Build Your Own Hide-A-Tablet Book

in android, book, carving, gluing, hack, tablet, tablet pc, whittling

As you probably already know, I’ve got quite a thing for mobile devices. My newest favorite is the Tegra 2 powered Viewsonic G-Tablet. Load up a custom ROM and an overclocked kernel and you’ve got a dual core 1.5ghz android tablet that’ll run with the best of them. Like most of the higher end tablets though, it’s pricey and easy to recognize. This makes it a pretty choice target for thieves. Rather than lower the usability of the device and leave it at home, I set out to disguise the tablet in some fashion. After browsing through the tablet cases available, I figured I could do just as well by building a hide-a-book. And that’s what I did! Read on for the full tutorial.

Finding the Right Book

Heading out to the local thrift shop, I found a faux Victorian photo album that was slightly larger than my tablet. Photo books work well as they have fewer and thicker pages, which means less gluing overall.

Sizing The Pages For Cutting

I like to leave a page or two uncut in the back or the front of the book so you can flip some pages or keep a bookmark in there for fun. Find the first page you want cut, and use a graphite pencil to stencil the perimeter of the tablet. You’ll want to angle the pencil towards the inside of the tablet, so you have a nice 1 cm buffer around your tablet. This prevents you from having to do a lot of manual sanding after gluing.

Cutting The Pages

Using your sharpest knife, make strong downward strokes along the graphite lines. For thin cardboard like you’d find in photo albums, it’s going to take a couple of strokes per page. Repeatedly cut along the lines using the previous pages as a guide. If you’re worried about cutting up the inside of your cover, a thin layer of cardboard or wood placed behind your cover will prevent any out of bounds cuts. I like to cut 99% of each line, then pop each individual page out one at a time. This works less well for very large books with thin pages (and I’ve seen a couple of hide-a-bibles).

Gluing the Pages

Using a tooth-pick, gently apply glue to the outer rim of the pages that you wish to glue (usually the ones you cut). You don’t want to gob too much up, or you’ll end up with glue spillover and it’ll detract from the realism of your book. This can be resolved with a bit of sandpaper, and applying a new outer finish to the pages if you like.

Letting the Glue Dry

After gluing all of the pages, most glues will require a bit of time to set before being put to use (or sanded down). I recommend clamping and weighing your book during this process. If you don’t have a small set of clamps, do yourself a favor and pick some up at a hardware store for a couple bucks. While a stack of books is excellent for applying pressure over your book in a general fashion, you need to apply extra pressure to the spine and the outer-rim of a hide-a-book, as any spine glue or page thickness mismatches can cause trouble in the gluing department. Best to clamp them down before setting up your book (or any weight) tower.

Sanding

After a few hours (or whatever is recommended by your glue manufacturer) you’ll be left with a hollowed out shell of a book. If you’re like me there will be some rough edges (and probably a few spots of glue) to be sanded off the inside and outside of the pages. I recommend just taking a cheap fine-grain sandpaper and hand-wiping the sections in question. A hand dremel with a polishing or buffing tip would also work well.

Finishing Up

Now that you’ve sanded out all the rough edges, it’s time to test your tablet for fitting. Depending on your make of tablet you may want to sand or cut out an indentation to keep your power button from depressing.

Felt (Felting?)

If you don’t have a screen protector on your tablet you may want to line the inside of your hide-a-book with felt or another screen-safe material to prevent screen scratching. I like a nice white felt as it can’t be seen from the outside of the book when its closed. From here, you’re pretty much finished. If there are any rough spots just apply a bit of light sanding, maybe a touch of paint or a signature, and you’re done!

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