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Invisible ink, spy cameras, secret passageways… if it’s incognito, we love it.
Our yen for all things surreptitious and sneaky has inspired us to craft this clansdestine camera case out of a hollowed-out book.
It’s highly useful for tricking enemy spies into believing you are a harmless bookworm instead of the undercover photo ninja that you are.
Pull your fedora down, tighten your trenchcoat, and let’s get secretive.
Where to Find Camera-Worthy Books
Look for hardcover books at thrift stores, used bookstores or the free-to-good-home giveaway cart at the library.
Pick one with a cover you like (obviously) but one that you won’t mind not reading. Choose a book that’s a bit larger and thicker than your camera. Take your camera with you for comparison and err on the larger side if you’re in doubt.
What You’ll Need
- Compact camera
- A small hardcover book, slightly thicker than the width of your camera
- White glue or Mod-Podge
- Small paintbrush
- Small container to hold glue
- Wax paper
- Heavy books or weights
- X-acto knife and extra blades
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Decorative paper, ribbon or fabric (optional)
- Materials to make book closure (see Step 10)
Step 1: Measure Your Camera
Write the measurements down, and add 1/4 to 1/2 inch to each dimension to make sure the hole in the book will be large enough for your camera.
Step 2: Glue the Pages Together
Choose which page you want to be on top when you look at the hollowed-out part of the book, and hold it and the front cover out of the way.
Use a paintbrush to paint the outside edges of the book’s pages with a thin layer of glue. Then open the back cover and paint the inside with glue so it sticks to the rest of the pages.
Keep a paper towel handy to clean up accidental drips and smears.
Step 3: Oppress the Book Very Cruelly
Pile a lot of heavy books on top and let it sit until completely dry. It shouldn’t take more than two hours, maybe as little as thirty minutes.
Step 4: X Marks the Spot
You can eyeball it to make sure the hole will be centered, or use a ruler for ultimate technical precision.
Step 5: Cut Out the Center
Cut through just a few pages at a time, removing them as you go. Change blades often to keep your cuts nice and clean.
This is gonna take a while, so take a few breaks to keep yourself from getting impatient or sloppy with the knife. And for the love o’ Pete, keep them fingers out of the way!
Step 6: Clean it Up
When the hole is finally ready, clean out the stray paper scraps and snippety bits. If the sides of the hole aren’t as tidy as you’d like, you can sand them down.
To do this, tape a piece of sandpaper to a flat, narrow object like a small block of wood or even a sturdy ruler. Sand the edges to even them up, keeping the flat edge parallel to the sides of the hole.
Step 7: Glue the Pages Together, um, Again
Slip the wax paper and/or scrap paper back between the front pages and the glued ones, and weigh the book down under heavy books until dry.
This will take a while because air doesn’t circulate well inside the book. Once it’s mostly dry and well pressed, you can open the book and let it air dry without the books on top.
Step 8: Glue On the Top Page
When dry, use an X-acto knife to slice carefully through the first page to reveal the hole underneath. Now you’ve got a nice clean top page free of marks and glue stains.
If you like, you can use decorative paper instead of a page from the book, and glue the same paper onto the inside of the cover so it matches.
Step 9: Fancy It Up
Cut pieces of decorative paper or ribbon to size and glue them to the edges.
If the hole is too big for your camera, you can pad it a little by covering the edges and/or bottom with thick cloth. Velvet or chenille work well as long as they don’t shed linty bits that wind up inside your camera.
Use fabric glue to stick the fabric down, and tuck the raw edges of fabric under so it doesn’t fray.
Step 10: Shut It Up
- Glue velcro tabs or large snaps to the inside cover and top page.
- Use a plain old rubber band.
- Glue a ribbon to the back cover, wrap it around the book and add a velcro closure for quick unwrapping.
Our favorite method was to sew a vintage button to the front cover (using an awl to punch holes we could sew through). Then we looped a length of heavy-duty thread around the button, wrapped it around the book, and tied it around the button like the closure on a manila envelope.
- OK, so it’s not photo-related, but this would make a neat disguise for your Kindle, n’est-ce pas?
- Make a long strap to hold the book shut and hang it over your shoulder. Voila! Ãœber-hip incognito camera bag at your service!
- Nobody says you can only keep cameras in here. Stow your wallet, or makeup, or top-secret government microfiche… go to How to Do Stuff for instructions to make a full-size secret stash book.