In this video Instructable I'll show you how I built a replica of the puzzle box from the Hellraiser movie. I took screen captures from Hellraiser and traced the designs in the attached images and the PDF (I will make another Instructable about that process - this one is just about the physical build). I used a CNC router to engrave these designs, but for those without access to a CNC router, I have attached a PDF of a vectorized version of the box, which you could print onto gold paper, cut out, and fold into a model. For an added challenge, you could use the toner transfer method to etch the PDF onto brass.

Happy Halloween! This would make a great accessory for an awesome Pinhead costume. Though as far as I know, Clive Barker hates that nickname for the character... If anyone builds this, I would love to know.

You will need

  • Dark wood veneer (Black Walnut / Cassia / Blackwood) - I don't know which wood I used because it came from a job lot of veneer. It has a sweet smell when sanded. You need enough to make at least 6 8x8cm squares.
  • 4-6mm thick plywood or MDF sheet - You need enough to make at least 6 8x8cm squares.
  • Gold spray paint
  • Lacquer for cars, in a spray can
  • PVA glue
  • CNC router
  • Dremel 0.8mm engraving bit
  • Table saw with adjustable blade angle, and sledge with a stop
  • 400 and 1200 grit sandpaper
  • Very flat bit of wood (or a good quality sanding block)
  • Clamps and / or weights
  • Saw
  • Double sided tape
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Flat sheet of scrap wood
  • Plastic bag or sheet
  • Engineer's / set square
  • Professional (blue) masking tape
  • Microfibre cloth

1:53 Cut out a piece from the 6mm plywood large enough to stick down all the veneer. Alternatively, you could just use a 6mm thick sheet of high quality dark wood, if you have one.

2:13 If you're using strips of veneer, mark parallel lines on the 6mm ply to help you stick down the strips roughly straight (does not have to be exact).

2:16 Spread PVA glue on the 6mm ply thinly and evenly, and press the veneer on to the glue.

2:29 Place a plastic bag or plastic sheeting over the veneer, place the flat sheet of scrap wood over that, then weigh or clamp the scrap wood down. The plastic will prevent the scrap wood sticking to the veneer.

Wait 24 hours for the glue to dry. After 12 hours you can remove the scrap wood and plastic to help the glue dry quicker.

2:43 Using the table saw edge, cut 9-10cm wide strips of the veneered ply. Thanks to https://www.youtube.com/user/miscpro for use of his table saw!

3:08 Remove the sledge from the table saw and tilt the blade to 45 degrees. Set up the table saw guide so that the veneered surface of the wood will be cut to 8cm wide. (The guide was 67mm from the blade, for my 5-6mm thick sheet). Cut 45 degree angles onto the edges of the veneered strips.

3:33 Make a note of the distance between the guide and the table saw blade, then tilt the blade back to 90 degrees and place the sledge back on the table saw.

3:38 Trim the rough ends off each of the veneered strips.

3:45 Set the stop on the table saw sledge to exactly one strip width away from the blade. Then push the strips against the stop as you cut pieces from it. This will make sure the pieces you cut from the strips will be exactly square. Cut as many of these 8x8cm squares from the strips as you can - if you get more than 6, that means you can afford to make some mistakes on the CNC router!

4:03 Remove the table saw sledge, tilt the blade to 45 degrees, and set the guide to the same distance from the blade that you made a note of earlier. Cut 45 degrees onto the straight edges you cut in the last step. So now all your squares should have 45 degrees on all their edges.

4:20 Test fit 6 pieces together to form a cube. They should go together without any big gaps at the edges.

Use Easel to engrave the black and white images attached to this Instructable onto the veneered squares.. I used a 0.8mm Dremel engraving bit, but a V-bit with V-carve would probably create great results.

4:23 Before importing an image, I set the bit size in the new Easel project to 0.8mm, and set the units to mm.

4:39 To import the image, click on Import -> Image trace. Click on Upload file, and choose one of the black and white images. Adjust the smoothing until the preview stops looking jagged. Click Invert, because the white areas in the image need to be recessed in the engraving.

5:09 On the Cut tab, set the cut depth to 0.2mm, and on the Shape tab, scale the imported design to 79mm x 79mm, with an X and Y offset of 0.5mm.

5:35 If you have an X-Carve or another GRBL CNC router, you can set up a square in the machine and cut right now. But if, like me, you are running another flavour of CNC router, you'll need to download the G-code. I made another Instructable to support this one, which goes into a lot more detail about how to run Easel G-code on other sorts of CNC machine: https://www.instructables.com/id/Run-Easel-Gcode-on...

5:57 Set up a veneered square on the bed of your CNC router. I used double sided tape to hold the squares down. You could use a vacuum table. As I stuck them down, I used an engineer's square pressed against the Y axis to make sure the wood was lined up with the axes of the machine.

6:05 Following the previous Easel / CNC steps, engrave 2 copies of each of the 3 designs, making the 6 sides of the box.

6:18 As you cut, collect the wood dust. You will use that later on to make wood filler.

6:50 On each square, sand the blowout / any ragged edges from the engraving using 1200 grit sandpaper wrapped around a flat bit of wood or a sanding block.

7:04 Brush the engravings thoroughly to remove all the wood dust. Any dust that's left will get stuck in the paint.

7:19 Spray the engravings with one coat of gold paint. Protect the surface underneath them with the plastic bag!

7:43 When the paint is touch dry, sand the paint off the raised areas of each square. Wrap the sandpaper around a flat bit of wood or a sanding block and be extremely careful not to sand the gold paint off the recessed areas of the engraving. Start sanding each piece with 400 grit paper, then when most of the paint is gone, use 1200 grit paper to polish the veneer.

8:16 Brush the engravings thoroughly again.

8:39 Spray the engravings with a coat of car lacquer.

8:50 Place the engravings on a smooth clean work surface. Arrange them as shown in the video.

8:57 Using blue masking tape, tape the edges that are next to each other together. Make sure that the edges are lined up precisely. Turn the pieces face down as you go.

9:28 Spread PVA glue along all the 45 degree edges.

9:38 Fold the pieces together along the taped edges. As more edges meet, tape those together. As you go, wipe glue off your hands, and off the outside of the edges, to avoid spoiling the outside of the cube.

10:20 Leave the glue to dry for 24 hours, then remove the tape.

10:40 Make some wood filler by mixing together 5ml of PVA glue with a roughly equal volume of the wood dust you collected from the engraving. The filler should have a putty-like consistency.

10:55 Mask off the edges of the gold designs on the cube, leaving about 1mm of wood exposed each side of the edges.

11:00 Smear the filler into the small gaps along each edge of the cube.

11:13 The wood filler should be dry in a few hours. I left it overnight to be certain. When it's dry, remove the tape, and sand the filled edges with a small piece of 400 grit sandpaper. Be careful not to sand the gold areas.

11:50 Wipe the cube with a microfibre cloth to remove all the wood dust.

12:00 Rest the cube on a platform smaller than its base, and lacquer 5 sides.

12:20 Once the lacquer is dry, turn the box over and lacquer the 6th side.

12:35 That's it! Just don't try to solve the puzzle ;)

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