Picture of maze puzzle box
This is a puzzle box. To open it you need to perform a certain gesture and press a button. The gesture is defined by the shape of an internal ball bearing maze. You can easily create your own maze and plans using the website www.mazepuzzlebox.co.uk. The design is parametric, making it easy to make with materials of differing thickness.

Someone who doesn't know how to open it will struggle for a long time, especially if you give them no clues. Once you've learnt the gesture, you can open the box in a couple of seconds. My uncle (who is a maker working at a museum) took 24 hours to open it, with a team of interested buddies, an xray machine, a metal detector and large magnets!

Many thanks to London Hackspace, and everyone who has helped me out with learning how to use the laser cutter! Thanks Lou for the good photos! This design has taught me a lot about using the laser cutter, parametric design and designing for CNC. This is about the 12th version, so it's pretty reliable by now. I hope the instructions are good enough!

Tools and Materials
Tools: a laser cutter, a CAD program
Materials: a sheet of 4mm ply, PVA glue, a small rare earth magnet, 2 x 25x4mm springs (you can get them from pens), a 4mm ball bearing and 2 x 10mm of 4mm metal rod (I use brass).

1-40 of 91Next »
Schaapje825 months ago

I tried to make this, but failed. Since the linked site gave the option to use other dimensions than 4mm, I used 3mm. But apparently it doesn't adjust everything well. The hinges won't fit, the lock won't fit, the springs from pens won't fit. Very disappointed.

If you want to make this, I suggest using 4mm and not any other dimensions.

managerajami5 months ago


please send me this pattern, i can not download it. i can not become a pro either. PLEASE... TNX

managerajami5 months ago

oh God, :(

someone help me. i can not be a pro member. i live in iran. i need this pattern. what can i do? HELP PLEASE.

lbresler made it!7 months ago

I had a lot of fun making this. Even made a little video about it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URM8LZDHit4). My next one I want to make out of perspex and make the maze 3D instead of 2D.

nxydes1 year ago
I had to make an account to thank you for this! I made one for a xmas present. It came out really well with what was labeled as 1/4" plywood but was actually 5mm and 4.5mm bbs.

However, one suggestion to all. I was sanding the sides of the device with a handheld sander and I ended up getting tons of sawdust into the mecanism. Now it tends to stick pretty often. I highly suggest you sand with that edge of the box vertical or else it will fall in and gunk up the mechanism.

Thanks again!
matthewvenn (author)  nxydes1 year ago
Amazing! Please send me a picture(s) so I can put it on the website! My email is matt at mattvenn dot net.

Good tip on the sanding. I always sand horizontal because I use a bench mounted disk sander. Will add it to the instructable.
Hey i need to ask you a q My email is Hess1113@gmail.com
mmdcc2 years ago
I am planning to build a box by hand as I don't have access to a laser cutter. Ive downloaded the plans however I am experiencing the same problems as kholts, the hinges and maze designs are not there. I am using NX CAD 7.5 to open the dxf file. I am planning to print out the designs and stick them to the wood to help cut out. Another problem is trying to find a suitable way to scale up the images to the correct size.

Matthewvenn, would you be able to help me out?
link to maze: http://mazepuzzlebox.co.uk/2312
wood thickness 5.5mm
Email: davidcole293@gmail.com

Many Thanks!
kholtz2 years ago
Thank you!!! http://mazepuzzlebox.co.uk/2178 will be good with a thickness of 6.35mm

Thanks again, this is pretty sweet
kholtz2 years ago
Yes - i've tried qcad on mac osx and windows 7 but it didn't work =(
matthewvenn (author)  kholtz2 years ago
oh well. send me a link to the maze and tell me the thickness of material you want and I'll send you a dxf.
kholtz2 years ago

I'm having some huge problems getting the file to properly download from the mazepuzzlebox.co.uk site. The hinges and maze both don't show up. Does anyone have any suggestions or can download and email it to me?

Thank you!
matthewvenn (author)  kholtz2 years ago
have you tried qcad? It seems to be the only cad file that can open the files.
AnJo8882 years ago
Really beautifull.
To add some difficulty to the puzzle I would put some soft material (suede-paper or felt) in the inner walls of the maze, so the ball could run without any noise. ;)
matthewvenn (author)  AnJo8882 years ago
thanks for the comment!
Sometimes I put ball bearings in the space so it confuses the sound. But it's already really hard for someone who doesn't know what's inside!
Hi, I can't get the file from the website correctly, I have qcad but the maze and hinges etc, like someone posted before, are missing, any ideas? Thanks! /Anders
matthewvenn (author)  Anders7309172 years ago
weird, what platform are you running qcad on? I've not had any problems with it myself. Otherwise, what ID is your puzzle and I'll download it and send it to you.
Hi!, I'm using Mac, Mountain Lion.. the #175 would be ok!
matthewvenn (author)  Anders7309172 years ago
forgot to say what thickness is your material?
Hi, I'm working with 3mm acrylic
matthewvenn (author)  Anders7309172 years ago
email address?
andershjorth@gmail.com thanks!
matthewvenn (author) 3 years ago
yep, you solve the maze, open the box, close the box and solve the maze in reverse to lock.
That makes sense. I'm going to try making one of these. Some sort of return mechanism to save the whole reverse trip would be good. Hmmm, lemme think about it.
matthewvenn (author)  sludgemonster3 years ago
I think it would be straightforward enough. I think a "one way valve" is what's required, which could be done with another magnet perhaps?

Keep me posted!
One thing that's confusing me is how you get the ball bearing back to the magnet. Do you just have to "undo" the maze once you've opened it?
I downloaded your box maze DXF files to make one on my cnc router. Obviously the files will need adjusted. But I ran into the problem that the file was missing lines. Specifically the hinges, catch, and maze lines were missing. Granted it could be the CAD programs I used. I tried at first with Vcarvepro V5.5 which supports DXF, and then I tried with a copy of TurboCad Mac Pro V3. That wouldn't even import the file at all ( and it should.) although it's a very buggy piece of software.

Anyhow, I can obviously put in the line work manually on my own. Just thought I would ask first in case I am missing something obvious. Great box. Love it!

p.s. I tried downloading multiple box files from multiple browsers (e.g. Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) both on PC and Mac.
matthewvenn (author)  pastprimitive3 years ago

I take it you made and downloaded the dxf from the website: mazepuzzlebox.co.uk ?

I'm afraid that the DXF files are very buggy, they only seem to reliably open with qcad. So I'd suggest installing this and then opening and saving the file. Once it's saved with qcad you might be able to open it with your other programs.

If you don't want to or it doesn't work, send me the link to your box and I'll open, save and send it to you!

I've learnt to loathe the DXF format! I'll be converting it all to SVG in the future and let people convert the file themselves.

mymridon3 years ago
Does anyone have a CorelDraw file of this they'd be willing to give me? Or maybe tips on how to use these CAD plans for a Epilog?
matthewvenn (author)  mymridon3 years ago
sorry, I missed this comment. Have you tried importing the dxf file into corel draw? What happens?

I have, a small error window appears and says "Unrecoverable Error" I have tried closing CorelDraw and restarting my computer and trying different box plans such as 167 and 175 which are suggested on the site.
matthewvenn (author)  mymridon3 years ago
can you try this one? I opened and saved it in qcad.
cwice3 years ago
Great stuff.
tlandis3 years ago
I am curious how to get the dxf files as I would like to try this out and make modifications. (Are you selling the plans, or did I simply miss a link???)

I use CorelDraw to make other boxes, but I find your design very unique.

Keep of the great work!
matthewvenn (author)  tlandis3 years ago
You missed the link! go to mazepuzzlebox.co.uk, design a maze and then download the DXF.


Wish I could make this... too bad I don't a cutter precise enough...
matthewvenn (author)  mashedpotato134 years ago
if you've got a bit of money I can cut your pieces for you, see mazepuzzlebox.co.uk for info.

sdbersey4 years ago
By laser cutter do you mean a guided saw?
matthewvenn (author)  sdbersey4 years ago
no, a computer controlled machine that uses a powerful laser to cut through various materials. If you don't have one, you can still design a box and then I'll cut the pieces and send them to you. Check the details on the website mazepuzzlebox.co.uk!

megamoonman4 years ago
Got mine built using a scroll saw. Even with the improved instructions I couldn't get the python script to work - I kept getting a syntax error. I gave up on it and with with the scaled-up 4mm plans.

It worked out fine. All the parts fit correctly (with a bit of sanding) and it works well. I used a regular BB and regular pen springs for hardware.

Thanks for the plans! I'm currently working on staining it and I'm planning to line the inside with felt (mostly to cover some imperfections I couldn't sand out).
1-40 of 91Next »