Home > Just For Fun, Projects, Uncategorized > How to Make a Hollowed Out Book e-Reader Cover or Safe

How to Make a Hollowed Out Book e-Reader Cover or Safe

The following project will take you from having an old, unwanted book to having a great holder for valuables. This project makes an e-reader cover that doubles as it’s own inconspicuous hiding spot. It could be easily modified for hiding valuables in your car or home.


When I bought my wife a nook for her birthday it amazed me how much the stores wanted for an e-reader cover. $30 to $80 for ugly pieces of plastic or poorly made leather? My poor Scottish heritage wouldn’t let me do it. Especially when I still needed to fork over some cash for a micro memory card at the nearby box retailer.

It was then I went to my trusty search engine with thoughts of hollowed out books.  What I found looked great but they were, however, books that were made to look like e-reader covers.  My goal for this cover was that it should look like a book to anyone passing by. If it were left in a hotel room I didn’t want it to look like a valuable e-reader.  With this design in mind I took everything I read at many sites and came up with the following process.

(The techniques listed here could help you create any manner of book safe. Just know that anything of real value or that’s dangerous should be locked up. As a kid I knew all of my parent’s secret hiding spots, which included the unlocked guns as well. Given time all hiding places are known to kids.)

First step, find yourself a suitable book. E-readers are normally thin things. The Nook Touch I made this cover for measured at roughly 1/2 an inch in thickness.  The book should be big enough to house the reader, but not too big to make it cumbersome to carry. For this project I used an old Random House copy of  Wuthering Heights. It turned out to be barely thick enough to house the reader and a reading light. But in the end was an excellent choice.

I mean, look at that cover. Can you believe that it was hidden by a nondescript, gray dust jacket?  Loved the beat up edges to the book too.  The spine was nice looking as well.
Trust me. I am a book lover. It pained me to think of destroying a book for this project. But Wuthering Heights is in the public domain, and this 1934 edition of the book was horrendous. The editor had a bright idea to do the book in a two column format like some newspaper or brochure.  Well, see for yourself:
My eyes hurt just looking at it.  They probably thought they were being progressive at the time, but really?  Destroying this book might be the best thing to happen to it. Except, like the cover, the book contained some great prints. It would be a shame to destroy these, so I cut them out.  At the bottom of this tutorial you’ll find the pictures. They are cool enough to share.


Because the e-reader is the type that uses an e-ink screen there would be times a book light would be needed. My original plan was to have the Nook and a book light side but side. But doing that would prevent the hollowed out book from having the 1/2 inch wall thickness all of the online tutorials said would be needed for the book to retain its structural integrity.

Anyway, to the right you’ll see the configuration I settled upon. This would leave the minimum 1/2 inch space required along all edges.

The first task was to wrap the end covers. One of the references below talked about using just saran wrap and scotch tape.

With both front and back cover protected I chose the pages I wouldn’t be cutting into. The idea is that you’ll need some good looking pages towards the end of the project to allow for a ‘finished’ look.  In reading all of the descriptions at the other sites I expected to mangle a top page or two in the hollowing process. In knowing this I allowed for 5 extra pages at the front of the book. Several of the sites mention leaving only one but I wanted to leave some room for error, and I figured I would need the extra pages to hide what was going to make this an e-reader holder. (1/4 inch elastic cord I’ll be mentioning later.) For the back cover it would be good enough just to keep it separate from the pages being glued together for now.

This looked like a good enough spot to start gluing and it allowed for a thick enough section for the Nook to nestle deep into. Just to be sure I measured the thickness of the Nook one more time.

Now it was time to apply the Hodge Podge glue. Many instructions talked about using a mixture of school glue such as Elmer’s and water. Ratios given ranged from 50/50 to 80% glue to 20% water.  All references to this mixture said that it would take a good day for the glue to dry, sometimes two.  I didn’t have the time, which meant I needed to go with the Hodge Podge.

Using a sponge brush I applied it.  The instructions I found talked about applying it thickly. Trust me, there’s no way to apply it thinly when using a sponge brush. When the first coat was finished, I put the brush in a quart sized zippered lunch bag for use later.

I then placed a heavy object on the book. The closest thing nearby was an unused HP printer/scanner.

The instructions on the container and on many of the sites said that the pages should be well glued within an hour.  I waited two hours to be safe. But when I removed the printer and gently opened the saran wrapped pages I found that things hand’t fully dried. Plus the glue had stuck to the saran wrap a tiny bit causing some pages to partially come apart when I pried the covers apart.


I’d toyed with the idea of going with two coats of the Hodge Podge glue, but this cinched it.  To do a better job at protecting the front and back cover I used two 1 gallon zippered storage bags.  This is a method discussed in at least one of the references I give below.

Once properly protected I applied the second coat of glue, applied the weight, and I waited 2 more hours.

When done the glued pages were a nice, solid mass. The gallon zip lock bags worked beautifully, with none of the glue sticking to them enough to cause any problems.  I measured out a square that would be large enough to contain the Nook and a night light.

Almost all of the references talk about using an Exacto knife to make cuts. But I used a utility razor blade meant for cutting cement bags open, scoring boards for mitered cuts, and make quick work of polyester ropes.  I was shocked to find that it took only 1 hour and 15 minutes to cut down 1/2 an inch into the book.  All of the references talked about taking several long evenings to do the job of cutting a simple square.  The thick blade was sharp and strong. It made it easy to keep the edge of the cut straight.

I did use 2 new blades for the project — 3 cutting edges. Any time there seemed to be any tugging I either rotated the blade to a new cutting edge or changed it out.  In the end, a utility blade is what I’d suggest over an Exacto Knife.  The fuzzy corners mentioned in some of the referenced material never happened in this project. In making the cuts I started with taking 3 to 5 pages at a time. When the edges were more defined I took out 8 pages of material and the work moved quickly.

I stopped cutting when I had one or two sheets of paper left before breaking through to the back cover.

I then followed everyone’s instructions to liberally apply glue all over the interior of the hollowed out book. Then the book got closed up again, a heavy weight was put back on top, and the whole thing was allowed to dry.

I had truly hoped that the book was large enough to have the Nook & the night light sit side by side.  The intent being that I had an old Hawaiian shirt that got torn. It was made of beautiful fabric and had a great pocket.  The pocket would have been perfect for holding the night light.  In the end I did use the shirt’s fabric as a liner. (The pocket will be saved for a future project.)

And now a quick double check to see that everything still fits.

Now comes the work that makes this hollowed out book a true e-reader holder.  In the notions department of my local craft store I picked up 1/4 inch black elastic.  With the Nook and the night light in the book I measured out enough elastic to hold down everything. I used a stapler to hold the elastic in place.

After removing the Nook I glued each of my ‘clean’ pages over the opening and hid pencil lines, the outer edge of the fabric liner, and the stapled elastic. I did take the time to measure where the elastic was. I wrote these numbers down and measured where the center of the opening was too.  This would be good to know when I made my final, blind cuts into the book.

With the last page down I closed up the book and again applied weight. In an couple of hours I opened it back up.

Carefully I cut into the center of the page.

Once the interior was cut open again, it’s now time to take care of the back cover.  I left the back cover unglued from the rest of the book in order to use my 1/4 inch elastic to keep the book closed.  Again, I stapled the elastic into place and used enough for the ends to meet on the back side.  Then I glued the back cover into place.

And here’s the book with elastic strap holding it all closed.

Here’s the e-reader cover with the night light in place and turned on.

Here it is with everything strapped down.

As you can tell from that final picture I did have some problems with getting a truly clean edge with those last pages. But as I told my wife I went for the ‘Rustic Look’. 😉

So here’s a quick list of what you’ll need:

  1. E-Reader
  2. Old book of the right size you don’t mind mangling.
  3. Hodge Podge Glue or watered school glue if you have the time — remember, the more watery you make it the more likely you are to have your pages curl.
  4. Sponge brush.
  5. Sharp blade, Exacto or utility blade.
  6. 1/4 inch elastic cord from the notions department of a craft store.
  7. Fabric for lining (optional).
  8. Saran wrap or better yet, 2 one gallon zippered storage bags.
For Reference:
 And here are the pictures from within the book:
 Happy Crafting…..
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: