Introduction: Laser Cut Music Box for Custom Composition

Music classes at my school created custom compositions. As a way to celebrate and remember, music boxes were purchased and students provided with punchers and paper strips readable by the music box. Students punched out their custom melodies and a flip-top box was created to hold the music box. It can be personalized for each student.

A downloadable .svg file of the box is available below. It is sized for 1/8" material. Our boxes were made of birch plywood. The file was a modification of a box created at Box Designer, a fabulous website for creating and downloading files for boxes. It is a very useful resource for a makerspace.

Use these instructions to assemble your music box for your custom melody. There are many ways you could assemble the box, but through trial and error, think this process works best and avoids most of the problems that can occur.


Your list of materials:

1) Laser-cut wooden pieces for your music box. There are 6 pieces and each is unique. Below is a downloadable .svg file.

2) Glue (Wood glue or white school glue works best)

3) Masking Tape

4) Music Player Kit

5) 3 Screws (included with music player)

6) Phillips head screw driver, small

7) Cardboard base to build on

8) Wax paper piece for gluing surface

Optional: Sandpaper

Optional: Fast Orange Cleaner, best product ever for cleaning up wood burn on laser cuts

Step 1: Organize Your Wood Pieces

Place all 6 of your pieces as shown in the first photo. Place them all with the "right" side up as in the first photo. This is the side that faced the laser and you'll notice burning at the cuts. All of these sides will form the outside of your box. The second photo shows the flip side of the pieces (the "wrong" side). They will all face the inside of your box.

NOTE: If you want to clean your wood cuts of the laser residue before, during or after the build, Fast Orange is a terrific, non-toxic product for makerspaces. I think it's amazing.

Step 2: Screw Your Music Mechanism Down

In the makerspace, this is the most challenging part of the box assembly. There are several reasons for this. We wanted to use the screws provided with the kits. However, they are are longer than they need to be and are machine screws, not wood screws. The holes for the screws are tight by design and are placed so that they are exact. While not ideal, it is an acceptable solution.

The two issues students have is that the hole is tight and when they try to drive the screw, the screw turns, but doesn't enter the hole, resulting in the music box rising up because it is threaded inside.

The correction for this:

1) Drive the screw so it is aligned with the bottom of the music box, then place it over the hole in the base.

2) Hold down the music box and use force to press down as the screw is turned. This will hold down the box and simultaneously put the screw into the wood.

The screw is longer than needed, so much of it will still be apparent once the screw is sufficiently in. A few turns is all it takes.

Step 3: Glue Together the Front, Back and Left Side of Your Box.

The first three pieces to be glued are the front, right side and back of the box.

Put glue (don't over do it) on the tabs of the parts to be glued and press the pieces together. Remove excess glue.

Masking tape helps secure the pieces while they dry.

Step 4: Add the Base of the Box

Glue the 3 sides to the box base. Again, put blue on the tabs and secure with masking tape. Don't forget to remove excess glue.

Step 5: Glue on the Right Side While Attaching the Lid

Step 6: Decorate or Customize

Party Challenge

Participated in the
Party Challenge