Introduction: Re-Box With Dial Lock

About: Just an ordinary person who loves #thinking and #tinkering

It is not the powerful brand Reebok neither the big box full of movies and video games, Redbox. Then what is Re-Box? It is an unofficial word I use to describe "redesign/remake a box". Okay, nothing important in that word, just a mix in my head to get a unique/weird title.

So I have a pair of 8" subwoofer boxes from my car audio laying around for years. Now I want to jazz up the Box Contest 2017 and these boxes will be my materials. Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is generally denser than plywood and easier to cut and shape than any hard wood. The term "easier" here depends on the tools you own. If you have complete power tools then it won't be hard to shape any hard wood but if you only have traditional tools like me, using MDF and plywood will save a lot of energy being burnt out.

What box am I making? This idea came when I asked my self : What box? Unique box? Useful box? Safety box? My Cube Puzzle Prototype crossed my mind. Ah.. I need a fresh idea about the lock. Not a safety box, but at least when curious people try to open it and fail, they will leave it. Most people are curious about what is inside the box, seldom about the box itself. I made it just for fun :)

Step 1: Save the Scraps

Dismantling the audio boxes I got enough pieces of wood with good surfaces. Starting from there I pick the size of my box :

  • 2 pieces of 180 mm x 130 mm for base and lid.
  • 2 pieces of 180 mm x 100 mm for the long sides.
  • 2 pieces of 100 mm x 100 mm for the short sides.
  • Another piece for the key, around 100 mm x 150 mm.

Step 2: The Lid

I pick the split lid for my locking system. Prepare two hole saw where one is slightly larger than the other. Here I use 25 mm and 29 mm because my 29 mm hole saw has inner diameter of 26 mm. Here we are going to make a holeat the center of the lid and make a piece of round wood to fit in the hole. Can't we get them with single drill? No, because of the thickness of the hole saw itself the gap between the hole and the round piece will be too large. We need the gap as small as possible (less than a millimeter if possible) to get a sturdy dial.

Draw a line splitting the lid vertically. Drill at the center slowly with a smaller hole saw (25 mm) to get best result. Picture number two was what I got on my test board. I always do a test before applying something I have never done before on my materials to see the result and avoid mistakes.

Draw a "T" shape as in picture #4. Make the bottom of "T" about 5 mm to 10 mm longer than the upper to get exactly one way to open the box in 360 degrees. By the way, it doesn't have to be "T", you can pick any shape you want other than a circle. Asymmetrical form has only one chance to open in 360 degrees dialing. I pick the "T" because it is easy to cut. Another thing to remember is the intersection with the hole should be thinner so that we still have corners to hold the round wood in place.

Next we cut split the lid. Use a thin saw so that we have only a little gap between the lids. Cut out the "T" shape on the lids.

Next we cut a round wood to fit in the hole. I cut a bit larger than the hole then I fitted it in with a file. This small round wood function is to keep the key stay at the center of the lids. Then we cut another "T" shape to fit in the lids.

The last thing to cut is a larger round wood to cover the "T" hole on the lids. Round is simple, you can use square-shape or sun-shape as long as it covers the "T" hole underneath.

Step 3: The Box

Arrange the four sides of the box on top of the bottom piece. Do some filing if necessary. When everything in a perfect shape of a box (or at least you are satisfied with it) then spread your wood glue to join those pieces into one. Clamp and wait to perfectly dried or use nails to strengthen if necessary but be very careful with nails because they can break your board if not handled carefully.

Nice tip from the traditional pro is : blunt the point of the nail by placing the nail on a hard surface with the point facing up, and tapping the sharp end with your hammer. The nail will then cut its way through the wood grain, rather than wedging a pathway. The other way is drilling a small pilot hole before nailing. This drilling also should be done slowly and carefully to avoid the split.

Step 4: The Key

While waiting for the glue to dry, let's get going with the lock. Here we have two lids forming "T" hole and a circle hole in the middle, a "T" shape wood, a small round wood and a large round wood.

  • Drill a 5 mm hole at the center of the large round wood.
  • Drill a 5 mm hole at the center of the small round wood.
  • Get two pieces of thin plywood which have half the thickness of the material we use for our box.
  • Lay them below the lids but not blocking the "T" hole.
  • Put the "T" wood in the "T" hole. It will sink into the hole half way down.
  • Put the small round wood in the circle hole of the lids, on top of the "T".
  • Drill a 5 mm hole on the "T" through the hole on the small round wood.
  • Now we have inline hole on the stack of : "T", small round wood, large round wood.
  • Wait a minute, we need a ring washer between the small round wood and the large round wood. This is important to get the "T" dial properly without getting stuck on the lids.
  • Get a bamboo chopstick. This will perfectly fit in 5 mm hole. Put it in the holes on the stack. You might want to apply some glue on the pieces before putting the chopstick in to join them all.
  • Test dial the lock before you cut the excessing bamboo chopstick.

Step 5: The Hinges

Pick appropriate hinges for your split lids. I was at first thinking of invisible hinges, those hidden inside the wood, but I couldn't find any at local market. I then picked the traditional hinges with appropriate size, two at each lid for sturdy enclosure.

Measure and cut out the wood with a cutter or pen knife to let the hinges lay in. Pick the screws carefully (diameter size and length) and drive them in slowly to get best result and avoid splitting wood. Set your hinges so that the gap between the lids is minimum.

Step 6: Further Builds

Sorry, I am not good in finishing but I will learn and do some filing, sanding, painting, even re-box (read : remake the box) to get a beautiful box. Only that it will take weeks to get it done because I am doing it slowly in my spare time.

What I see forward from this box is : "I will design a frame with six splitted sides and a dial on every side but only one side that can be opened." Anyone? ;)

Box Contest 2017

Participated in the
Box Contest 2017