Introduction: Oversized Music Chest, for MaKey MaKey

This is an Oversized Music Chest, for MaKey MaKey.

For more projects and a summary follow up from our January build night, please see this thread!


This is an oversized chest to house a MaKey MaKey, wires, parts, supplies, and small tools. The chest itself can also be a kind of meta MaKey MaKey project as we show in our examples. Our examples can be edited easily in Inkscape for laser cutting or other mediums.


MaKey MaKey is an awesome little electronic inventor's kit put out by Joylabz with a goal of realizing that everyone is an inventor. You may have seen the infamous banana pianos around featuring the MaKey MaKey.

January at Instructables means MaKey MaKey Build Nights for Makerspaces/Hackerspaces/etc. Knox Makers is participating in the fun, and this is an early project just to get some creative juices flowing and drum up local support for our quirky Build Night events.

MaKey MaKey uses a USB connection to emulate keyboard/mouse with simple connections through even slightly conductive materials. Basic wire or alligator clips are enough to complete a circuit through anything like a banana, human hands, water, foil, nature, and a whole slew of things. Part of the fun is the simplicity and versatility. You can read more here:

To make your own, you will first need to determine a few things.

  1. Will you be using a laser cutter? If not, what tools will you use?

  2. Do you want your enclosure box to be able to plug into the MaKey and have integrated buttons?

  3. Do you want text and graphics on the box, or do you just want to have a plain enclosure box?

  4. What materials will you use?

Quick info: This design uses the Tabbed Box plugin for Inkscape and Hershey Text for Inkscape. The .SVG included here is color coded and set up for our laser cutter. We made this box with our Makerspace's website, the name of one of our Build Night events, and the date/time where the date/time are custom buttons to control music. This project focuses on hooking up the MaKey MaKey to custom buttons and assumes a familiarity with Inkscape for laser cutters or similar (or a willingness to pursue other instruction to these ends).

This is a promotional project for our event, but feel free to adapt the design for your own Build Night and other events or however you see fit.


  • 1 MaKey MaKey kit
  • Box material (we used 3mm wood)
  • Extra solid core wire
  • Aluminum foil (or your choice of conductive material)
  • Electrical tape
  • Glue sticks for hot glue gun


  • Laser Cutter (if using a laser cutter)
  • CNC Router (if using a router)
  • Inkscape or SVG editing software to customize our design
  • Various hand tools/power tools depending on methods other than laser cutting or CNC routing
  • Cordless drill with 1/8" drill bit
  • Hot glue gun
  • Computer or laptop to plug in the MaKey MaKey USB

EXTRA FUN: or a similar music program that lets one control music on a computer with a keyboard.

EDIT: Featured in "Electronics!" Thanks for all the support and to Instructables editors for checking us out!

Step 1: Laser Cutter, or Other?

  • This was originally designed for a laser cutter to cut 3mm wood. If you will be using a laser cutter, you may need to alter the tab specs to match the thickness of your material. You also may need to adjust the colors for your laser cutter.
  • If you would like, you can easily print out the designs to manually cut the box out of a sturdy material like wood.
  • You can also print out the designs to paste onto cardboard or an existing box that is similar to the dimensions of the box (8" X 4" X 4").

You can find the two .SVG files we created here and alter them at your whim, either for laser cutting, print, or other purposes.

Step 2: Enclosure Box Inception..

We used buttons just to be silly and meta. If you want to use buttons, try editing the .SVG file for the lid (the long tabbed side with text). For buttons, we simply cut out the "1/3" and "4PM" shown in the image. Then:

  1. We stripped 2" off of the end of several pieces of wire (six wires, in our case).
  2. We then tightly wrapped the wire around each number, letter, or character that we wanted to use as buttons later. We did this so that the cut out shape would have the wire on the underside of the lid.
  3. Next, we wrapped each character in foil. Not a stellar job here, but you get the idea and are probably much better at this than we were.
  4. Then, we slipped the cut out characters back into their holes with the wires going down into the box. Due to the little bit of wire and foil, this made for a tighter fit than when the characters were first cut out of the design.
  5. Next, we used hot glue on the underside of the lid to secure the cut outs back into place, just to make sure. Careful with spillage through holes here (see the "4" and "P" in image to get an idea of why).
  6. Finally, we wired each cut out to the MaKey MaKey corresponding to the W, A, S, D, F & G keys.

For ground, we drilled through the side and put a tab of aluminum foil connected to a wire leading to ground on the MaKey.

To use the foil buttons once the chest is assembled, plug in the MaKey and have users hold the side foil tab with their thumb and then hit the foil character with other fingers.

We used characters that were easy to wrap wire around. You might have or even need a better solution for your purposes, especially depending on what your buttons look like. Don't feel limited to aluminum foil, either. This is just our playful example.

Whether you want to change the buttons or remove the buttons entirely and just want a plain enclosure box, you will need to edit the first .SVG image and delete the text from our design.

Step 3: Decorations? Materials?

If you want to use a laser cutter or CNC machine to create decorations like we did with our Makerspace's logo, just edit the files and go wild. Please do feel free to delete our graphics and add your own.

You can also try a latticed box, a plain box that is later painted, or whatever floats your MaKey Wheats.

There may be different steps depending on materials and tools, but we're continuing here assuming you will be using a laser cutter, can use Inkscape, and can make your laser cutter whir about when you feed it .SVG files.

If you need help with this or other steps or have suggestions for an edit, please comment and we'll do what we can.

FYI, there are a lot of great Inkscape tutorials out there and this Instructable does not focus so much on showing any design principles since there's a whole universe of ways you could customize this Oversized Music Chest. An exhaustive guide would dwarf the scope of this project, but if there are requests we can look at including some better steps for this part.

The materials you decide to go with may impact how you need to edit the .SVG files. We set ours up for a tabbed box that works with 3mm wood.

We used hot glue to seal up the bottom side and four walls after fitting them tightly together.

Step 4: Test It!

Before you finish up, make sure the MaKey works and any buttons do what they are supposed to. We tied up exposed wire with electrical tape. We also left the lid loose and did not glue it down so that we can take the MaKey out as we please.

Maybe place the MaKey inside to make sure it fits? This is a huge box, you shouldn't have any problems with any of this unless you resized the box design to be much smaller. Too much space might be a problem with our design, but we solved that by throwing in a bunch of spare wire, mini tools, materials, snacks, and a calculator.

Out of the box, the back keyboard header pins W, A, S, D, F, & G work great with many instruments here:

Almost done..

Did you make it? Post an "I made it!" pic! We would love to see any variations and improvements.

Crude, huge, but it works for us, was fun, and had our locals excited about an upcoming Build Night.

Best wishes! Comment with feedback or for help!

Step 5: Lessons Learned..

  1. Foil can be rubbed off pretty easily if you get any hardcore rock musicians jamming out on your music chest.
  2. Stranded wire breaks very easily and is a pain to troubleshoot when everything has gobs of dried glue covering it up.
  3. The lid could use a hinge or maybe a handle. Also, the wood we used had a slight warp to it, plus we kind of eyeballed glueing the bottom and walls together. The end result after all that is a tight fit for the lid. It comes off easy enough if you pry it, but it can take a little wiggling to snap it into place.