Puzzle Box




About: I like to design and build random things.

This is a pretty simple build and can be used as an intelligence test for your friends. The project was reversed engineered from pictures I saw online. In addition, a smaller version with a cool burn finish built by marsjer000 is documented here.

The complete drawing is shown below. Check out the YouTube videos for animation and actual build. Have fun!

Animation Video

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Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • Wood - 3 1/2" x 1/2" x 60"
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Stain


  • Table saw
  • Band saw (optional)
  • Drill and 1/4" bit
  • Sander
  • Clamps

Step 2: Top Level

Use these views when referring to the parts in the steps below. Note that all dimensions are for a perfect fit. Sanding will be required to prevent interference.

Step 3: Box Top and Bottom

Cut top and bottom - each is 3 1/2" x 9 3/4". Add 2 grooves to each piece 1 1/8" from each side. I used a table saw which has a 1/16" thick blade. The grooves should be 1/8" deep. Cut corner block off each side. The cuts should line up with the start of the groove and run 1" into the board. I used a band saw for this cut. Save blocks since they will be used later. Also, add a reference note in pencil on each block to match up to the correct side.

Step 4: Cut Box Sides and Back

Cut box sides – 1 1/2" x 6 1/8" & 1 1/2" x 9 3/4" and box back – 1 1/2" x 2 1/2". Don't drill the hole at this level. It will be added later.

Step 5: Assemble Box

Assemble top, bottom, sides and back with glue and/or nails. If nailed, keep nails at least 1/2" from the future dowel hole. Sand assembly.

Step 6: Cut Main Drawer Parts

Cut drawer bottom - 2 1/2" x 5 1/8" , drawer sides - 1 " x 5 1/8" and drawer back - 1 1/2" x 2 1/2". Don't drill hole at this level. It will be added later.

Step 7: Assemble Main Drawer

Assemble bottom, sides, front and back with glue and/or nails. Carefully attach finger blocks as shown. Refer to the reference notes made on the blocks to assure the blocks match the top and bottom sides. Note that thin shims might be required under the blocks to assure alignment with top and bottom sides. Sand assembly.

Step 8: Cut Side Drawer Parts

Cut drawer bottom - 2" x 3 1/8", drawer sides 2" x 1", drawer front - 3 5/8" x 1 1/2" and drawer back - 3 1/8" x 1 1/2". Two of the eight short trim pieces (2 1/2" x 1") will be added to this assembly.

Step 9: Assemble Side Drawer

Don't add trim pieces at this point. Sand assembly.

Step 10: Add Trim

Per the drawing, draw alignment lines around the perimeter of the box for the 4 trim rings. Add the 8 long trim pieces to the top and bottom sides. Next, add 5 short trim pieces to the sides. Then, add the 2 short trim pieces to the side drawer. These should be a snug fit to provide friction so drawer doesn't slide out. Add the last trim piece (dowel trim) - DON'T GLUE THIS PIECE.

Step 11: Add Pin Assembly

Place main drawer inside box. Make sure front of drawer is flush with the front of the box. With side trim aligned, drill a very small hole through the trim, box and drawer. Remove trim and drill a 1/4" diameter hole through box/drawer assembly. With the small hole as a guide, drill a 1/4" diameter, 1/4" deep hole into the trim. Glue pin into the trim. Fill small hole with wood filler or glue/sawdust.

Step 12: Sand Assembly

Clean up the edges of the trim by sanding. I also rounded all the corners.

Step 13: Finish

Finish as desired. I used red oak stain.

See description in YouTube videos to download a free drawing file.

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    15 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Fun project! I added another dowel peg between the end of the long drawer and the side of the side drawer to lock the side drawer in place while fully assembled. Looking forward to making more, possibly more complicated, puzzle boxes.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm always worried that the side drawer is going to fall out when people are trying to open the puzzle. That's a really good idea!


    2 years ago

    there is any chance that you could post measures in decimal?

    thanks a lot :)

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    All of the dimensions are in decimal format. I think I tried to keep everything in 1/8" increments so it would be easier to see on a ruler.


    Reply 1 year ago

    i think he means, can you use the metric system : mm/cm/m.. writing fractions of an inch in decimal format is not the decimal system, thats still the imperial system :D
    good work btw


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks. Yeah, I wasn't sure what he was asking. I get a decent amount of request to convert all the units to metric. I don't do it but I provide a conversion factor for those willing to go that route.

    Also, I usually start with wood with imperial size (1/2", 3/4", etc.). To keep things simple for me, I keep the imperial system throughout. BTW, I have to work with both units in my job. With that said, I would love for the US to convert fully to metric.


    3 years ago

    this looks like a nice idea


    5 years ago

    Excellent work! I'll be making this soon. Only difference, I'll use my scroll saw in place of the bandsaw.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. The only critical cut is the for the finger blocks since you want to keep the gap as thin as possible in order to hide the cut. A scroll saw should work well.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    My thoughts exactly. I'm thinking about a minor distressed look. Rough scratches with the grain, and a slightly weathered stain look.