This is a free woodworking project for the making of a minimalist wall shelf with a secret compartments.

It consists of a frame (drawer subassembly) that has built-in boards on its lower part, by which in fact a bottom i.e. storage space is formed. A skin (shelf subassembly) is stretched over the drawer subassembly to cover it completely. This has two functions – allowing you to place various items  (upper surface of the shelf) on the outer shelf side, and to hide away things inside the shelf. All touching surfaces should be smooth when sliding, and there should be a small clearance between them to make the skin move smoothly.


Wall shelf with secret compartments plan
Project type
Project difficulty
Medium, requires precision
Skill level
for intermediate experienced woodworker
Level of workshop equipment
Hobby – Hand tools, power tools and machines
Applied woodworking joints
Butt joint reinforced with glue

This shelf, when completed, takes up a wall space 673mm (26 1/2in) wide by 71mm (2 25/32in) high, and extends out 244mm (9 19/32in) in. The length, height and width can be changed to suit the purpose for which the wall shelf is intended.


 As regards its structure principle, this shelf is very similar to a drawer. In case you have no prior experience in making drawers, we advise that you study this issue.

There is a large number of ways to build drawers  and experienced woodworker are free to customize the design to get a better result. The shelf is mounted on the wall with lag screws and anchors. Within the shelf you can attach magnets or some hidden mechanism in order to prevent sliding too easily (opening of the secret compartment). Beware that if the shelf subassembly starts to slide easily or gets cranky, the secret compartment could be revealed!

The secret compartment itself that is incorporated in such a shelf is quite large, providing you with a safe space to hide away your valuables. 
On this shelf construction, the skin (shelf subassembly) is glued to the Back rail part and the Drawer subassembly can be moved. It is possible to make the shelf construction in a different way, so that the Drawer subassembly is fixed (with screws ) to the Back rail part, and that the Shelf subassembly is movable. We encourage you to study the drawings first in order to fully understand the construction and then to create a shelf of the size and compartment number to your liking.

Dimensions and details needed in construction:


Assembly drawing
Wall shelf with secret compartments - Subassembly list
Wall shelf with secret compartments - Main assembly drawing
Secret drawer subassembly parts list
Shelf subassembly drawing
Part drawings
Shelf back rail drawing
Secret drawer part drawings

This type of shelf can hold great weight. Also, it may look even more attractive if you add any of the following finishing touches: paint your shelf nicely, glue up veneer on it, decorate it with marquetry or some other technique or attach moldings onto it.


Download project (high resolution images)

Submitted by Ceh Jan