Introduction: How to Make a Puzzle Box. "Hell Box"

About: Father of 3, hobby enthusiast,

My wife had to have surgery and would be in the hospital for 4 days. I needed to get her a gift. But she would have to work for it. So I created a puzzle box, or I prefer "Hell Box" because its hell getting into. My idea was that I could give her a box with a lock on it, but the only way to unlock the lock was to complete the puzzles on each side of the box.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought $100 worth of candies, snacks, magazines and other stuff to keep her busy while in the hospital and put it all in the box. I gave her the "gift" 3 days before she had to go to the hospital,.

Step 1: Make the Box

Putting all the goodies together in a pile, I figured I needed a 14" x 14" box to fit it all in. So I cut 8 1x6's to about 15" and fastened them to 2x4's (1st picture). After putting the box together I noticed I had to readjust the placement of the 2x4's otherwise the box would of had gaps in it (2nd picture). So a few adjustments later I was happy with the sturdyness of the box (3rd picture). After all, I didn't want her to cheat and open the box by using common tools. I used plenty of 2 1/2" hex deck screws to screw the box together knowing I had the only set of hex drill bits in the garage where she couldn't find them. If I used Phillips screws she could just unscrewed those and cheated.

I also used plenty of screws I drilled into the 2x4's from inside the box. Even if she found my set of hex screwdriver bits she still couldn't get it open.

Step 2: Create the Puzzels. 1 of 4

Knowing I would wrap a chain around the box and lock it with a combo lock the combo would have to be the prize for completing the puzzles. I told her she is allowed to pull, push, pry.., ect on the box. I also told her I created the box so she does not have to pick it up because it was heavy. Confident of my box building skills, I knew she could never break it open without destroying what was inside it. I was even nice enough to give her one of the combo (31). I know, I am a nice guy. So, pulling on the number 1 (which was noticibly nailed with a finishing nail and easley removable, different the the number 3 that was screwed in by a hex screw) she got her first clue. A magnet stuck to the other side. Notice the offset placement of the number 31. I purposefully bought a combo lock that had 2 of the numbers interchangable. IE: 31 and 13. It took her awhile, but by removing the number 1 she could place it on the other side of the number 3 where a hidden magnet glued to the inside of the box would make the number 1 stick. She had her 2nd number (13).

Step 3: Puzzel 2 of 4

Once she had the magnet she knew how to get the next puzzle complete. I placed a Phillips head screwdriver bit behind plexiglass. I created a maze to pull the bit thru using the magnet. Once she reached the end of the maze the bit fell out.

Some spots on the maze were just barely wide enough to pull the bit thru. Each failed attempt made the bit fall into a dead area that was hard to get out. I wished I used thicker plexiglass because if there was going to be a time to cheat she could of just broke the too thin plexiglass and gotten the bit out. But, thankfully she's a good sport and just swore at me each time the bit fell into the dead area.

Step 4: Bonus Puzzle

Once she had the Phillips head drill bit she had to find the screwdriver that had no bit. I drilled out one of the 2x4's and slipped in the screwdriver. Then I created a fake cap for it so she could twist the cap to reveal the screwdriver. I did the same on all legs so it didn't seem too obvious. But I did tell her I build every part of the box for a reason. Since this looked odd, she started playing with it. After discovering this, she put the bit in the screwdriver and headed to the next puzzle.

Step 5: Puzzle 3 of 4

Once she had the screwdriver with the Phillips bit attached, she knew to start unscrewing the screws that had a Phillips head on it. Just behind the plywood was a 1" hidden hollow area where the screws could hold more clues. I first created this puzzle by creating a "valley" so that way when she started to unscrew the dozens of Phillip head screws the prize would fall and go thru the "valley" and fall out. I should of had a steaper valley. Because one of the Phillips headed screws was holding a square bit. When she eventually unscrewed that particular Phillips headed screw the square bit should of just rolled out but instead it got caught. My mistake. I had to help her with that.

You don't see it in the picture but the very center screw was a square headed screw. It was the only screw of that type. So she replaced the Phillips bit with the square bit and unscrewed the square headed screw and a key fell out.

PS. I used many different lengths of screws for this part. Some were easy and fast to remove. Others were tight, long and difficult to remove causing her carpal tunnel to flair up. Totally worth it.

Step 6: Final Puzzle.

The key was obviously for the gun lock that I attached to the box like in the picture. Once she pulled the lock off she could see I wrote the last number on it. 26. Now she had 3 sets of numbers. 31,13,26 that was the combo to the pad lock holding the chain in place. After getting the sequence correct she got it open.

Step 7: The End

It did take her 2 days and a tad bit of my help but I'm certain she could of gotten it open by herself if she had more time. I had a lot of fun building the box. I was grinning and laughing at her frustrations because I knew she would appreciate it once it was open. I'm sure there is better puzzles to create and I've been thinking about a "Hell Box 2".

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