Letter Re: Constructing In-House Caches

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I have just finished listening to the audiobook of your novel Expatriates with great enjoyment. Eric Dove does a great job voicing the various characters and, to this yank’s ear, a credible “Aussie” accent was required.

I wanted to add a bit to the account of Chuck’s rifle hide behind wall paneling. I am a cabinet maker and have spent more than a few hours puzzling over the various problems and pitfalls of concealed storage. Several are present in Chuck’s solution.

While I do not like Velcro (as it wears out, accumulates litter and makes noise) if dots are to be used,  (a) raw wood tends to shed self adhesive material such as is common to these dots and (b) one needs to account for the thickness of the Velcro hook and loop sandwich which will cause the removable panel to be proud of its neighbors. Finally we need some way to grasp the panel easily to remove it once it is all setup, since repeated prying or levering can scar it.

To accommodate the Velcro thickness, gently pry out and shim the adjacent wall panning sufficient to match the thickness of the Velcro hook and loop. Pieces of thin sheet plastic won’t swell or attract moisture. let the shim extend so that it will back up the removable panel between hook and loop dots. If the panel nails are sunk as a result of this adjusting, use a furniture repair stick or putty of the appropriate color to fill the holes.

To ensure that firm attachment of the Velcro, the panel back and studs should be sanded  enough to produce a smooth, whisker free surface. Apply one or more coats a good contact adhesive to seal the surface fibers. Allow to dry tack free and then apply the dots.

For removal of the panel a “handle” can be as simple as a hook for a picture. Ideally located near an corner or at least an edge of the panel (between vertical studs). Glue a block on the back side and screw a hook into it through the panel’s front. Hang a picture on the hook.

As an alternate solution, flexible magnet tape and short sections of steel angle could be used. The angle can be screwed to the sides of the studs and set back from the stud’s front by the thickness of the magnetic tape thus avoiding the need to shim out adjacent panels. – Dollardog

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