Introduction: Acrylic Penny Maze

Picture of Acrylic Penny Maze

So,  I made the simple Cardboard Penny Maze.

But, it wasn't quite enough.

Enter the laser cutter...

Step 1: Planning

Picture of Planning

Planning started the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper.

I worked on squared paper, planning routes up and down through five layers. I exploited the squares' size to plan 20mm channels, allowing both one cent and one penny coins to be used in the maze.

I then scanned the sketches into PDF files, and used InkScape to "draw over" the PDFs, and save the digital versions as DXF files.

Don’t have a laser cutter?
Download the Ponoko ready SVG design file ("Acrylic Maze All Layers") and upload to the Ponoko site. Select 3mm thick x "P3" sized sheet of clear acrylic. Wait a couple of days and you’ll receive your custom cut acrylic pieces for the project in the post. From here, you’ll want to skip to step 3 and start assembling, as step 2 is all about cutting if you have a laser.

Step 2: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

The path sections of the maze were made from 3/16 inch clear acrylic, and the separating layers were cut from 1/8 inch clear acrylic.

The former was the closest available thickness that would allow the coins to move freely, the latter was the thinnest acrylic available, to keep the bulk of the maze down a little, and to stop coins falling at an odd angle and getting stuck.

I used an Epilog laser cutter, at the setting recommended by the operating manual for the materials.

If you want to cut your own, just choose the files from this step in the format that is suitable for your laser cutter.

Leave the protective film on the acrylic during cutting, to protect your exposed surfaces..

Step 3: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

I popped out the off-cuts, and peeled off the protective film before arranging the layers in order and bolting them together.

When I used Ponoko to make a maze, I decided not to use wing-nuts so that it was smoother thing to handle and less, well, wing-nutty.

A word of warning: if you are using my original files, check the bolt-hole alignment - as a result of them being basically hand-drawn, some of the holes needed a quick go with a dremel to round them off and line them up.

It is important that I held the layers together with bolts, rather than adhesive, because the square section in the lower layers is a trap - if your penny ends up in there, you have failed, and can only get your money back by dismantling the maze.


Step 4: Does It Work?

Picture of Does It Work?

Did it work?

Did it distract people around the office from their proper work?

Did it cause fascination and frustration in equal measure?

Did it distract Conker-X from his computer?


This was a fun project - I need to think of an excuse to use laser cutters again!


andreic55 made it! (author)2017-08-16

this is great! i made my own version with other quirky tracks and fake holes on different "levels/stages". :)

Kiteman (author)andreic552017-08-18

Wow, truly tricksy!

aymanlee (author)2016-04-04

Hello, what kind of screws do you use? Did you make a threaded hole for the screws?

Kiteman (author)aymanlee2016-04-05

They're 1/4 inch bolts with a matching wing-nut.

The holes are not threaded, they're just circles cut in each layer.

kracken42 (author)2014-03-16

This is incredible.

Kiteman (author)kracken422014-03-16

Thank you!

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-02-12

Great work, I really like this.

Kiteman (author)Fikjast Scott2014-02-12

Thank you!

mg0930mg (author)2012-08-24

I really like this Kiteman. If I owned a laser cutter this would be one of the first projects I did. :P

Kiteman (author)mg0930mg2012-08-24

I guess it would be possible to make it by hand, just a lot more time consuming. Unless routers work on acrylic?

bricabracwizard (author)Kiteman2013-09-05

Routers do work on acrylic...I've machined so many acrylic parts with a router. On that point I would like to create your puzzle with a router. Do you have PDFs with just the outline of each layer? I could use these as templates...thanks.

Kiteman (author)bricabracwizard2013-09-05

The first file in step one is actually a PDF file that is all that remains of my original sketches.

bricabracwizard (author)Kiteman2013-09-05

The first four pages of the PDF I think will work. If you have time can you clarify or re PDF the last three pages.

Kiteman (author)bricabracwizard2013-11-07

Sorry it took so long, but I found the right pendrive with the files for this project. I've added everything I've got to Step 1 - note that there are *two* PDFs of the sketches.

bricabracwizard (author)Kiteman2013-11-11

Thanks Kiteman! I've printed off the PDFs now to find that acrylic...I will send you a picture when I've completed it. With any luck it should look like your one, although the cuts will be hand routed.

Kiteman (author)mg0930mg2012-08-24

A lot of schools are starting to invest in technology like this (my own is, soon), so maybe you could put together a list of cool laser-cut projects and wave them at your teachers?

andrea biffi (author)2013-08-25

that's cool! :-)

Kiteman (author)andrea biffi2013-08-25


blueangelical (author)2013-05-14

I love it, would a £1 coin fit? Could you make one that does, how much to buy one off you please, I could put my kids pocket money in and they get to keep it if they can get it out.

Kiteman (author)blueangelical2013-05-14

You'd have to re-size the files (a 5p works fine in this one), and use thicker acrylic for the maze layers, but it would work after that.

I'm afraid I can't make another for sale (the laser cutter I used is in San Francisco, I am in the UK), but you are welcome to use the files to get one made by one of the growing number of online laser cutter services, such as Ponoko.

poofrabbit (author)2012-11-04

This is a neat idea! Well done!

Kiteman (author)poofrabbit2012-11-04

Thank you!

fozzy13 (author)2012-09-04

I saw the title on the homepage and thought to myself, "I'll get Kiteman made that with the laser cutters at Instructables!!".. I was right; it looks great : )

Kiteman (author)fozzy132012-09-04

Thank you!

Carleyy (author)2012-08-24

Kiteman this is awesome! I was playing with it earlier and it was lots of fun!

Kiteman (author)Carleyy2012-08-26

Cool, thank you.

So far, I only know of two people finishing it - one was Eric, the other was my youngest son (although he had access to my design sketches...)

Kiteman (author)2012-08-24

There was a suggestion in the office to use different colours of clear acrylic to provide a visual clue of your depth in the maze, but that would have been too nice of me...

fungus amungus (author)Kiteman2012-08-24

What about two opaque separators in the middle? That way you have one hidden part of the maze (3) and you have to turn it over to see either 1&2 or 4&5.

Kiteman (author)fungus amungus2012-08-26

I wondered about something similar...

karlpinturr (author)Kiteman2012-08-24

Ahhh..! - You have in mind something a little more fiendish, then..?

rimar2000 (author)2012-08-24

I did your cardboard penny maze, it works very well. This other seems much more industrial grade, congratulations.

Kiteman (author)rimar20002012-08-24

Well, since I have the files, I could, in theory, start mass-producing them...

rimar2000 (author)Kiteman2012-08-25

When you win your first million of dollars, please send me ten dollars by way of tester.

karlpinturr (author)2012-08-24

This does look good - I like the leap from a single-layered, working blind, pocket-sized cardboard (almost prototype?) version up to a 5-layered, decidedly-NOT-pocket-sized acrylic monster...:-D

Personally, I might have gone for a strong (but still transparent) blue-coloured acrylic (assuming the choice was there), but that's probably just me...

What's next, I wonder? - More layers? Moving/pivoting sections (might be a problem for re-assembly when trapped)? And maybe an opaque sheet (or 2?) of acrylic or polypropylene, so you're back to working blind?

I'd love to see Mark 3...

lewisb42 (author)2012-08-24

This is awesome. It tickles the same part of me that loves marble runs.

Jayefuu (author)2012-08-24

Looks good!

"This was a fun project - I need to think of an excuse to use laser cutters again!"

Challenge: You know that dinosaur AD love? The one that's been done in slicer? Get that, but in the middle layer add a cavity and a slot in the top. In the layers either side of the middle, add just the cavity. Money bank!!!!!

SHIFT! (author)2012-08-24

This is like an Ant farm for the Rubik's cube genners!

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
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