Category Archives: Puzzle boxes

DIY puzzle box projects

Old movie camera

old movie camera closed

This is one of the latest puzzles from my workshop. I was planing making a puzzle and in same time a desktop clock. I found some ideas and I decided to make this one. This is a puzzle box that all puzzle enthusiasts know very well. As you can guess the cube that construct the body of the camera is a 12 move traditional Japanese puzzle box. Normally two mahogany panel is the top and bottom panels of this box.

Some pieces of the camera are removable. You must remove them for opening the box. Other pieces are fixed and for decorative purposes. You can see the opened box here.

old movie camera open Some people think puzzle boxes are for protecting some small objects or cash. I remember Lucky Luke and Daltons. Daltons mostly don’t try to open a safe in the bank. They steal the safe. Puzzle boxes are very small and easy to carry and all thieves can expect something valuable from a nice box impossible to open. I think your empty puzzle boxes too are in danger. This box don’t look like a puzzle box. But who can guarantee that your thief don’t steal desk top clocks?

For making the box, I made a model with famous burr puzzle solving software. I think this software is very useful for designing Japanese puzzle boxes. The box mechanic is same with the “Modified Matchbox” design of Bruce Viney. You can visit his website. You can see his art works and find some useful information about making puzzle boxes. You can download some free plans for beginners, or if you have experience about making puzzle boxes you can buy more complex box plans for very low prices.

I can say Japanese puzzle boxes aren’t beginner projects. I think you must have at least a little box making experience. If you like make a Japanese puzzle box I can advise first reading the experiences of Brian Pletcher from here. Making an excel data sheet is a very nice idea of Brian. There a lot of pieces. I can advise additionally sort this data according the dimensions and cut all same dimensions with one fence setup of your table saw.

After making a cube puzzle box, you can make anything that you like . A cube with clock, thermometer and barometer, cute robots, an old TV or radio are some ideas.

Tugboat puzzle box

Tugboat puzzle box   Another small matchbox safe from my workshop. This puzzle box is very similar to my “Cargo boat” puzzle box. I started both of them in same time. But the mechanism of this box is slightly different from other. This box looks like a child toy but I made this box as a matchbox safe. It’s possible also to put inside some small jewelry items like rings or earrings. If you want a bigger box, you can upscale this one.

If you want make your own box you can download from here free PDF file including drawings, plans, photos and craft tips from here. (0.6 MB on secure server box.com)

Secret of Binders

Book press puzzle box

In 21 th century inspiration comes sometimes with google image search. Before 1-2 months ago I was looking for a wooden olive oil press for making a small scale model in a bottle. I saw an antique book press sold in an auction. The drawer of the book press inspired me for designing this book press puzzle.

I call this puzzle “The secret of binders”. Because I have a story about a binding master of the royal library that build this press with a secret drawer for protecting his golden sheets used for book ornaments. I like puzzles with stories like Sam Loyd puzzles.

If you don’t say anything, this puzzle looks like a small scale model. After learning it’s very easy to guess where is the secret box. But finding how to open it isn’t so easy. For opening the box you must solve three different puzzles. The puzzles aren’t difficult to solve for puzzle enthusiasts but there are some nice surprises and also there are some wrong road signs for solution.

This puzzle is a small size model of the original. The overall dimension are about 92x170x250 mm. For me, finding the right material for puzzle craft is more difficult than all puzzles. I designed this puzzles according to my materials and made some small changes according to my workshop capabilities. The most difficult challenge was finding a small knob for drawer. I used mahogany and beech. For the book cover I used padauk. And in the inside of the book I used olive. Olive texture looks like a real old paper.My blog followers know the source of olive and padauk from my old projects.

If you like to play with this puzzle you must make one copy for you. If you like make your own book press puzzle you can download this free PDf files including building plans, drawings and craft tips. This files include also a lot of photo.

Secret of binders puzzle box plans (0.6 MB on secure server box.com)
Secret of binders craft tips and more photos (2.4 MB on secure server box.com)

Cargo Boat

Cargo boat ft

Another small and unusual puzzle design from my workshop. The cargo of this boat is a matchbox. I designed this puzzle as a tricky opening matchbox safe. But I don’t advise to put matchbox inside of an object attractive for children.

This box has not an ingenious mechanism but an easy and funny project. Opening this box isn’t difficult. But can you guess this ? It looks like a small wooden boat. At first look it’s a child toy. But when you open it, inside there are a hidden compartment. If you make this box bigger, you can obtain a big box.

cargo boat open

If you like make your own puzzle, you can preview or download from here free PDF file (1.1 MB on secure server box.com) including more photos, plans, drawings and craft tips.

Lobster Box

Lobster puzzle box

This puzzle box is my another design. I can say this is third generation of “Twin Lock Box” This time there aren’t any visible keys or holes. For opening the box you must use gravity and magnetism. And lobster is a mile stone for the solution

I made the box from ovenghaul. It’s a nice hard wood with a rich texture. First I was planing a red lobster. For this reason I selected a clear wood for box. After some try, I decided to this color for lobster. On this box, I also rounded all edges. I think the box looks better. Overall dimensions of this box is 92x92x150 mm.

I carved the lobster from a hard wood. For my box ornaments I read a book about traditional Japanese small scale wood carvings called “Netsuke”. The name of this book is “Carving Netsuke”. A nice book for learning method and tools. Thanks for this free e book to Mr.Tom Sterling. You can visit his web site and learn more about carving netsuke and you can see his art works and download this free ebook. This lobster is my first attempt. I like use that type of carvings in my future projects.

The lobster on this box is only for hiding a small magnet. If you don’t have enough carving experience or ıf you don’t like carve a lobster, you can make a different ornament for hiding the magnet.

If you like make your own puzzle box, you can download from here free PDF file (1.4 MB on secure server box.com)

Toothpick Box

Toothpick puzzle box

I call this box “Toothpick Box”. Mechanic of the box is exactly same with “Twin Lock Box”. For this box I made side panels longer for hiding wooden keys. On each side of the box there are five small hole (5 mm diameter) For opening the box you must configure wooden keys by pushing them. Because of production clearances there are a small clearance on box cover. That makes easier to find the cover but it’s not important. Because finding the cover don’t help to open the box.

I made this box from padauk. They call some time “ Blood wood” I was expecting an orange color. But its red. I am not sure is that true color or the wood is exposed to sun light on seller shop. Because on woodworker sites they say this wood becomes darker when exposed to sun light.


This is my first puzzle with padauk. All workshop, my clothes and me became red because of sanding dust It paint everything like an oil pastel. This is a little bigger box (82x92x150 mm) Dimensions are planned for less scrap from my material.

From photos, you can see some inside details. If you like make your own puzzle box, you can download from here free PDF file (0.8 MB on secure server box.com)

Twin Lock Box

Twin lock box ft

This tricky opening box is my original design. This is a simple puzzle box. I applied the mechanic of my “Tricky opening bottle” to this box. On both side of the box there are 5 wooden sliding key. Each key has two position and can move until the borders of the box. For opening this box, you must find the correct position of each key. This is mostly a wooden combination lock mechanism. After opening the box you can remove all keys and you can arrange your own configuration by changing their order. If your friend have the same box, he can’t open yours.

You can see inside of the box from this photo. There are total ten keys, box and box cover. When you change the key configuration, you must memorize it for opening your box later. For this reason you must know front and back side of the puzzle. But I don’t put any mark or ornament on the box. Instead of this for making the box I used a kind of olive wood. This wood has a rich texture and it’s easy to memorize the front side of the box. I draw an other variant with hidden keys. This variation has a fixed key configuration. A project for next weeks.You can apply this mechanic to a coin bank with a funny coin send mechanism The overall dimensions of this box is about 70x82x150 mm.

If you like make your own puzzle box, you can download from here free PDF file (0.5 MB on secure server box.com) or you can see step by step instructions from instructables.com