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Thread: Secret Compartments: Locking mechanisms questions??

  1. #1

    Secret Compartments: Locking mechanisms questions??

    For sometime now I've been thinking about building boxes or furniture with secret compartments. Ironically, when my November 2009 issue of PWW magazine arrived there's an article about that very topic.

    Unfortunately, the details are about as clear as mud in terms of the locking mechanisms and how they actually are fitted into a piece. Furthermore, when I search the net for details on techniques of incorporating secret compartments into a project, you guessd it, it's a secret!

    Does anyone know of a book or a website that goes into details for building the secret compartments and explains the use of Quaker Locks (also called spring locks) and the sliding dovetail key?

    I've also read about compartments that are accessed by a series of "locks". As I understand it, you move one thing and then move something else, maybe 2-4 steps in sequence, in order to get to the compartment.

    I'm really more interested in a small space in boxes. I think they'd make great Christmas gifts. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  2. #2
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    Was puzzling over that same article last night. I believe I've got the "Quaker Lock" figured out. If my understanding is correct, it's mounted on the bottom of the drawer, and faces forward. It catches against the inside of the rail on the face frame at the bottom front of the drawer and prevents the drawer from opening. You have to have access from below the drawer to press the spring flush against the bottom of the drawer to release the lock and open the drawer. It's like when you have too much junk in a drawer, or the contents shift and jam against the face frame when you try to open the drawer.

    Now, if someone can explain the operation of the "sliding dovetail key".
    Last edited by Tom Veatch; 10-04-2009 at 1:37 PM.
    Tom Veatch
    Wichita, KS
    USA

  3. #3
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    FWW has a number of articles + video(s) on this topic, esp "quaker lock" (but they don't use that term) in a video by Lonnie Bird. Ya needa pay up to get access, tho. Very good explanation with multiple examples.

    I recall reading something on the sliding dovetail key, but can't remember where. IIRC correctly, the point is that you have a piece of trim/molding that uses a sliding dovetail. Instead of gluing front to allow for cross-grain expansion of cabinet/carcass, you leave it "free". Then, you can slide this out of the way to access the trigger on the secret compartment lock - kinda double-secret.

    I also saw one where the sliding dovetailed piece moved out of the way to allow you to slide out a tall, narrow box in the back of a cabinet. But, again - don't remember where.

    Not too long ago, I built an heirloom-quality blanket chest for a teenage neice. Unconfirmed rumor has it that there is a secret compartment with an emergency $100 bill in it, that also has room for dope + condoms - just kidding of course - I am positive teenagers today are more sedate than I was as a 60's-70's hippie. But her mother would go nuclear over that, so it is only a rumor.
    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    Or close the wall up with our English dead!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Search for "Puzzle Boxes" and you will find several sources, including posts here.
    The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.
    - Marcus Aurelius ---------------------------------------- -------------

  5. #5
    Thanks for the tip to search for puzzle boxes. This short video is worth watching just to see the scroll saw in the first few seconds of the video!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeYA_...1&feature=fvwp
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Veatch View Post
    Was puzzling over that same article last night. I believe I've got the "Quaker Lock" figured out. If my understanding is correct, it's mounted on the bottom of the drawer, and faces forward. It catches against the inside of the rail on the face frame at the bottom front of the drawer and prevents the drawer from opening. You have to have access from below the drawer to press the spring flush against the bottom of the drawer to release the lock and open the drawer. It's like when you have too much junk in a drawer, or the contents shift and jam against the face frame when you try to open the drawer.

    Now, if someone can explain the operation of the "sliding dovetail key".
    Hey Tom, You got it figured out. I found a video that shows that Quaker Lock or spring lock in detail.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-KH7-3-6wc

    This one is on a writing desk, not sure of the correct name for the piece of furniture. On this piece one of the "columns" is the secret compartment. The lock on the side rather than the bottom and is accessed by a pin hole in the side when you remove a drawer. The video is worth a thousand words so I'll just hush and here's the link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-KH7-3-6wc

    It's so cool and looks like fun to build. If you do figure out the sliding dovetail lock, please post the info. Thanks.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  7. #7
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    I put secret trays on the bottom of many peices of furniture I build. I route four upside down "J's" into the skirt and raise the floor a bit allowing a shallow tray with dowels in the sides that they can take out by lifting and moving back. Simple and people love it, and of course show all their friends defeating the purpose, but for very little time I get good PR, and its kind of fun....

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Edgerton View Post
    I put secret trays on the bottom of many peices of furniture I build. I route four upside down "J's" into the skirt and raise the floor a bit allowing a shallow tray with dowels in the sides that they can take out by lifting and moving back. Simple and people love it, and of course show all their friends defeating the purpose, but for very little time I get good PR, and its kind of fun....
    That sound like a good technique. Thanks, Larry.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  9. #9
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    Stephen,
    If you go to the projects section and search on "580 handcut dovetails" you will find a run of spiceboxes I did with hidden compartments, and pics of the compartments.
    I also put a hidden box inside the group project found in the "sticky" area at the top of the projects. Pics inside that thread as well.
    I really like the hidden compartments in things, and once you start, you will find, and think of, many ways to incorporate them.
    Mike
    From the workshop under the staircase, Clinton Township, MI
    Semper Audere!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by mike holden View Post
    Stephen,
    If you go to the projects section and search on "580 handcut dovetails" you will find a run of spiceboxes I did with hidden compartments, and pics of the compartments.
    I also put a hidden box inside the group project found in the "sticky" area at the top of the projects. Pics inside that thread as well.
    I really like the hidden compartments in things, and once you start, you will find, and think of, many ways to incorporate them.
    Mike
    Thanks Mike. I found the 580 hand cut dovetails thread. Beautiful spice chests! Great pics, too.

    I'm having trouble finding "the group project found in the "sticky" area at the top of the projects." When you have time please post a link to that thread, or explain to me how to find the sticky area.

    Thank you again. I appreciate it very much.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Edwards View Post
    I'm having trouble finding "the group project found in the "sticky" area at the top of the projects." When you have time please post a link to that thread, or explain to me how to find the sticky area.
    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=103579
    The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.
    - Marcus Aurelius ---------------------------------------- -------------

  12. #12
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    Thanks David!
    If you fast forward to page 9, you will see the hidden box. What is not so clear is that in order to get the box out, there were two ramps added to guide the box in and out of the space below the drawer. The ramps also provided room for a pull knob on the box.
    Mike
    From the workshop under the staircase, Clinton Township, MI
    Semper Audere!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by mike holden View Post
    Thanks David!
    If you fast forward to page 9, you will see the hidden box. What is not so clear is that in order to get the box out, there were two ramps added to guide the box in and out of the space below the drawer. The ramps also provided room for a pull knob on the box.
    Mike
    Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see a page 9 on that link, only 5 pages. Can you provide a direct link to the page with the hidden box, please. Thanks.
    Stephen Edwards
    Hilham, TN 38568

    "Build for the joy of it!"

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Location
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    If you click on page 5, it will show more pages, and then you can click on page 9.

    But here is a link to the "secret" drawer with pictures.

    http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...103579&page=17

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