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Prince of All Trades
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I promised a quick primer on concealment and hidden spaces and here it is.

Hiding things does not require any specific tool or place. You will be most successful at hiding things when you come at the issue with no preconceived notions about how or where to hide a specific thing. It is true that a metal object inside a metal object will conceal it from a metal detector, but with modern detection methods most of that thinking is moot. Better to appear completely harmless with nothing to conceal.
You need to look at the objects and spaces around you as opportunities to explore how things are made. Instead of objects being solid masses, you need to recognize that most objects are actually NOT solid. Doors, cabinets, furniture, lamps, walls, pipes... everything has spaces in them, and those spaces are all potential hiding places.
The issue is not so much locating these spaces as it is learning to 'see' them and figuring out how to use them effectively. How often are you going to open this space? Do you have the means to modify the space effectively? Who are you protecting the contents from?

If the object is not going to be needed except in an sudden emergency, but also must be secured (like a gun for example) you may need to build a more complicated hiding place.

Old Dell CPUs have a flip up panel on the front that is a convenient size to hide an Alaskan Special .410 derringer in a cut-down pancake holster. An installed (but unused) solid aluminum removable Hard Drive enclosure with a handy key lock built right into it will do the job just as well on ANY CPU case, and they cost less than $40. Few people screw with the controls on someone else's computer, much less start pulling parts out of it.

The spaces taken up by wood cabinets are not completely used. For example, cabinets are raised up off of the floor to give you room for your toes to go up under the cabinet carcass. This lets you stand close to the cabinet without stubbing your toes. That entire space under the cabinets is not typically used, but you can choose to use it. I have installed spring-loaded gun drawers in several such units when I worked at cabinet shops. Kick in the panel, and out pops a drawer holding a firearm. The spaces around sinks are often used for this as well.

Most chests of drawers have the same sort of space in them below the last drawer. you can enclose this space and then access it by removing the bottom drawer.
Likewise, a deep drawer can have small blocks of wood set into it and a false bottom installed. One deep enough to conceal a semi pistol in the bottom of a file drawer is typically less than two inches- too thin to stand out in a casual inspection. Set files above it and it won't be noticed at all.

I have built furniture that was designed to hold thousands of dollars in bundled cash in case of an account grab by the courts. This is a common tactic by our legal system, and what it does is deny you decent representation by a lawyer... unless you have cash hidden somewhere to pay him.
The cash was vacuum-packed and then sealed into the materials of the furniture, and to remove it you had to destroy the object. the densities of the materials were almost identical, the cash was all pre-magthread, and the likelihood that anyone was ever going to locate that cash without suspecting it was there was effectively zero.

Phoney plumbing clean outs are easy to build, conveniently waterproof, and once you set them flush into concrete, no one suspects a thing. All you need is a sledge hammer and a post hole digger- you can really put one anywhere you want and are good to go. Bust a small hole in a basement floor, dig the hole, put in the pipe and new concrete and you are done. I have even built ones that allowed access to the real line for a snake and were still good hides. Just put a Tee near the opening and store the objects in a ziploc bag up inside the Tee.

Towel, shower, and curtain rods are almost always hollow, and many are easily removed.

Most modern interior doors are hollow. Find one in an out of the way place. Cut away a piece of the top of the door, remove some of the paper inside the door, make a matching, beveled, replaceable strip that fits over and into the hole and is held down with velcro and you are in business. Who scrutinizes the tops of doors?

Objects in ziplocs, placed under fiberglass batting in an attic will sit there undisturbed until the end of the world. NO ONE wants that stuff in their skin.
I have seen it tied to strings and hung off nails down inside the walls as well.

Phoney HVAC duct work that is butted into the real ductwork and has a removable vent cover on one end will store a tremendous amount of material. This stuff is always laying around construction sites and often the workers will give it to you. Matching what you have will pay off well here.

I have built and installed ALL of these items for people, and they all work well.

Hope this got you thinking. For some serious advice by people who have done this, you might locate a copy of Invisible Allies by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I don't think there is a better primer on the methods and risks of hiding things in the face of a hostile government.
 

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Poppin' mags
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1,830 Posts
Especially where documents or cash are concerned, how about fire protection? In attics and walls it might be possible to use a fire safe, but inside of a desk or something smaller, maybe some sort of blanket. Did you install anything of that nature?
 

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Corner posts on chain link fences are hollow. Remove the cap (hammer or tool may be required) and drop in items with string attached. Hold the string while replacing the cap.
 

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Prince of All Trades
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
reconsider a plumbing or subfloor hide for fire resistance

Especially where documents or cash are concerned, how about fire protection? In attics and walls it might be possible to use a fire safe, but inside of a desk or something smaller, maybe some sort of blanket. Did you install anything of that nature?
Only once did we do a special like that, using a custom firebrick-enclosed safe set into a concrete wall of a slipformed house, lined with some sort of quilted material that I assumed was Nomex or Spectra. The liner might have been homemade, I never ask questions about contents. I would suggest that for most of us that is overkill.
Given the physics of a fire, a dummy cleanout set below the floor or in the wall of a basement is going to survive any normal fire. Only pooling liquids or accelerants landing directly on the hide would be in danger of reaching the contents, and it is easy, cheap, and highly resistant to most location methods.
 

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Prince of All Trades
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Corner posts on chain link fences are hollow. Remove the cap (hammer or tool may be required) and drop in items with string attached. Hold the string while replacing the cap.
Yeah, that's a classic dead drop, popular with the KGB in the day.

Some other classics are:

>fabricated copies of an item that act as the hide until broken or cut open. Soap and chocolate are the classics. Both are easy to cast around an item and repackage.

>unscrewing the medicine cabinet so that you can pull it out of the wall, and storing items in the wall below the cutout that holds the cabinet.

>Drill and epoxy rebar into the old walls and floor, build a form out to the rebar and pour a dummy wall a few feet in front of the back basement wall, then cut an access panel into it from a closet floor above. An eight inch 'dummy' wall and ten inch wide void that are the width and height of a wall are almost undetectable, but will store a godawlful amount of stuff. A bigger one would be easy for Uncle Sam to find, but would be missed by almost everyone else.

You can build water storage and/or a safe room into the original construction of a new house and pour it in plain sight with few people even noticing or caring. I assisted a friend some years ago with his hand built super insulated house. When the foundation and basement were laid out, he slipped the forms guys $800 to have the foundation "adjusted' over the weekend before the pour, adding a room into the space he had hand excavated for it. Only the two forms guys, he and myself (assisting) knew anything had been done; I think he had them convinced he had decided to widen the house in one area.

The Concrete truck showed up and poured the forms on Monday and Tuesday without knowing anything was amiss except that they needed four yards more than they had originally expected for the basement. Later that week we installed a temporary support and form for the roof out of plywood, set the rebar and hand mixed several batches of concrete in a hand mixer to cover the roof of his hide. Then we buried it and got to work framing the walls while it set up. Once the walls were up to give us privacy, we went down there and pulled the forms out and set up his access. The room sits under his hand-laid brick patio out back where no one will ever know to look for it. Several details have been changed on this one to protect the guilty.
 

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Indefatigable
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My husband and I are in the planning stage of what will become a 480sqft cabin from shipping containers. We plan to take advantage of every available space, including the floors. Houses in Japan routinely come with storage in the floor. These spaces are used for storing out of season items and bedding. While these "floors" come in kit form from many Japanese companies, here is a DIY version.
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-make-hideaway-storage-compartments-in-the-floor/index.html
 

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Especially where documents or cash are concerned, how about fire protection? In attics and walls it might be possible to use a fire safe, but inside of a desk or something smaller, maybe some sort of blanket. Did you install anything of that nature?

two layers of type X 5/8 drywall will go a long way toward fire protection...that is usually the fire wall code in most cities to divide apartment buildings. I converted a metal flammable liquid cabinet to a fire safe in this manner.
 
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