Hi everybody! Today I will show you how to make a secret drawer below your table surface with the use of a hidden magnetic lock. The drawer is barely visible from the top and because of its hidden magnetic lock, appears to be part of the table itself. This Instructable shows you how to make the drawer along with the locking mechanism. If you already have a drawer, you can skip ahead to step 7 for the lock. I suggest you read through the instructable before you begin to see what is expected and get a better understanding of the project. There are many possible variations and sizes you can apply to carry different items or loads. You can also use a variety of locks, some of which I will explain here. I hope the instructions are simple and easy to understand. Enjoy and have fun.


These are the materials required for the project. In this project I used old and damaged offcuts from previous projects so please bear with the defects :) Keep in mind some of the sizes and quantities may vary depending on your choice of materials:

- WOOD(varies according to size and dimensions):
- X1 700mm X 350mm X 12mm (Base)
- X2 700mm X 100mm X 12mm (Front and Back)
- X2 350mm X 70mm X 20mm (sides)

- X15 6X41 Wood screws
- X8 10X19 G Screws

- Pair of full ext BB runner 350mm sliding rails
- Wood glue
- Wood putty
- Wood vinyl (for matching the drawer to the rest of the table)

- X2 Earth magnets
- Metal rod (5mm X 50mm)
- PVC pipe (20mm X 20mm)
- Spring (optional)
- Q-Bond Adhesive(or any other strong adhesive)

This is the equipment that is required for this project:

- Jigsaw / Circular blade saw
- Drill
- Sand paper / Electrical planer
- Screwdriver
- Measuring equipment


Before you start with a task, you should always have a solid plan and understanding of the project. For this particular project you need to be fully aware of the dimension, sizes and restrictions that could effect the outcome. Draw out a plan to provide you with all the specifications.

These are some of the points you may need to consider for this project:
- For my table I had to make sure that I didn't drill into the other side drawers which could prevent them from opening.
- Take note that a person must still be able to comfortably sit without the drawer interfering with leg space.
- Decide what you want to carry in the drawer and calculate how much it would weigh to determine what materials and dimensions to use.
- Think of ways to match the secret drawer with the rest of the table. You could either paint it, plaster it or use matching wood. I plastered mine.
- Where do you want the locking system so that it doesn't interfere with the functionality of the drawer? Keep it away from magnetic materials that could effect its motion or devices that could get damaged.
- Where do you want your railings or sliding mechanism? Usually they are placed on the sides but I decided to attach them to the top. This is because I will not be storing heavy items. This also allowed me to place the locking mechanism facing the side wood. The top wood of my table surface was also much thicker and stronger than the sides. Take the dimensions of the railings as well when planning.


Once you have the plans sorted and materials gathered, it's time to measure your desk and make the relevant markings as guidance. My drawer is designed to carry my laptop and other small items. Therefore the measurements I take will be centered around my particular use for the drawer.

Measure the area under your table and record the dimensions. The desk space I will be using is 700mm X 375mm. Therefore I will use full ext BB runner 350mm sliding rails which gives the drawer enough room to stay hidden. Now make the markings on the wood. You will need 2 side boards; 1 base board; 1 backboard and 1 front board. Make sure you take the thickness of the wood and rails into consideration as this will affect the dimensions.


Now that we have marked the wood, cut the relevant sizes. Remember to make space for the rails to slide through like in image 3. Once the wood is cut, you can sand all the edges and faces.


Once you have cut the wood dimensions necessary for the drawer, it's time to assemble all the pieces together.
Add the wood glue around the sides where the wooden pieces will be connected. Place the 2 side boards on top of the base and attach them from the bottom using the 6X41 wood screws. When using screws, it is easier to first make a small hole with the drill. This helps guide the screws through the wood.

Once again add wood glue and attach the front and back pieces. Once they are attached you can wipe the extra wood glue with a cloth and leave it to dry.


Now it's time to add the sliders. Position the railings on the top side so that they are in line with the side wood. Also take note of which holes you can use on the sliders. You might have to position the slides in order to reach the holes (image 2, 4 and 6). Attach the slides with the 6X41 wood screws.


There are a variety of locking systems that you could use. I decided to use a magnetic system because it doesn't require an evident opening or key hole.
For my system, you will have a horizontal tube that holds the magnet. The magnet will have a rod attached that protrudes out past the drawer which will effectively go into the side of the table. Additionally, you could also position the lock so that the rod goes into the side drawers as well allowing you to effectively have a lock for two compartments on the table. I also added a spring to make it automatically lock.
Firstly, cut the tube so that the magnet has enough room to slide back and forth while preventing the rod from exiting the side wood. Place a cap to prevent the magnet from exiting the back end of the tube. I used a cap from a pill case.
Then mark where the metal rod will go through the side wood and drill a hole big enough for it to slide past but small enough to prevent it from jiggling.
Now add the spring and rod to the magnet (I used their magnetic properties to keep them together without adhesive).
Test that the rod goes through and using the strong adhesive, stick the tube so that the open side is flat against the side wood.

Other locking systems could include having the rod go up into the table surface instead of the sides. It would open by pushing the magnet down with the opposite side of another magnet. There is also a variety of hidden magnetic locks that you could purchase online and in hardware stores.

Above is the magnetic lock system used in the instructable as well as an alternative setup as described above.


This step is about disguising the drawer to match the table. You can skip this part if you have painted your wood or used matching wood from the start.
Using the wood putty, cover all areas where there are defects or holes such as around the screws or where the wood pieces join. Now cut the wooden vinyl or paper so that it covers all necessary areas. Add wood glue and smear it around to all the areas that will be visible and slowly place the paper so that it is evenly attached. You can use a cloth and credit card or ruler to slowly push out any air bubbles that appear.


You could also add a secret charging hole at the back so that a power cable can fit through. Just drill a whole at the back of the table and the drawer large enough for the cable head to pass through. Now you can also safely and secretly charge your devices. You can also add interior lighting or implement various compartments and dividers.


Now it is time to attach the drawer to the table. measure where the metal rod from the locking system will exit and mark it on the side of the table. Add tape or some sort of marker on the drill bit so that you don't drill through the side. Drill a small hole first, then a hole the same size as the rod and using a countersink bit, widen the end so that the rod can slide in if there are slight alterations in movement. Place the drawer under the table and attach it to the top with the 10X19 G screws. Once again I first marked and made holes where the screws would go. When attaching the drawer, it might move around. Therefore I used a ruler as a buffer to keep it stationary.


This is the finished Secret Drawer. Thank you for taking time out to check out my instructable. I hope it was easy to understand and that it was useful. Think of other designs and locking systems you can make. Please comment on what you think and on how I can improve it. I'm still young and inexperienced and am constantly learning new techniques each day so your advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Before and After Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Before and After Contest 2016



    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    29 Discussions

    Its not allowing me to download the plans for some reason. Is there any chance you can email me the pdf plans?

    have to be carefull with wich watches are near the magnets.

    hello, i believe this might work in a very small drwaer i am making will let you knw, the 7 drwaers are 2.9 cm high have to make a singke lock for each drwaer( watch collection), bought 1/8 diameter cilindrical magnets that will slide insde a papermate pen tube.

    Cool! Funny how there are a lot of magnet-sensitive things in the drawer.

    1 reply

    Thanks! When it comes to the items stored in my drawer, none of them are particularly sensitive to a magnetic field. My laptop has a LCD screen which is not affected by the magnet unlike CRT screens. Only a very powerful magnet, such as a laboratory degausser, could do any damage to my hard drives or other electronic appliances. So far nothings has been damaged, however I do tend to place the appliances further away from the earth magnet just in case :)

    A jigsaw is a reciprocating saw in itself as its motion reciprocates. I used a particular type of jigsaw that could be used for both demolition and fine cutting purposes making it a bit of both in this instance.


    2 years ago

    Love this idea. Wish I had the tools to make it work at our place!

    QUESTION: where could we get a mechanism to lock doors from the outside (to prohibit nosy little ones from access to master bedroom, craft room, etc. We've gone to several stores asking about this, but all we get are snide remarks and really dumb looks! Ay ideas? Sure would appreciate your thoughts!

    2 replies

    Sorry for the slightly off-topic, but that might be a job for something a little simpler. I had trouble until I found this (pictured) - a little sled that slides along the top of the door and locks into a peg screwed into the top of the frame. We didn't need the stick (for shorter adults to reach it) and it's easy to slide from both sides. It was surprisingly secure, and didn't break the one time I accidentally burst through the door with man strength :) Look for "child proof deluxe door top lock".

    I'm certain some creative Instructables users can come up with something that looks nicer, but here's your inspiration - putting the mechanism up high makes it automatically child resistant.


    Why not change the door handle to a keyed entry lock? I assume right now you either have a passage lock(does not lock at all) or a privacy lock(locks, but can be easily unlocked with a small screwdriver or inside of a pen).

    Often if you buy a keyed entry lock that is the same brand as the existing door handle, it fairly easy to change it yourself. You can usually re-use the existing latch assembly and strike plates.

    Just take off the existing handle, take it to a decent hardware store, and they should be able help you find one. And if you don't feel like carrying a key spend some extra dollars and buy a keyless one.

    Great idea which can also be used to hide a hand gun away from prying eyes and prevent any potential loss of life to little one. Also to prevent theft. If they can't find it they can't steal it...

    Love the Q-Bond. I've fixed the swivel on the motorcycle mirrors, rear wiper arm on the wagon, a leg on a Barbie horse, mount for a rear-view mirror, glove box latch on the hot rod and a large dent in a floor jack cylinder. Plus others. Its as important in my shop as my Sugri...

    Really clever mechanism.


    2 years ago

    Great idea and presentation. You might try a drop down compartment for tables that have a rail all the way around. That would be totally hidden. Great way to learn is to pick peoples brains. Done that for years and still do. Thanks for a great idea.





    2 years ago

    Very nice instructable. It certainly made me think of several applications for this. Might I suggest one other step in your planning and execution? Before assembling/gluing all of your parts, you might want to lay out and drill your holes for the lock in your pieces. It would make them easier to drill and line up before assembly. Make sure you take the entire drawer depth (front to back from lock) measurement into account.

    1 reply

    Yes you're right. That would have been a better way of doing it. Thank you for your input.


    2 years ago

    Ha Ha I did this at work four years ago using six inch nails across two doors as I knew other workmen were stealing my things. When I left I slid five six inch nails across the doors, They had to wreck the cabinet doors to get inside.

    nice idea. I've been a woodworker for over fifty years, made many hidden compartments and have always thought the magnet was the way to go. Your method will give many of confidence to use magnets.

    1 reply

    Thank you very much. I appreciate your feedback. If you have any advice or suggestions that you are willing to share, from your many years of experience, on how to improve this project, I would love to hear them.