Introduction: Laser Cut Wooden Puzzle Box

A few years ago, on my trip to Japan I found saw a little puzzle box I found very interesting so I tried my best to recreate it and share it with you. It’s not very complicated to build but I think the mechanism you need to solve it is a little bit tricky. It took me almost an hour. However, since you are reading this building instruction you can't solve it anymore but you can make your friends or family a very hard time with this one. Or you can even use it as a gift box for some money or whatever.

Supplies

The only things you need are:

  • Laser Cutter
  • Any wood your laser cutter can work with (I used 3.8mm plywood)
  • A little bit of wood glue
  • One 3mm wood screw (about 16mm long)

Step 1: Designing the Boxes

To make my life easy I used the free online tool boxes.py to create the vector path for the boxes.

For this particular puzzle box, we need two separated boxes where one can be placed exactly into the other one. We want the gap between the boxes as small as possible but enough to pull them apart without any friction between the walls.

The wood I got from my local hardware store is a very soft one and the thickness varies a little bit on every sheet but that’s not a big issue for me. If you have another wood which has another thickness or varies less in size you might need to adjust the settings for the boxes.

You can find my settings under the following links:

·        outer box

·        inner box

·        spacing outer box

·        spacing inner box

The pieces for the spacing are needed for the second bottom in the outer box and for the slide on lid in the inner box.

The design you get from boxes.py has by default no slide on lid so I adjusted the vector to make some space for the lid. I used Affinity Designer for this process because it is a very good and cheap alternative to Adobe Illustrator but you can use any software you like. Inkscape will work great as well. Also, I added some additional shapes that are needed for the locking mechanism.

I prepared all the parts for my laser cutter on two A4 sized sheets. You can find the files in some different data formats below (unfortunately the originally .afdesign files from Affinity Designer are not supported to upload here. If you’d like to have them, I can try to upload them somewhere else and share the link here)

Step 2: Assembling the Boxes

One all the parts are cut out the fun part starts. My pieces fit together so strong I almost didn’t need any glue to build the basic boxes. The additional parts as well as the inner spacings have to be glued in place as you can see in the photos.

I assume that the assembly of the boxes and spacing parts doesn’t require any instructions. Once you have finished this its time to reinforce the bottom of the inner box so that the screw will hold well. Therefore, first glue the second bottom in place and on the marked center glue the circular piece in place. There is already a small hole as guideline for the screw. Wait a little bit until the wood glue holds everything in place and then take the rectangular “wiggly piece” with the prepared hole and screw it to the bottom of the small box. It’s important not to screw it together tight! The wiggly piece has to move freely.

The last thing to do is to glue the lid together and place the handle on top of it.

Step 3: Solving the Puzzle

We are finished!

To stack the two boxes together you have to hold them in a 45° angle so that the wiggly piece matches with the free space in the second bottom of the larger box. Once they are together and the wiggly piece moved out of place they are locked together. Notice that the slide on lid of the inner box is blocked by the outer one and can’t be opened unless you know the trick.

Now that Christmas is coming soon, the box can certainly serve as a gift for some money or small notes. Enjoy!

Laser Challenge

Runner Up in the
Laser Challenge