Introduction: Puzzle Box

Picture of Puzzle Box

This is a pretty simple build and can be used as an intelligence test for your friends. The project was reversed engineered from pictures I saw online. In addition, a smaller version with a cool burn finish built by marsjer000 is documented here.

The complete drawing is shown below. Check out the YouTube videos for animation and actual build. Have fun!

Animation Video

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools


  • Wood - 3 1/2" x 1/2" x 60"
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Stain


  • Table saw
  • Band saw (optional)
  • Drill and 1/4" bit
  • Sander
  • Clamps

Step 2: Top Level

Picture of Top Level

Use these views when referring to the parts in the steps below. Note that all dimensions are for a perfect fit. Sanding will be required to prevent interference.

Step 3: Box Top and Bottom

Picture of Box Top and Bottom

Cut top and bottom - each is 3 1/2" x 9 3/4". Add 2 grooves to each piece 1 1/8" from each side. I used a table saw which has a 1/16" thick blade. The grooves should be 1/8" deep. Cut corner block off each side. The cuts should line up with the start of the groove and run 1" into the board. I used a band saw for this cut. Save blocks since they will be used later. Also, add a reference note in pencil on each block to match up to the correct side.

Step 4: Cut Box Sides and Back

Picture of Cut Box Sides and Back

Cut box sides – 1 1/2" x 6 1/8" & 1 1/2" x 9 3/4" and box back – 1 1/2" x 2 1/2". Don't drill the hole at this level. It will be added later.

Step 5: Assemble Box

Picture of Assemble Box

Assemble top, bottom, sides and back with glue and/or nails. If nailed, keep nails at least 1/2" from the future dowel hole. Sand assembly.

Step 6: Cut Main Drawer Parts

Picture of Cut Main Drawer Parts

Cut drawer bottom - 2 1/2" x 5 1/8" , drawer sides - 1 " x 5 1/8" and drawer back - 1 1/2" x 2 1/2". Don't drill hole at this level. It will be added later.

Step 7: Assemble Main Drawer

Picture of Assemble Main Drawer

Assemble bottom, sides, front and back with glue and/or nails. Carefully attach finger blocks as shown. Refer to the reference notes made on the blocks to assure the blocks match the top and bottom sides. Note that thin shims might be required under the blocks to assure alignment with top and bottom sides. Sand assembly.

Step 8: Cut Side Drawer Parts

Picture of Cut Side Drawer Parts

Cut drawer bottom - 2" x 3 1/8", drawer sides 2" x 1", drawer front - 3 5/8" x 1 1/2" and drawer back - 3 1/8" x 1 1/2". Two of the eight short trim pieces (2 1/2" x 1") will be added to this assembly.

Step 9: Assemble Side Drawer

Picture of Assemble Side Drawer

Don't add trim pieces at this point. Sand assembly.

Step 10: Add Trim

Picture of Add Trim

Per the drawing, draw alignment lines around the perimeter of the box for the 4 trim rings. Add the 8 long trim pieces to the top and bottom sides. Next, add 5 short trim pieces to the sides. Then, add the 2 short trim pieces to the side drawer. These should be a snug fit to provide friction so drawer doesn't slide out. Add the last trim piece (dowel trim) - DON'T GLUE THIS PIECE.

Step 11: Add Pin Assembly

Picture of Add Pin Assembly

Place main drawer inside box. Make sure front of drawer is flush with the front of the box. With side trim aligned, drill a very small hole through the trim, box and drawer. Remove trim and drill a 1/4" diameter hole through box/drawer assembly. With the small hole as a guide, drill a 1/4" diameter, 1/4" deep hole into the trim. Glue pin into the trim. Fill small hole with wood filler or glue/sawdust.

Step 12: Sand Assembly

Picture of Sand Assembly

Clean up the edges of the trim by sanding. I also rounded all the corners.

Step 13: Finish

Picture of Finish

Finish as desired. I used red oak stain.

See description in YouTube videos to download a free drawing file.


jdesquire (author)2014-08-11

Fun project! I added another dowel peg between the end of the long drawer and the side of the side drawer to lock the side drawer in place while fully assembled. Looking forward to making more, possibly more complicated, puzzle boxes.

mtairymd (author)jdesquire2014-08-12

I'm always worried that the side drawer is going to fall out when people are trying to open the puzzle. That's a really good idea!

giuseppec46 (author)2017-01-13

there is any chance that you could post measures in decimal?

thanks a lot :)

mtairymd (author)giuseppec462017-01-13

All of the dimensions are in decimal format. I think I tried to keep everything in 1/8" increments so it would be easier to see on a ruler.

shaunaxx (author)2016-03-08

this looks like a nice idea

WalidM (author)2015-03-21

nice project........

skippysquirl (author)2015-01-11

Very interesting! I have plans to make this as soon as I get time on my hands.

mtairymd (author)skippysquirl2015-01-12

Thank you. Make sure you add the additional dowel peg as jdesquire suggested below.

jmwells (author)2014-02-16

Excellent work! I'll be making this soon. Only difference, I'll use my scroll saw in place of the bandsaw.

mtairymd (author)jmwells2014-02-17

Thanks. The only critical cut is the for the finger blocks since you want to keep the gap as thin as possible in order to hide the cut. A scroll saw should work well.

jmwells (author)mtairymd2014-02-17

My thoughts exactly. I'm thinking about a minor distressed look. Rough scratches with the grain, and a slightly weathered stain look.

marsjer000 (author)2014-02-16

Looks good

mtairymd (author)marsjer0002014-02-17

Thanks for the inspiration!

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
More by mtairymd:Disentanglement PuzzleMetal Wire Puzzle SolutionsBird's Mouth Votive Candle Holder
Add instructable to: