Intro: Magnetic Lock Box
Have you ever just wanted a box that you could put valuables or private items in that doesn't use a conventional method to open, such as a key? This project here might be a very simple and great method to have exactly that, and stump who ever tries to get into the box.
This project was an idea I had gotten off the internet. I have a weird fascination with just making boxes and I decided to try to mix it up this time around by actually making a more complex box, and it actually is fairly simple to achieve, so I'll show you how.
Step 1: Gathering the Materials
Since I didn't have a lot to work with, I had to salvage a few things that I thought would work.
Wood: Any type of wood would actually work for this, but to make an exact replica of what I made, you'd want some regular pieces of wood and plywood. I also used a piece of balsa wood and I'll explain for what, later. You could get this at a store like Lowe's or Home Depot.
Metal: I had a long flat piece of metal that was non-magnetic. I found this by tearing it off of a wall. The metal was not being used.
Hinges: I bought some small hinges from a store. You could get them at a hardware store.
Magnet: We had neodymium magnets laying around. You could probably buy them online if you needed to.
Screws: I bought fancier brass screws from a hardware store.
Super Glue: Bought from a hardware store, preferably using the master race of Gorilla Glue.
Band Saw: I had this in the work shop, and I used it to cut metal.
Sander/Grinder: I had a Sander/Grinder in the shop to both sand down wood and metal.
Drill: A drill for all your drilling needs.
Step 2: Getting the Box Put Together
I firstly started out by getting a single piece of wood, cutting it at about 7 inches long for each piece. This is probably the easiest part about doing this project, unless you do the optional step, which I did.
You could dovetail the sides of the wood, to make a nicer finish on the actual sides. More will be explained in the next step.
If you are skipping the optional step, we will continue here:
The box would then be screwed together on each side, then using a piece of plywood that I found, I put the bottom piece on to the box, and screwed it in.
Step 3: Optional Step
This is more details on the actual dovetailing for the box. The image above shows what a dovetail jig looks like. We had this jig handmade and brought into the wood shop. This jig worked wonders, and made things so much easier than they were when I tried making the dovetails by hand.
To use this jig, all you need is a router tool and the bit that will make sure it glides smoothly around the outlines made by the plastic. You can find a full metal version of this jig online, but they aren't too cheap, sadly. They can usually run for around $100+, which isn't worth it, unless you are looking forward to making more boxes or anything that could use dovetailing.
If you badly want to dovetail this and do not have a jig, you could easily watch multiple Youtube videos on how to actually dovetail by hand, but I will warn you, if you are an impatient person, dovetailing is not right for you. Dovetailing takes precise cuts and measurements to work.
Above is also shown the box put together, with the dovetails.
Step 4: The Locking Mechanism
This was probably the hardest part for me, because I not only had to try to find a nice way to make the locking mechanism work, but also work smoothly.
This step consisted of my having to literally tear metal off of a wall to get what is shown above in the image. After I took the metal off the wall, I drew a rough sketch in pencil and marker on the metal to the shape of what is shown above. At the bottom of the metal, there is a small, circular, neodymium magnet super glued on it.
After this, I drilled out a small hole in the actual box for the piece of metal (with a hole shown in it) and added a small dowel rod for the piece of metal to sit and freely swing on.
On the inside of the box I had to route out a little path for this piece of metal to slide across, so it could move in place. Above in the pictures is a good reference I used to actually make this path.
After that, I put a small nonmagnetic metal sheet on the inside to attempt to hide the actual route made, along with keeping the piece of metal that is freely moving, in place (again shown in the images above).
Step 5: The Lid
For the lid, I found a piece of scrap wood that was going to be trashed and thrown away, that had the perfect groove cut out of it, with a slight bit of damage on it (picture shown above). The cut out was meant to be a handle of sorts, but if you just have a piece of wood made, you can easily just cut it out by hand, or by using the router tool.
After I found that piece of wood, I had to take yet another piece of metal out of that dreaded wall, and make something for the metal hook I made, to hook onto. The finale of the lid is shown above with the metal piece inserted this time, and glued to stay there (with the help of the godlike Gorilla Glue).
The rest of the lid was put into place by hinges and extremely small screws that you could only take out with a specific screw driver, because the grooves on the screw were so small. (This makes it harder for people to break into the box, by just taking it apart. A picture of the hinges on the box are also included above.)
Step 6: Realizing How It Works
It isn't too hard to understand how it actually works, but I will explain it anyways for those who don't quite understand;
The box will sit in a neutral state of being locked. The hook is tightly slid against the metal piece on the top of the lid. The magnet that is on the inside, on the hook and another outer magnet, will be the only thing that will be used to unlock and re-lock the box. Basically, if you drag the magnet in the path that was routed out for the hook to slide across, it will unlock and open. Please note that normal magnets will not work on this though, as only neodymium will have enough strength to open the box.
Why is this useful?
This is extremely useful, because if someone finds this box, there will be no indication of how to actually open the box, let alone know what to use to get into it. If a thief broke into your house and saw this box, he/she would be pretty confused on how to open it. They wouldn't think that a magnet was supposed to be used to open it, and you could highly doubt someone would just have a spare neodymium magnet on them to open it up with.