coat all the exterior sides of the pages generously. (It will dry clear.) I’d say drying time takes about 30 minutes. Be sure to put something heavy on it while it dries. 5. Open the book up to the first page you’re going cut. Draw a 1/2” border all around the page. Cut out the inside. I usually do the first 10-20 pages individually. 6. Glue the back page you set aside onto the inside back cover. 7. Glue the inside sides with Elmer’s Glue like you did the outside sides. Make sure you take the plastic wrap off the back cover and make sure it gets glued to the pages. Painting the inside with glue makes the book more stable and strong, and also helps to protect what you put inside it. 8. Close it up (saran wrap should still be on the front) and put something heavy on it to let it dry. (Give it at least an hour or two to dry.)

Here’s what you’ve got to clean up:

Tips: + Be patient. Don’t try and cut 10 pages at once. + Change your razor blade often. + Make sure your corners look good, don’t skimp on them. + Select a title that is appropriate to the person. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to give a devout Christian a hollowed-out Bible. + Robert’s Rules of Order is the old school book of choice for this project. + Can you use the interior pages you cut out for something else? Wall paper maybe? If you can, think about what you might be able to do with the pages before you start working. It blows to come up with a good idea for the pages after you’ve already ruined the pages. + Want to make sure you don’t have a valuable book before you start cutting? Go here.

Good places to get cheap books: + Thrift stores (Many thrift stores have 1/2 price book days) + Yard sales + Antique stores + Your own bookshelves, or a friend’s + Old textbooks

Would you let me know if you hollow out a book?