Introduction: Twister - a Vintage Puzzle Box

About: I enjoy building wooden locking systems , ...and recycling/upcycling. It doesn't take long for a passion to become an obsession.

I love wood boxes, always have. There is something magical about boxes, when in someone's home I always wonder, what's in there! Maybe it is from having a younger brother that got into my crap all the time, but learning new ways to keep an ordinary box locked has become a bit a of a passion, kids, they call it an obsession. I find old used boxes all the time, from antiques stores mainly. I feel it a compulsion to breath a new life into an old box, so it can be cherished and handed down for many years.

This vintage box was nice, made from a hardwood that has a decorative inlay on top and a mirror inside. Otherwise this wooden wander has found a new calling. With a little bit of gentle manipulation you can unlock this box every time.

Step 1: The Empty Box

First thing I did was cut and glue in a small lid tab that was about 2" long.

Next I cut and dado'd two 'base' pieces about 5\8" x 1" x 3". These are approximate measurements.

The dados were about 5/16" x 5/16" to allow a 1/4" sled run easily through the dados.

The sled is about 1 3/4" wide x 3" long.

Step 2: The Base

I made a piece of hardwood about 1/2" x 1/2" x 1 1/2" shorter than box is long inside.

Notch the base for the 1/2" x 1/2" rail or 'slider lock' to pass easily through. About mid point is fine.

Nothing has been glued to this point.

Step 3: Left End Slider Lock

Cut a piece of 1" hardwood to about 1 1/2" wide x 2" long.

Mill a slot slightly larger than 1/4" wide by 1 1/4" deep through the center of one edge.

Notch out a 1/2" x 1/2" slot through the bottom edge of the slider lock. The slider lock should pass easily through the notch.

Next, cut a piece of 1/4" x 1 3/16" x 2" as the slider lock key.

Mark where the notch is when the slider lock key is all the way to the front. Cut out on bandsaw.

Use a spring clamp to hold the slider lock in dry fit place.

When you test, the slide rail should move past the slide lock key when it is all the way to the front.

This lock prevents the slider rail from moving unless the box has been tipped on its face side first.

Step 4: Right Side Slide Rail Lock or Guillotine Lock

Using a couple piece of hardwood that had a dado through it, I used a couple of pieces that measured about 1 1/2" long. I cut a small thin piece to travel within the dados of the Guillotine uprights.

Next, glue on a top cap to the Guillotine uprights.

Step 5: Slide Rail Pin Placement

Pick a point on the right end of the slider rail and dill and glue in a small 3/16" wood dowel, leaving it proud of the surface about 3/16".

Add glue to the bottom ends of the Guillotine Lock and glue into place to the left of the pin when the slider rail is all the way to the right.

This will prevent the slider rail from moving unless the box is upside down first.

Step 6: The Lock Tongue

The sled has a mark indicating where the pin would be drilled on the underside of the sled so that the pin hanging down prevents the lock tongue from movement.

A notch must be cut into the slider rail at the point where when the slider lock is slid all the way to the left (beyond the left side lock) so that the lock tongue can move to the rear and unlock the box.

Carefully calculate the internal height form the top of the base to the underside of the lid. Make the Lock Tongue about 1/32" shorter than that. You can make it whatever shape you want so long as the Lock Tongue and the lid tab work correctly together. In other words, when locked and you pull up on the lid, it should have only a paper thickness gap between the lid and base of the box.

Once you think you got it, glue it all down.

Test it on someone with patience, and no history of violence. ; )

Step 7: Solution:

Step 1: Roll the box onto its face, brief pause.

Step 2: Continue to roll the box, now onto the lid side, brief pause.

Step 3: Roll the box onto the left side, brief pause.

Step 4: Roll the box back onto its feet from the last position, brief pause.

Step 5: Roll the box onto its back edge, brief pause.

Step 6: Roll the box back onto its feet one last time. You should hear the Lock Tongue retreating to unlocked position.

Step 7: The lid should open now, if not, repeat steps.