Chinese Secret Box




Introduction: Chinese Secret Box

This little box is really cool, because although fairly simple to make, it has a secret - nobody can find the opening! With the sliding tray obscured, it looks like it has no opening, and is sure to baffle almost anyone. This is a really fun gift, and perfect for stashing little trinkets in!


  • Basswood any other wood of similar dimensions will also work jelatong, balsa or plywood.


  • Razor saw – Exacto make good ones available from hobby stores. I used Exacto 239
  • Wood glue
  • Sand paper
  • Ruler – I use a stainless-steel engineers ruler. Available at hardware and engineering supply stores.
  • Clamps – small bar clamps work well
  • Square to clamp against – I used a piece of off cut aluminium
  • Artist brush – stiff for glue. Gluing needs to be accurate!

Step 1: Cutting Your Pieces

Ensure that all cutting is accurate, as this will influence the precision of the final box.

Outer box

Top and bottom - 2 pieces 76mm x 100mm, 4mm thick

Sides - 2 pieces 22mm x 100mm, 4 mm thick

Ends - 2 pieces 22mm x 72 mm, 4mm thick

Inner drawer

Bottom - 1 piece 87 mm x 70mm, 4 mm thick

Sides - 2 pieces 87mm x 19mm, 4 mm thick

End - 1 piece 66mm x 19mm, 4mm thick

Inner bracing - 4 pieces 20mm x 9mm, 4mm thick


Top and bottom - Four pieces 82mm x 9mm, 5mm thick

Sides - Four pieces 28mm x 9mm, 4 mm thick

Step 2: Preparing the Pieces

Sand the wood pieces to get them smooth and ensure that the sizes are identical for the pairs

Take the two pieces 76mm x 100mm and mark a line 25mm in from either edge. Using the razor saw cut a groove 1mm or so deep. Place the two pieces with the grooves facing up. Clamp together and using the razor saw cut from the end and along the line of one groove 25mm. Then from the side cut to meet that. The two cut-out pieces you will use later.

Step 3: Assembling the Outer Box

Glue the sides onto the top and bottom making sure that they are square. This is when I used the aluminium square, as the wood glue does not stick to it so well, making it easy to remove the pieces once the glue is dry.

Glue the top and bottom together and one of the end pieces in. When gluing the top and bottom together, ensure that the cut out sections are on opposite sides of the same opening - so one on the left, and one on the right, of the same open side.

Step 4: Assembling the Inner Box/sliding Tray

Glue the sides to the bracing pieces and the end piece to the bracing pieces where they join.

Glue the other two bracing pieces to the sides and the bottom at the other end.

Glue the other end piece that fits the outer box to the inner drawer open end – ensure that it lines up with the bottom part of the drawer. At this point check that the inner drawer slides easily into the outer box. Sand the inner drawer to ensure that it does.

Step 5: Adding the Secret Panels

Glue the two pieces cut out from the top and bottom of the outer box in Step 2 to the inner box at the corners so that they fit into the cut-outs on the top and bottom of the outer box. These will be the secret opening panels, and allow you to slide the tray in and out of the outer box.

Step 6: Adding the Outer Frame Pieces

At 15mm from either end glue the bands around the outer box. While you can happily stop after the last step, this step ensures that the secret openings look hidden on the final box.

Your Chinese secret box is now complete!

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    2 years ago

    That looks nice :) Neat puzzle box design