Introduction: Hydraulic Craft Stick Box

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Like some kind of magic, the hydraulic box smoothly opens with the press of a syringe. This project is a great way to discuss the power of hydraulics, and create a treasured keepsake that can store small things!

Watch the video, or check out the step-by-step directions.

You can find the lesson plan, 1-page project sheet, and more project ideas at


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Step 1: Create the Sides

The easiest way to create the 6 sides of the box is to first line up a row of 12 craft sticks on a flat surface, then hot glue two more sticks to the ends. This is much faster than gluing the sticks together one-by-one!

Step 2: Assemble the Bottom and 3 Sides

Use craft cubes and hot glue to assemble four of the side pieces as shown. Only create 3 side pieces for now. If you assemble all 4 then it'll be more difficult to make the hinge and install the hydraulic system.

Step 3: Create the Hinge and Lid

To make the hinge, first cut or break a 1/8" dowel to fit the width of the box. Next, thread four cubes with holes onto the dowel piece, then glue the outermost cubes to the inside corners of the box as shown.

Prepare an attachment point for the lid by gluing two regular cubes onto the innermost hinge cubes as shown.

To make the lid, cut away two craft sticks from one of the remaining side pieces. Glue the lid onto the hinge attachment cubes.

Step 4: Create the Hydraulic System

Fill one syringe with water, then attach the tubing.

Next push water through the tubing to remove the air, then refill the syringe with 10ml of water. The syringe and tubing should have little to no air in it.

Attach the other empty syringe to the tubing, then snap on the syringe adapter.

Step 5: Install the Hydraulic System to the Bottom of the Box

Hot glue a cube with holes to the bottom center of the box near the edge.

Then strap the nozzle of the syringe to the cube with a cable tie. Make sure to tie it tightly, but avoid constricting the flow of water through the tubing.

Step 6: Attach the Hydraulics to the Lid

Glue a craft stick onto the lid about 3-stick-widths from the front of the lid, then cable tie the syringe adapter to that stick.

Test it out! If the box doesn't close all the way, then you'll need to attach the syringe closer to the front of the lid.

Step 7: Finish the Box

Glue on the remaining side piece, careful not to pinch the tubing.

Optional: Glue on additional sticks to cover up the gaps at the corners and near the hinge. The box is done!