Picture of Solid Maple
2011-12-23 15.29.12.jpg
In this Instructable I will explain how I made the "unseen maze" as a challenging gift for my brother last Christmas.

The maze is made from solid maple, and has a compartment inside that contains the real gift.  The compartment remains locked until the challenge is completed.

The goal is to have a marble travel through two separate mazes until the marble becomes the "key" to unlocking the not-so-secret compartment.  The challenge is that the maze is not visible from the outside, and one must use sound, gravity, and patience to complete....or go crazy.

It has been over 9 months since I gave this gift to my brother.  When asked how he's progressing, the answer is usually, "I'm not really sure if I am making progress, or just going backwards."

Hopefully he'll unlock it one day....

In the figures below, I show the CAD assembly I used as the design baseline (shown in transparent so you can see the internal maze), and the second figure is the finished (but not assembled) product.

Step 1: Model/Design the Maze

Picture of Model/Design the Maze
I'm an engineer by trade, but also by hobby.  It took me months to simply dream up this idea, but only 2 days to build the final product.

To ensure that the design would work, and also to work out the maze itself, I used CAD software to design the maze before cutting any wood. The maze is constructed from 7.5" x 7.5" x .75" square boards, stacked 4 high for a total of 3" height.

Shown in the figures are exploded views of the mazes, compartment area, and lock/key assembly.

There are two mazes included in this; one on top, and one on bottom.  The marble is inserted into the top maze via a hole in the top, then the marble must travel through the first maze, where the exit of the first maze (on top) is the entrance to the bottom maze.  Once the bottom maze is completed, the marble falls between what i call the lock and key.  The lock and key are two pieces of wood that are not otherwise connected without the marble--the marble completes the connection and allows the key to actuate the lock--unlocking the compartment.

This looks awesome! I love these kind of puzzles that make the gift recipient work for the goods.
pitzhr2 years ago
I agree that this could be a great product! I've never seen anything like this before. It's a great way of giving the others their presents :)
dkrane2 years ago
Could I please get your cad drawings for this project, thank you.
pullinsb (author)  dkrane9 months ago

I added step 9 to include the files.

mpeg3man9 months ago
Hello great maze i want to make it for a geocache van i have the cad files fort it please!? great job you did thanks in advance!
pullinsb (author)  mpeg3man9 months ago

I added step 9 to include the files.

can I too have a copy of the CAD files?

pullinsb (author)  metzbomber129 months ago

I added step 9 to include the files.

ve3nud1 year ago
May I please have copy of CAD files?
pullinsb (author)  ve3nud9 months ago

I added step 9 to include the files.

Now that looks cool. Good job!!
pullinsb (author)  DividersMaker2 years ago
thank you.
kewrw282 years ago
WOW, you did this with a router???
pullinsb (author)  kewrw282 years ago
c1e3212 years ago
I've just started out with woodworking and I'm building a popsicle stick version of this project. Thought it would be a good idea to give this to my future girlfriend (I'm still single).

Just wondering, do you have to varnish the interior too? Or just the visible parts?
pullinsb (author)  c1e3212 years ago
finishing was the last thing that i had done, i stained the small parts 100%. but only stained the outside of the maze.

as for varnish, i was careful to only do the outside, and prevent the varnish from gluing any of the parts together.
c1e3212 years ago
Since no one will be able to look into the maze anyway.
OlManJeb2 years ago
Great instructable. Have you thought of marketing it? I'd be interested in trying my hand at making it.
pullinsb (author)  OlManJeb2 years ago
I had never considered marketing it until now. You're the second person this month who has suggested it.

When you make yours, be sure to post it!