Introduction: Interactive Scene Music Box

This interactive scene music box is meant to play a variety of songs and also allow for people to create different scenes across the top of the box. I created it to be calming to those that use it. Hopefully, it can help those with anxiety that use music to calm their nerves. I would also think kids would like a music box like this, where they can play different songs but also play with the different figures.

Materials for box: Foamcore, plywood (.2 inch), wood stain, wood glue, screws (3, size :M3-.50 x 12, #127109), water, paper towels,

hand crank music box movement, music tape, appropriate hole puncher,

Materials for bag for figures: fabric, thread,

images from the internet that you can work with in InkScape (files like JPEG, PNG, etc) to create your scenes and figures

where to get music box movement, music tape, and hole puncher: be sure to hole punch a song to ensure the music box movement works correctly and you understand what to do.

Tools: Laser cutter, wood clamps, sandpaper, screwdriver, (maybe: drill and appropriate drill bit- depending on screw) sewing machine, musicboxmaniacs website for basis for songs

Programs: Inkscape (to edit and shape designs), MakerCase (to make the open box), a program that communicates with a laser cutter

Step 1: Design the Base of the Box

Consider how big you want your box. My box is:8.625 in long (depth for MakerCase) by 5.875 in wide by 2.5in tall.

I used MakerCase to make an open box approximately that size, with finger joints.

I wanted it to be able to contain the music tapes and also be able to support the figures used to create scenes.

Note that you will have to put the music box movement in a corner of the box . Whichever corner you choose, a hole will need to be made at the appropriate height for the hand crank to go through. A slot will need to be made on the front and back of the box to ensure the music tape can enter and exit the sheet. When considering the rectangular slot placement, you need to know how far up it should be (so it is in line with the music box movement) and how far from the side the slot should be (to ensure there is enough space for the hand crank and rest of the movement). The circular hole for the hand crank must be able to fit the width of the end of the handle. Before laser cutting into 0.2 inch Plywood, make sure to work in foamcore. This will ensure your measurements are correct.

You should have 5 pieces and 3 holes. There are 4 sides, a base, 2 slots (for the music tape), and 1 hole (for the hand crank). Use wood glue to combine pieces accordingly. Sand the wood edges with some sandpaper to get the black off, which was caused from the laser cutter.

Slot sizing: .25in tall x 1.875 in long. About .8125 in from base (if measured from top height of box) and .8125 in from short side corner

hole for hand crank sizing: .375 by .375 in. Base of hole about 10/16 or .625 in from base and about .875 in from corner

Step 2: Make the Lid

At first, I had considered a hinged lid. However, .2 inch thick wood is rather thin. You would risk your screws going out the other side of the wood. To address this, a made a lid that could fit on top. Using MakerCase, I made the lid just big enough to fit on top of the created box. What I had to do was make another open box- but with flat joints. I needed flat joints for the lid because there would have been too many finger joints.

In the laser cutter program, two rectangular holes/ slots were edited into the lid, at opposite sides. These were made for the wooden figures/ scenes to go into. Make sure the size of the hole is wide enough to accommodate the plywood (about .24 inch) and long enough to fit a supportive piece of the figure into. Make sure that one of the holes is far enough away from the side that it would not get in the way of the music tape when playing the music box.

This includes 5 pieces: 4 sides and 1 top

No matter how hard I tried, I could not make my measurements perfect. While some of the issue was due to some warped wood, some of it was that when I tried to change the measurement for 1 dimension, another part would change. The key is not to worry too much. What I did is use 2 of the long sides and 1 short side. After attaching those with wood glue and letting set over night with clamps, I sanded down the excess long edges and the black away. Now, my lid can be placed or slid onto the box to close it.

lid dimensions: about 13/16 in or .8125 in, W=6.3125in, L=9.125 in

lid slots: .26 in wide by 1.125in length. Make sure lid slot for figures near music tape path will not get in the way of the music tape

Step 3: Clean Your Box

Using water and paper towels, I cleaned off the sawdust and any extra grit to the best of my ability. I let this dry overnight. You want to make sure to clean the wood before staining it and that it has dried.

Step 4: Stain the Wood- Part 1

You can never be quite sure how the stain is going to color on the wood you are working with. Using a rag, I applied a mahogany stain color to all of the outside of my box (you can purchase stains at Lowe's or Home Depot. Often, there will be a display representing how the stain should color a certain shade of unstained wood). Use whatever stain color you prefer. It is recommended to use gloves to not stain your hands. Also be wary about the clothes you wear during this process.

I let the stained wood set overnight indoors, at a consistent temperature.

Step 5: Stain the Wood- Part 2

I added another two coats the next night. I still had extra stain, so I blobbed on a thick path on the lid. My entire stain process is not uniform at all You can definitely see variations in color. This is what I wanted. This is not for all.

To get a sort of stain formation on the lid (everyone's will look different), I tilted the lid to have the stain run in certain directions. I really wanted to add the contrast in color, texture, and design. Let the stain set.

Step 6: Screw in Your Music Box Movement

I could only find flat, blunt screws. I had to use a drill to make a path for the screws to go into. From there I could then screw in the music box movement with 3 screws, using a screwdriver. Make sure the music box stays close to the base, as raising it can cause the hand crank to rub against the hole or the slots to not align for the music tape.

I chose to add the music box movement after staining to avoid the potential of stain getting onto the music box movement and potentially damaging it.

Step 7: Create Your Figures for Scenes

I wanted you to be able to listen to music but also add to the top. The slots in the lid are for figures to go into the top. These figures can make different scenes. Due to limited resources and time, I only made 5 figures, but you could make several more. I decided to make a deer, pine trees, wolf, lighthouse, and cougar. One at a time, I would edit each stencil in Inkscape. This includes editing document properties to work in units the laser cutter understands, doing bitmap trace, editing fill, etc. Some of my stencils would be black in color. The laser cutter needs to read the outline, so the image needs to be edited so that the laser cutter only reads black lines (which is the path the laser cutter would take).

Make sure to add a rectangular piece that is smaller than the length of the holes in the lid and touches the bottom of the music box. From there, stretch that box to the bitmap traced image. Use union to combine the two shapes. The file can than be sent to the laser cutter. Remember to work on foamcore first and then laser cut on wood.

Keep the designs simple and look out for small details. The laser cutter cannot always work with small detail, so you may need to delete some of the smaller details in Inkscape.

I did not stain my figures.

Step 8: Create Songs... and Do Your Research

Do not make the same mistake I did. You can tell which was the first song of the 5 songs I created and which is the last one. I dove in on the hole punching thinking, "This is straightforward." My earlier songs do not sound as good as I hole punched them at the speed the computer sample had them going. The sample sounds good, but your hand generally does not spin the hand crank quickly enough to match the sound of the computer. For a 15 note music box movement, songs around 90 beats per minute are ideal. If you want to go for a faster pace, be prepared to edit the music. I took one of the songs from about 32 measures on the computer to 14 measures on the music tape. When the computer played it, the song sounded too fast. It sounds right, maybe even still a little slow, when the song is hand cranked.

Create whichever songs you wish, from classical to more fun themed ones.

This site is key:

Just clone the songs, and edit the clones. I recommend using pencil or pen to mark where you should hole punch before actually hole punching the notes. It is pretty messy, as a side note. Perhaps hole punching over something, like a box, to catch the paper will help?

Note when hand cranking, spin clockwise. Never pull the tape out or try to reverse unless you want to risk damaging the music box movement.

Step 9: Make a Bag for the Figures/ Scenes

Using a fabric of your choosing, place all the figures on top of it. From there, eye how much fabric you need to make a bag to contain your figures. I folded the fabric over so that when I cut, I was cutting the equivalent of all the fabric needed. I had the fabric inside out and pinned the halves together. Making sure the needle was threaded and that the bobbin was right, I put the foot down on the sewing machine to secure the fabric. From there, step on the pedal to go forward a bit. I then reversed it back by holding down the side lever. Then I went forward again. When approaching a corner of the fabric, I used a knob to place the needle down, lifted the foot, spun the fabric, and continued sewing. To finish the stich, I just reversed again and then cut the thread. It would be ideal to have a drawstring or ribbon for this. I did not have one, so it is just a simple, open fabric bag.

The fabric colors I most thought of were a sparkly black, a red (as pictured), or a velvety, deep green.

Step 10: Continue to Add (optional)

I did 5 songs and 5 figures. I could make more with the proper materials. I definitely want to make more songs. If I do make more figures, there could be more scenes possible on the top of the box.

I also would like to add a wood piece that guides the music tape to the exit slot.

I have added indicators, like an "Insert Here" for the music tape and an arrow to direct a user which way to spin the hand crank.