Make: Projects

Doortop Stash

Easy to reach but hard to find.

Doortop Stash

Pop quiz: What does the top edge of say, your utility closet door look like? I’m betting that you’ve never seen it, even if you’ve lived in your home for awhile. And although there’s not a lot of room to stash stuff in there, well, if you’re like me, the stuff you want to hide is usually on the smaller side.

Not many people think of the space inside the door as a hiding spot, but it’s right there in easy reaching distance when you need to get to it. And it’s devious enough that, yes, I think this trick will still be effective even after I blog it all over the web. Learn how to make your own hidden doortop stash with this handy tutorial.

You’ll need a suitable hollow-core interior door, a cigar tube, a few tools, and some other odds ‘n’ ends.



Step #1: Clean tube (optional)

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Just for appearances, I removed the painted label from my cigar tube. Obviously it's not strictly necessary for the stash to work.
  • Put on protective rubber gloves.
  • Pour out a little Goof-Off in a stainless steel bowl.
  • Dip a Scotch Brite pad in the solvent and vigorously scrub the cigar tube.
  • It takes a bit of elbow grease, but eventually the label should come off.
  • Wipe the tube clean with a paper towel and let it dry.

Step #2: Drill cap hole

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Mark the center of the cap with, e.g., a Sharpie marker.
  • Put a small dimple on the mark with a thumbtack, to guide the drill.
  • Using a brad-point drill, drill a 1/8-3/16" hole in the center of the cap where marked.

Step #3: Countersink washer

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Temporarily fix the 1" flat washer to a a scrap of wood by driving three small nails around its rim.
  • Countersink the mounted washer slightly, so your flat-head bolt will sit flush against it.
  • Remove the nails and recover the washer.

Step #4: Assemble cap

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Put the bolt into the washer, and invert it on the benchtop.
  • Guide the bolt through the hole in the cigar tube lid.
  • Add the 1/2" flat washer inside the lid.
  • Add the split washer above the 1/2" flat washer inside the lid.
  • Moisten the threads of the bolt with a dab of thread adhesive.
  • Finally, thread the nut onto the bolt and tighten down using a nut driver on one side and a screwdriver on the other. Don't overtighten.
  • Set the cap aside and let the adhesive dry.

Step #5: Assemble stash

Doortop Stash
  • When the adhesive on the cap is dry, screw the lid onto the cigar tube.
  • Verify that the hardware inside the lid does not interfere with the closing of the lid.

Step #6: Mark and drill pilot hole

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Select a hollow-core interior door to conceal your stash. It should be a door you can access with some expectation of privacy.
  • Position the stash closer to the hinge than the knob. It will undergo less acceleration in this position, when the door is opened or closed, and is less likely to rattle.
  • Measure the thickness of the door, and mark the halfway point.
  • Being careful to keep the axis of the drill plumb, drill a 1/4" pilot hole, as deep as you can, on the mark. A brad-point bit is less likely to wander.

Step #7: Counterbore door

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Using a 1" spade bit, with the pilot hole as a guide, counterbore a circular recess about 1/8" deep in the top of the door.
  • The purpose of this recess is to provide clearance for the washer you mounted to the lid of the cigar tube, so it will sit flush with the top of the door. Thus, you don't need to counterbore any deeper than the thickness of the washer.

Step #8: Drill and shape opening

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • Switch to a 3/4" spade bit and, using the pilot hole as a guide, drill straight down into the door until your bit breaks through into the hollow space inside. This should be about 3-4" down.
  • Use a rat-tail file to shape the opening to fit the tube. If your cigar tube is like mine, you'll need to expand the opening a bit to accommodate the threaded portion at the top.

Step #9: Use it!

Doortop StashDoortop StashDoortop StashDoortop Stash
  • The washer attached to the top of the stash should fit flush with the upper surface of the door. The fit should be loose enough to lift out easily, but not so loose as to rattle when the door is moved.
  • A small magnet can be used to easily lift the stash clear of the door, as shown.
Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Sean Michael Ragan


    Thanks for your comment. I consciously chose to use a container with a screw-top lid to help alleviate the danger of the container popping loose from the lid, from which it is suspended, and falling into the empty space inside a hollow-core door. If you have a solid-core door or the depth of the recess you cut doesn’t penetrate beyond the solid upper rim of the door, this is not a concern.


  • Tod Shorter

    The best and cheapest place to find cigar tubes are on ebay. Though you might be able to purchase one from a local news agents but it is likely to contain the cigar.

  • Tom Kozak

    just keep watching the trash, glancing in dumpsters, etc. pretty much everything you’ll ever need turns up eventually. just don’t eat any of it.

  • You could do something similar to make a hidden door lock. If the hole held a spring loaded pin that went into the frame, a magnet could pull the pin down and release the door.

  • Mica F

    Do not drill toward your hand!

  • Stu J

    “You could do something similar to make a hidden door lock. If the hole held a spring loaded pin that went into the frame, a magnet could pull the pin down and release the door.”

    Google “tot lok”, a childproofing lock that is exactly that.

  • Sully Augustine

    Neat idea. But I’m wondering why that couldn’t be a six inch wide box several inches deep rather than a cigar tube.

  • Dan

    “I’m wondering why that couldn’t be a six inch wide box several inches deep rather than a cigar tube.” Because that solid part provides stiffness to the door. Taking away a small circular piece will not harm the integrity of the door, but if you remove too much of it, as in your suggestion, the door will definitely loose strength and would possibly deform noticeably.

    • Sully Augustine

      Good point. Thanks.

  • You probably shouldn’t be using a magnet to retrieve it if you are keeping that usb drive in there…

    • nick

      Flash drives do not use magnetic storage, so will not be effected by magnets.

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  • Donald Landis Jr

    so what your saying is your just a evolved ape. No offence but I’m created by a God. I think it sounds better.

    • angelamontenegro

      It may sound better, but it doesn’t make it true.

      • Donald Landis Jr

        if I take your logic it is because I say,
        there is more to indicate there is a God than not
        I would rather have gone through life acting on the assumption there is a God than to have ignored Him and find out later He exist. If the is not a God what have I lost? I will have existed for nothing but have lived for everyone else.

        • wannanah333

          Why does God allow so much suffering in the world? Why did God take the roundabout way of having himself/his son tortured to death to forgive us for our sins, why didn’t he just forgive? Why do little kids get cancer? If anyone you really really care about goes to hell, how could heaven be heaven, without that person? Why is all the knowledge on the Bible limited to what the people 2000 years ago knew? Why isn’t e=mc2 or idea that bacteria and other things make people sick or radio/TV given as a sign that there is a supernatural being behind that book? Why are there so many religions, all with believers who think their God is the one? Why does evolution by natural selection explain all of biology?

    • Aaron Miller

      You are a fucking idiot.

    • Pika Choo

      What’s funny is that this “God” person forgot to give you a) manners (you’re very rude) b) grammar…it’s you’re, not your. Not to mention your lack of proper capitalization, and spelling! So in reality, you sound stupid making a very unpopular comment. Not better; stupid.

      • Donald Landis Jr

        that is what you are worried about punctuation really!!!!

      • Donald Landis Jr

        The only thing you got is that, no real argument. It always ends the same change the subject and mock the person commenting. what do you expect from person who think they only came from apes, at least be above that.

        • Bender

          Okay, here is the real argument… It’s much easier to prove something exists rather than prove it doesn’t exist, Here is my easy solution for you Donald, Prove he exists. that’s it, it’s that simple, that’s all you have to do and everyone backs off you deal. oh and no hypotheticals Donald, as that proves nothing.

        • Bender

          One more thing, This is a story about a doortop stash, where did “religion” enter in to it? Save it for your church Donald.

    • JD

      ha ha you’ll see soon enough that you were wrong AND a god-like creature would know how to spell OFFENSE

  • Donald Landis Jr

    neat idea though. I like it.

  • Anthony Parone

    A wooden door would not protect the cash or thumb drive in the event of a fire.

    • C. Scott Relleve

      Preventative measure: Don’t let the house catch fire.

    • Zach Brenner

      It’s not supposed to.

  • Anthony Parone

    CAn you prevent lightening strikes or uncontrolled fires, I don’t think so. Look outside the matchbox!

    • pokervixen

      “lightening” doesn’t strike. Its usually a treatment your hairdresser does to your hair. You mean lightning, which also isn’t going to strike IN your home.

      • Anthony Parone

        Lightening does strike property & generate fires!

        • PD Reader

          Like a 747… about 35,000′ over your head.

  • Pop quiz: how many readers will know the same project was posted in 2011?

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