VHS Tape Secret Compartment




What's the best way to hide something you don't want found? In plain sight. If someone breaks into your room to locate the loot from a daring jewel-heist, or to recover a USB full of secret government documents chances are they will pay extra-close attention to your drawers, heating vents and baseboards. However, will they think to open up that dusty old VHS tape lying on your desk? Probably not.


Step 1: What You Need:

- Screwdriver
- Glue
- Rotary tool & cutting bit
- Fabric (optional)
- Cardboard, thin wood, or plastic
- VHS tape
- Scissors

Step 2: Taking Apart the VHS

- Before you do anything, rewind or fast-forward the VHS so that all the tape is on one of the spools.
- Flip the tape over. There should be five screws; four in the corners and one in the center of the tape. Remove them all and set them aside.
- Remove the two spools from the body of the VHS. Cut the tape so that the spools are no longer joined together.
- Even though all of the black tape will be on one spool there will still be a little bit of clear tape connected to the center of the other spool. Remove that tape; it should just snap off when pulled. If it doesn't, cut it as close to the center of the spool as you can.

Step 3: Cutting the Spools

- Draw a line across the top of the spool right next to what the tape wraps around on each spool; these lines are where you will make the cuts.
- On the empty spool only cut off the top layer of the spool (the clear plastic).
- The spool with the tape requires a little more work. The tape needs to be melted as it is being cut so that it doesn't come loose. A rotary tool is recommended for this step, although I suppose a hot knife could be used (I haven't tried it though). Follow the steps below;
  • Set the rotary tool to a high speed. This will melt the tape as it cuts, preventing the tape from falling off the spool.
  • Cut through the top layer of the spool and through the tape; try and stop before you cut of the bottom layer.
  • After the tape is cut clean up the edges.
- Place the spools back in the VHS case. Rotate them so that the uncut parts of the spools are visible through the windows. Make sure the VHS can still be closed, and that the cuts are not visible through the windows.

Step 4: Clearing Out the VHS Case

*I recommend looking at all of the images in this step*

- In the bottom half of the case is a mechanism meant to control the movement of the spools (it will resemble the first image). It needs to be removed to make the compartment bigger. Start by pulling out all the loose pieces.
- One of the pieces should resemble the second image. This piece covers a hole in the case that we want to remain covered. Cut off the solid flat part and set it aside.
- Now that all of the loose pieces are gone use the rotary tool to remove all of the raised plastic. BE CAREFUL! it is very easy to cut through the case accidentally (like I did in image 7). It is better to remove too little than too much.
- Remember the flat piece you cut and set aside earlier? Glue it over the hole in the bottom of the case that it used to cover (see image 6).
- In the top half of the case there is also some raised plastic that was meant to protect the mechanism. use the rotary tool to remove that plastic as well.
- There will also be a strip of metal attached to the top of the case. Remove it too (you will be able to just pull it off).

Step 5: Gluing It All Together

- Cut two pieces of cardboard, wood or plastic that are the length of the cuts you made on each spool and aren't any taller than the top of the spools.
- Glue them against the cuts you made to prevent whatever you are storing inside the VHS from sliding into a position where it can be seen through the windows in the top of the case.
- Glue the two spools to the bottom half VHS case. Position them so that only the uncut parts of the spools are visible through the windows in the top half of the case.
- Once the glue is dried make sure the top half of case fits on properly and the cuts are not visible through the windows.

Step 6: How to Use It

*This step is optional. If you don't want to line your compartment with fabric skip to the next step.*

- Cut a piece of fabric that is the width of the compartment by double the length.
- Line the compartment with the fabric and place the item you want to hide inside.
- Fold the excess fabric over top of the item. This will prevent any rattling.

Step 7: Closing the Compartment

- Fit the top and bottom halves of the VHS tape's body together and flip it over.
- Screw the case back together, but only with the four corner screws. Discard the fifth screw that went in the center of the tape.
- Put the tape back in it's case.
- You're done!



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    24 Discussions


    Tip 10 months ago on Step 7

    You can replace the magnetic tape with a spool of electrical tape. Simply cut away the cardboard center and unspool from the inside until the diameter matches the reel. The electrical tape will hold up much better and probably not produce the same toxic fumes when cut (with or without a rotary tool). Alternately you can use snips or fingernail clippers to trim plastic and use a nail file to make smooth. You can also use this empty cavity to put an external ssd drive enclosure within, hot glue or epoxy in place and cut a hole for the micro usb cable. You can also use a standard thumb drive with a full-size usb to micro/mini female adapter. I might advise blacking out the led areas on either an external drive enclosure or on thumb drives when using in this method. Another option is to leave the screw heads visible and hinging with strong “gorilla type” tape (cut screw heads off but leave a bit of threading and glue them in place). You then have an easy open option

    1 reply

    Reply 10 months ago

    Those are fantastic ideas! Thank you so much for sharing.


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 7

    It's easier, but a lot less secure. Book compartments are also fairly common, so a determined thief might check your books.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    but far crueler and disrespectful to the author that you would cut up their book



    5 years ago on Introduction

    It's a nice idea... but you may just want to totally gut the case. When it's inside the cardboard sleeve you won't see it anyway... and it's doubtful someone looking for stuff will start pulling out old VHS tapes. If you gut the case... you will also gain about 3x the storage space... so you have a great concept. Thanks,

    4 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Better yet, gut a broken VHS player entirely. No one will use it and no one will steal it.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment! I considered clearing out the whole case, but I decided against it because I wanted the compartment to be as secure as possible. It's true that people aren't likely to take the VHS out of the case, but I'm a little paranoid :p


    Reply 5 years ago

    I've had it on my desk for a couple of weeks, no one has said anything so far.


    5 years ago

    One could cut the centre screw as well and glue it back in place ...


    5 years ago

    used to do this with money and other things my parents used to rade my room and never thought to check my vcr hehe just popped that baby in therec w henmi left for school


    5 years ago on Step 7

    Neat idea, how did that come to you? These would be good Xmas present stocking stuffer's, although if I were robbing anyone under 30 I'd find it pretty odd they would have a VHS tape! Now I'm looking all through my cupboards for other items that could be done like this as well.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 7

    I made a similar VHS "safe" going back about 10-15 years or so ago (think I've still got it somewhere) - generally my "build" was similar, but access was easier (unless I've misunderstood these instructions) - you pushed the button for the flap on the right hand side and lift the flap, the casing behind the flap was cut so you had immediate access to the contents. I'd made a small open-ended cardboard "box" to keep the items in place inside the cassette.


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 7

    I saw a cd case secret compartment, and that got me thinking about using other types of media to hide things. VHS tapes are pretty large, so I figured that they would be good places to hide things.