Introduction: Custom Antique Steel Lock and Wood Box

About: I'm a content creator. I make open source projects and videos for said projects. My goal is to create free and open knowledge for everyone.

My best friend was getting married, and I wanted to make them something special as a gift. My original thought was to make a lock for a big chest, but since I was flying across the country for his wedding I decided to just make a lock.

The idea is that the lock would require two keys to open it. Unfortunately my 1 off prototype became jammed so now its like every other old lock, doesn't unlock. Oh well. You can learn from my mistakes, it will work if you grind everything down appropriately.

The lock is made from laser cut steel, all 1/8" with one piece being 1/4". You can download the dxf files from me and get them made if you want, or copy my design, your choice.

Check out the video.

Step 1: Watch the Video!

Step 2: Decide on a Design

I found a cool "vine" design and mixed it with the letters "A" and "E" to create the top layer of the lock. Do this in your CAD/editing software of choice.

Step 3: Get the Parts!

My design is custom with an A and an E on the top layer for the design. You can use that design if it works for you, or you can make it without the top layer, OR you can design your own top layer.



  • Hammers
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Grinder or Files
  • Drill and Drill Bits

Step 4: Grind Down Some Parts.

The locking latch and the small latches inside the lock need to be thinner so they can move freely after the lock is assembled(don't make the same mistake I did). Grind down the latch and the locking mechanism until there is a small amount of clearance. I used a small belt grinder.

Step 5: Put the Lock Together

Its a simple assembly, layer by layer. Make sure all of the rivets go through the lock body and the laser cut holes are lined up properly.

Step 6: Hammer Out the Rivets

Get your favourite hammer, its able to get a lot of use. I snipped off the end of the rivets with some snips, and then hammered them flat on an anvil. After I used the peen side of the hammer to spread them out a bit. I'm new to this, but it worked really well. Too well.

Step 7: Beat/Peen the Lock

I wanted to give this lock a really worn out and weathered look, like it has proven the test of time. I just went to town beating the lock with the peen side of the hammer. This put little dimples everywhere which will stand out great when you go to chemically age it. Just go for it, not much you can hurt...

Step 8: Clean and Blacken the Steel

I got a kit called "Gun Blue" which is for blackening steel parts, many people use it for blackening guns. Its a two step process that involves cleaning and then blueing. I cleaned it a bit but wasn't overly thorough because I didn't want the whole thing to be black, I wanted an old "worn out" look. Just follow the instructions.

Step 9: Steel Wool the Lock

After the lock has been blackened, immediately begin scrubbing it with steel wool to bring back the metal colour in areas. This will be done to taste, but its really simple and hard to go wrong! Try to leave the black in the hammered dimples you made earlier.

Step 10: Admire Your Work

I'm very happy with the look that came out of this.

Step 11: Spray on Protection

I decided to go with a clear coat for the lock. It will protect from more rust and will seal in everything from the hands of anyone that handles it.

Follow clear coat directions.

Step 12: Destroying a New Box: Beat It With Tools.

I found this box that looked all new and boring, so I hit it with a bunch of tools to make it old.

Hitting tools into the surface makes it look like it has been around the shop for years.

I also hit it with a bit of flame, and scratched it with some files.

Step 13: Stain the Box.

Choose a stain to give it the old wood look. Soak on, rub off.

Step 14: Glue in Wood Into Lid

I added a piece of wood so I would have something to drill into. The plan is to put magnets in the lid to hold the keys. The lid is thin so it needs more wood. You should do this before you stain the box(unlike me, whoops).

Step 15: Drill Holes for Magnets

There will be two keys for this lock, so two holes are to be drilled, don't drill through the top of the lid!

Step 16: Felt the Inside of the Lid.

I'm not expert in this, but felting is not very difficult, and this was my first time doing it. I used spray adhesive, cut the felt to size and stuck it on. The spray adhesive is not fun to get on things.

Don't forget to put the magnets in first!

Step 17: Cut Out Foam for Lock Support

In the bottom, there will be a piece of felt covered foam. Cut the foam to the dimensions of the lock and the inside of the box for a snug fit.

Step 18: Felt the Foam

Again, my first time doing this. What I did was pre cut the felt so it covered all of the areas that would be seen. Then I made sure the lock would press down the felt and have room to sit in the hole.

Spray adhesive both the foam and felt, lay the felt on, then shove in the lock. Wrap around the outside after. Cut off any excess. Remove the lock to let dry a bit, then stick it in the box with the lock to settle. Seemed to work!

Step 19: Blacken Box Hardware

The box came with some shiny hardware(hinges, latch and screws). I decided to stick them in the same "Gun Blue" I used before. Just soaked them in it, then in some water, and magically they look 50 years old.

Step 20: Clear Coat the Box

Now that the box is all finished, I decided to hit it with the same Matte Clear Coat I used for the lock. Its kind of a simple go to for me. Again I can't believed it turned out this well. I'm very pleased with the look.

Assemble the box with the "old" hardware.

Step 21: Put Everything Together

Awesome. Finally Done.

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