Picture of Hidden Treasure Box - Inlaid Wood Box with Hidden Compartment
This box has an inlaid wood exterior with a custom mermaid design, padded satin lining, and secret compartment in the bottom that is held closed magnetically and only opens if you know how to do it. I looked at a lot of historical furniture pieces for inspiration - Jefferson boxes, letter boxes, captain's desks and spice cabinets were all often built with very clever hidden compartments. The mechanism I used isn't based on anything historical, but it works well and isn't noticeable if you don't know to look for it.

I lack the time and inclination to become skilled at true marquetry. Anyone who knows anything about early furniture making knows how much time, effort and specialized skill is required. I used the precision of a laser to make up for a lot of that skill and effort. That said, this still isn't a project I would call 'quick and easy.' There is a lot of sanding, drying and finishing time involved.

I chose a mermaid motif for this box. When I was doing the design I just kept coming back to the idea of mermaids. I chose a beach glass green for the lining to keep with the theme.

*Check step 2 for a non-laser alternatives update!*
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tim_n2 years ago
How big were your veneers for the cutter? I've found relatively cheap 6" x 10" on ebay, would they be suitable?
technoplastique (author)  tim_n2 years ago
I use veneers in all sorts of sizes, you'll need a few pieces at 6x10 but they would definitely work. Sometimes really large pieces will spring into a curve when you're laser cutting sections out of them.
rnorman32 years ago
for the metal, you say " Metal - 1/2 by 3 or so" and the magnets are "1/4 magnets". are these in inches?
technoplastique (author)  rnorman32 years ago
Yes, those are inches, I'll fix the text. Thanks!
This is beautiful done
a918bmxr3 years ago
great work
absolutely beautiful
keep up the good work
melissa_b044 years ago
stumbled upon this instructable, and I think it's brilliant. I'm not familiar with any of the items you worked with...veneer, contact paper, etc... I mostly re-utilize stuff... but I am gonna give this a shot. I will definitely start off with a very elementary box though. No designs or secret candy compartment... awesome gift box idea!. Great job girl!
mrehfeld4 years ago
HAHA I have the same book and use it for the same reason. I've been shlepping mine around for over 12 years
CottMouMou4 years ago
You are a genious! love ya!
MrSpinn5 years ago
 How did you carve those notches (dovetails?) They look extremely precise for being carved into 1/8 inch wood.
You can make it precise like that by hand by using a jig that you can buy. my dad has one. Also those aren't dovetails, dovetails look more like triangles. or /_\ .
technoplastique (author)  MrSpinn5 years ago
They're laser cut. I've cut some delicate notches by hand before but it's not easy!
joef076 years ago
hey look in to making a a mayan secret box. there really cool.
technoplastique (author)  joef075 years ago
Will do! There are so many amazing possibilities in the 'hiding things cleverly' genre.
I have an idea to lock the secret compartment by using the top as a kind of "combination lock." Once I work it out and try it i will try to post photos.
startree5 years ago
great instructable, technoP! and a fabulous bit of work too. Only one thing I'd like would be to have more comments in your photos, helps me keep up with what you've done in a more visual way. But thanks for the effort you've put into the instructable!
paulpcc6 years ago
very nice.. i once made a jigsaw puzzle from mdf with a hinged outer box, but that was a sophisticated as i could manage. Would be nice to try out your box. very nice. (for brief moment it reminded me of some kind of pandoras / hellraiser puzzle box) - have you ever tried making one of those? :o)
technoplastique (author)  paulpcc6 years ago
I haven't tried any other puzzle boxes - aside from junior high industrial tech and framing paintings I haven't really done any other woodwork. I'm really looking forward to playing around with some other designs with secrets, though!
ok cool
there are very cool puzzle boxes available. my dad is making me some soon. hehe
Honus6 years ago
Fine Woodworking has a build a box contest:

Could be a contender!
technoplastique (author)  Honus6 years ago
You're so sweet to tell me! Thank you - I'll totally enter that (and the gallery has tons of inspirational ideas!)
You're welcome! Glad to help out- hopefully you'll win a really nice table saw.
Creative and well done!
DIYfan6 years ago
Who chose this project to be a winner? I don't understand the criteria.
prplubell6 years ago
hey i love this project but could you please put the design in a word document im afraid i don't have the software to use this but i would really enjoy doing it
I love your box and only wish I could make something as beautiful. 2 questions. How much did this cost you to make? roughly.... and Do you have any plans or tips for making such a box (with less detail but still have the hidden compartment) for someone who knows nothing about wood working? lol
mmh6 years ago
Congratulations! Nice project. I hope you enjoy the tools.
daltonjcw6 years ago
any one know if there is a wood burning Instructable out there ?? if not , race you to it!
maxidaxi6 years ago
wow what a beautiful piece of functional art ! Do you sell these by any chance?,I'm interested in purchasing one or two.Great job.
aristocob6 years ago
Very nice inlay work! Good luck in the next round!
technoplastique (author)  aristocob6 years ago
Thanks! I'll need it - there were a lot of great projects!
Honus6 years ago
What a beautiful piece of work- amazing!
technoplastique (author)  Honus6 years ago
Thank you!
"No more games Kirsty"
technoplastique (author)  gerrrtrudicus6 years ago
Do I know you in real life?
Lol, there's a story behind this, I'm dying to hear.
Ha. no. its just something i probably misquoted from hellraiser 2. you know, the whole puzzlebox thing
technoplastique (author)  gerrrtrudicus6 years ago
That's awesome! I will explain my confusion: I've never seen Hellraiser (I know, I just don't watch that many movies.) My first name is Kris, and 'Kirsty' wouldn't be the most it's been butchered. My sister spends her hacking time modding board games (at least lately.) I think you can see how these three things combined into confusion. I get the visual connection to the box now, and I really want to see that movie...
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