Instructables

Solid Maple "Unseen Maze" Gift

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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.
 
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Step 1: Model/Design the Maze

Picture of Model/Design the Maze
esplode2.jpg
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.

metzbomber122 months ago

can I too have a copy of the CAD files?

ve3nud8 months ago
May I please have copy of CAD files?
Now that looks cool. Good job!!
pullinsb (author)  DividersMaker1 year ago
thank you.
kewrw281 year ago
WOW, you did this with a router???
pullinsb (author)  kewrw281 year ago
yes.
c1e3211 year 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)  c1e3211 year 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.
dkrane1 year ago
Could I please get your cad drawings for this project, thank you.
c1e3211 year ago
Since no one will be able to look into the maze anyway.
This looks awesome! I love these kind of puzzles that make the gift recipient work for the goods.
pitzhr1 year 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 :)
OlManJeb1 year ago
Great instructable. Have you thought of marketing it? I'd be interested in trying my hand at making it.
pullinsb (author)  OlManJeb1 year 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!