Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Magic Trick Puzzle Box

A wooden puzzle box or mystery box is a lot of fun to play with. And if you are a woodworker this is a very easy build. 

 Great for hiding gifts or treasures and it will keep people guessing. Just watching kids and adults try to open the box is entertaining. Everyone seems to just about get it but will give up!

 The box is made with hardwood maple, some brass rods, screws and glue.

 I like the look of maple and it is durable. It can also be made with other woods such as plywood or finished wood off the shelf at your local building center.

 You don't need a lot of tools to build this box. Having many tools is nice but you can make this box with just a handsaw or jigsaw and some clamps. If you are a beginner woodworker or advanced this is an easy project. If you can build a box you can make this.


 Here the box sides are being cut. I will use my miter gauge  to cut the pieces the exact length. It is very important and this will ensure a perfect square box.


Since rough maple was used the pieces  were ripped with the table saw and cut to 17 mm. for 2 sides. The two ends were cut to 24 mm. thick.  The height of the pieces is 70mm. 

The sides are now ready and I wanted an easy way to join them so I will make dado cuts on the end pieces and glue them. This is very easy and does look good.

The ends now have a dado cut on them, this was done using a Sled and a single blade. The sled has a stop on it so you can chip away until you get the exact cut which is the thickness of the side piece. This way is very accurate and saves the time it take to change the blade or if you don't have a dado blade. 

The ends are marked and three cuts are made on each as shown above. The cuts are longer than we need but can be filled with some wood strips later.

 The same technique was use to make the dado cuts. First measure, mark and then set the fence and chip away until they are 1/4" wide. 

 The pieces are first dry fit making sure the box was square. It is always a good idea to check with a square. It should not be glued at this time. It is best to make the lid and then test all the pieces together for a nice fit. 

Making the lid


The lid top is 107 mm. x 213 mm. 
The lid is built up, the first layer is solid maple (10mm.) then a piece of plywood (10mm) is glued to it. This piece was traced from the inside of the box then cut out.

Several strips of maple are cut, they will be the guides for the brass rods.


Now is a good time to make the brass rods. Any metal rod can be used, these were just what I had on hand.

The 7 mm brass rods are cut first using a pair of bolt cutters. They are cut slightly larger, and then they can be ground down to 178 mm in length . 


Using a belt sander works nicely and you can get very good results.



The guides are glued and they are spaced 13mm apart. The brass rods are tested for fit. Everything looks good and now the last piece can be glued on. 


Glueing the box together


                       The sides are now glued together and clamped. Again the box is                        checked for squareness. If it is not square apply more or less                            pressure to the clamps until you get it right.

The dado cuts are filled with some dark oak strips. This will add some contrast to the inside of the box.

Small wood screws are added to the middle end of each slot. Depending on how they are set this will make the difference on how the rod moves over the screw tip.

If they are turned clockwise it will be more difficult and counterclockwise will be easier. A small amount of turn will make a large difference. 


The top fits nice and it is ready to test. I just added a few coats of spray lacquer and it looks great.


Boxes are easy to make and if you can make a puzzle box it will be more fun. I so far asked 24  people to open it and only one could, and that was just lucky because the rods were in place. 

I fixed that......

Adjusting the screws a very small amount it will make the lid more difficult to open since the rods have to move over the screw ends. To open it will need a harder spin to move the rods.

 Without knowing the trick it is a very difficult puzzle. What wooden puzzles have you built? 


         Make a Multi Bit Screwdriver        Tool Caddy                        Dowel Stop Gauge




  1. Hi! Thanks for the great information you havr provided! You have touched on crucuial points!

  2. Handmade puzzle boxes are made by different types of wood. We have handmade puzzle boxes which made by Indian rosewood. Those are so beautiful and durable unique gift for your friends.

  3. Books have a lot of material that can be referred to time and time again. DVDs are good too however, the latest trend in magic is to release one trick per DVD.penn and teller fool us