Picture of Rubik's cube chest of drawers

30 years on from its invention, Rubik's cube is still instantly recognizable. People like picking it up, turning it a few times, maybe doing a side or two (or five, as a braggart in my class once memorably claimed). Solving the cube remains a reasonably rare feat - you're either smart enough to have figured it out yourself, or geeky enough to have followed a how-to, and most people are neither (then, of course, there is the astonishing Feliks Zemdegs...).

Rubik's cube is not just the quintessential hand-held puzzle, though: it's also an iconic piece of design, so I co-opted it when making a new chest of drawers for my son's room. This cubic piece of furniture has only one of the three required axes of rotation, so is unsolvable in the conventional sense, but can be arranged in any configuration you like by non-sporting means. The drawers do pose a brain-bending challenge: the first thing you have to solve is detecting that they're there, and all three have hidden locks in different locations.

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Step 1: Design

Picture of Design
Unsurprisingly, there are lots of bits of furniture around that are based on the Rubik's cube; coffee tables are particularly popular, and for 980€ (!!), you can even buy a Rubik's cube locker. I wanted to do something different, and use lazy Susan bearings to achieve at least one axis of rotation - they're cheap, really strong, and add a wacky dimension to a chest of drawers.

The design is simply three boxes, each containing a single drawer. Their construction is basic - they're made of 1/4" and 1/2" plywood (which you should get precut at the lumber yard into two 2'x8' sheets), and assembled using a brad nailer and wood glue. This method of construction is super fast and precise, and results in really strong objects. The main challenge in this build is cutting the pieces with high precision - if you can't cut plywood to within 1 mm, you should probably practice on something simpler until you can. Having said that, I'm no pro and I've never made a chest of drawers before, so this project is NOT fancy woodworking by any means! If you weren't fussed about the drawers, it would be dead easy - it's just three boxes and a couple of lazy Susans, and you'd have a cool coffee table with no additionally functionality aside from rotatability. Deluxe Scrabble, anyone?

I was going to simply glue the "stickers" on to decorate the outside - or even just paint them on - but the future owner insisted he had to be able to scramble and "solve" the cube, so I enabled this with the help of rare-earth magnets for holding power and short dowels for positioning. I'm glad I did - it's more fun now, and the colors can be selected to match your mood or decor, including impossible combos of color (insofar as the real cube goes).

The puzzle is a little under 60 mm across, and this chest of drawers is exactly 600 mm across, so it is in approximately 10:1 scale. 1000 regular Rubik's cubes would therefore fit inside.

There are cubes that are 2x2, 4x4, 5x5 etc, so if you need more (or less) drawers, there is an obvious design solution...
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This is awesome! My brother's birthday is coming up and he loves Rubik's Cubes, so this would be perfect.

makendo (author)  Nicolas_Flamel2 months ago

good luck with the build

kahht6 months ago

Ridiculously brilliant! I'll definitely be building one of these one I get a house... and tools :)

Hello just wondering where you get the 12" lazy susans from as we have been unable to find any

makendo (author)  ruth.gilchrist8 months ago

See link in Step 2

You in the US ?

makendo (author)  ruth.gilchrist8 months ago

No. But Lee Valley Tools has a US site; click on the flag at the top of the page.

Hey man, this is my first instructable, I really really liked your design but dont trust in my ability to make something as high quality as yours so ive gone instead for a 25x25 rubix cube coffee table where the top 3rd is actually a removable lid with secret locks hidden behind two of the covered panels thanks for the inspiration!
makendo (author)  alexgibb0031 year ago
Sounds great! Post a picture/link if you can.
sdean101 year ago
How do the draw open
makendo (author)  sdean101 year ago
With the edges of the face of the drawers. They're hard to see but easy to grip with your fingertips.
nmertens2 years ago
I come from Belgium and i dont speak english but i have make my own rubik's cube !

It does not turn. This is the first piece of furniture I make and I'm very happy !

Thanks for your instructable !

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makendo (author)  nmertens2 years ago
Fantastic! Great job, it looks really nicely finished. Thanks for posting the pictures.
tokuta2 years ago
hey how much did this cost?
makendo (author)  tokuta2 years ago
see step 2
bowlen1992 years ago
amazing build by the way as everyone else above agrees. I love the interactivity of it and how well it was finished.
very roughly how long do you think this took you to build?
makendo (author)  bowlen1992 years ago
Thanks. About 6 weeks, very much part-time. Maybe 20 hours, as a wild guess?
HollyMann2 years ago
you are amazing! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!
bfk3 years ago
So cool! I want one & I'm over 60
mad_mat3 years ago
Epic build Makendo, top shelf.
'bout how many hours?
makendo (author)  mad_mat3 years ago
thanks. Hmm, really hard to guess how many hours, because I built in in scraps of time on weekends and evenings over about a six-week period. I know I built the drawers themselves very quickly - maybe a few hours - but slowed right down when it came to the repetitive parts, because I'm easily bored and cutting/drilling/gluing/painting all those stickers wasn't particularly exciting work. It would be a hard project to do quickly I think, because I seem to remember doing a lot of small jobs that then took time to dry, whether it was glue or paint.
Almost have mine finished.
makendo (author)  antony.trupe3 years ago
Antony - that's fantastic, good work! Keep me updated, it would be great to see the fully stickered version.
Melissa W3 years ago
This is gorgeous. Seriously love it. I featured it at The Storage Geek With full credit and link back.
makendo (author)  Melissa W3 years ago
Thanks Melissa.
majorson3 years ago
Inspiring! lovely father..  
If you intereted, Learn:

How to solve a Rubik's Cube

(Great animated guide for beginners, I'm sure you'll success shortly..)


baba873 years ago
Awesome. You should sell these!
Ok I want to make a chest, but not one this huge. I was thinking something more like the size of a jewelry box. What would my new dimensions be and would any of the steps be different? I would love this as a chest, but I just don't have the space in my room. It would be great if you could help me make a smaller version of this!
makendo (author)  scaremeifucan14283 years ago
Well, you can get smaller lazy Susan bearings (see materials step) and you wouldn't need the metal slides for a dinky little cube like the one you're planning. You would need to be good at making small boxes, though, which is an art I have no experience with (my background, such as it is, is in carpentry rather than woodworking). The removable stickers would be pretty fiddly to scale down, so you might have to come up with another solution (just painting them on would be easiest, or sticking on vinyl of the right colors).
As for your dimensions - how big is a jewelry box? That's how big it needs to be. About 1/3 the size of this one, i.e. about 1'x1'x1' sounds about right. It would be a cool project - good luck with it!
lanvy-nyc3 years ago
karbuckle3 years ago
This is genius at it's best. I didn't realize it was seperate drawers on each layer. I thought it was just a square box with the lid that opened for storage. I will build these for my kids for sure!
makendo (author)  karbuckle3 years ago
Thanks, good to hear - post a photo if you get it done!
Sorry to keep bugging you with questions - but i am in the market for a new router - any recommendations? would i need a variable speed router for this project?

Im looking at the Porter-Cable 690LR 11 Amp Fixed-Base Router which is ~ 120 shipped.

oops - and also the DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit which is a variable that comes w/ a plunge addon...
makendo (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
I've not owned a Porter-Cable tool so can't comment on them, but I've used a few De Walts and the quality is excellent - my DW miter saw is fantastic. I have a single speed 1.25 HP Makita plunge router, and it's good. You only need variable speed if you're planning to use big bits (not necessary in this project), in which case you should get one with a bigger motor. I hardly ever use the plunge capability, but it's handy to have, so the combo kit sounds pretty smart. Good luck with the build - post photos if you get it done!
this is super cool
Bard3 years ago
Just out of curiosity how much did you sell it for?
makendo (author)  Bard3 years ago
My kids would riot it I sold it! I've made one, and it is not for sale.
Bard makendo3 years ago
the way the instructible was written it sound like it was a commissioned build that's why i asked. Nice design by the way.
makendo (author)  Bard3 years ago
Ah, gotcha. Yes, it was - but the commission was issued by my 6-year old son. So the pay was lousy (i.e. 0) but the level of appreciation was priceless :)
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