Wine Bottle Puzzle




Introduction: Wine Bottle Puzzle

I've seen many of the wine bottle puzzle kits that are available for purchase but they seemed a little expensive for what they are. Since joining my local hackerspace (Northackton) I've not actually made anything, so I thought I'd see if I could make one over a weekend.

Based on pictures of existing designs, I started with some sketch drawings to see if it was feasible. I might have a go at drawing up a CAD version, as I'd like to try cutting one out with CNC or even a laser cutter in the future. It would be really interesting to try it with acrylic.

This is my fist Instructable, so constructive criticism and comments are gratefully received. I'd be really interested to see if anyone else has a go at building one.

Step 1: Cut Out Parts

I was quite surprised by how little material I needed to make this puzzle. There's not that many parts but some of them are a little small and fiddly.

I used entirely materials I had lying around: some 5mm ply, some 8mm ply and some thin rope; thick shoelaces would probably suffice. As a protoype ply was fine, but I think it would look nicer in plain wood. Wood glue holds it all together, though its annoying to wait for it to set. You'll need minimal tools. I used a jigsaw to cut the wood, but a scroll saw would be better. A drill and bit of similar size to your rope is also necessary.

After a little research online, I started with some scrawly paper sketches to see if the concept would work and work out some sensible dimensions. With a puzzle of this type, accurate dimensions are quite critical. I did make one mistake, but I was able to recover it.

Skip these if you don't follow, it should all become clear in the next couple of steps.

Step 2: Cover

The puzzle consists of two parts. A cover to prevent the bottle being opened and a locking mechanism to hold prevent this cover being removed.

This step describes the cover. It consists of two boxes, one around the lid and one around the bottom of the bottle. These are held together by a loop of rope from the top cover through the bottom cover and back to be secured tightly via a hasp and staple arrangement. The rope length can be adjusted by moving the knot inside the top cover.

I should have taken a photo of the parts, but I forgot. For a wine bottle sized version, you need to cut the following wood:

1x 5mm ply 90x90mm (base)
2x 5mm ply 40x90mm (long side)
2x 5mm ply 40x80mm (short side)

1x 5mm ply 45x45mm  (top)
1x 5mm ply 45x55mm ('long' side)
2x 5mm ply 35x55mm (short sides)
1x 5mm 90x55mm (long side with 'staple') *

* I made the staple a little too short and had to elongate the hole for the puzzle to work. Next time I'd make it 100mm long, and move the 22mm hole 10cm further out. This allows enough room for both hasps to sit on the staple and still get the small ball though - crucial to the puzzle!

The hasp needed to be a bit thicker, so I made this from 8mm ply.

Step 3: Locking Mechanism

The second part of the puzzle is a mechanism to prevent removal of the cover. This consists of a hasp, a square piece and two different sized balls. These are all connected with a piece of string.

Sizes are on my paper plan in step 1, but the key points are that the square must be too big for the circular hole on the top cover, but small and thin enough to fit through the hasp slot. The small ball must be too big for the hasp slot, but small enough to fit through the top cover circular hole (~15mm diameter sphere, or 11mm diameter cube if you don't round it off). The large ball doesn't need to fit through anything, it needn't be humungous, but make it large enough not to fit through the circular hole in the top cover.

I didn't have any suitable wooden balls and imagined it would be hard to get hold of the correct dimensions. So with some glue, lots of a patience and a Dremel I approximated some spheres from some made-up cubes. They're a bit knobbly, but I think it adds to the plywood 'effect'.

Step 4: Finished

Let the glue dry and the finished article is complete. I'm not sure whether to detail the process involved in locking the bottle in here. It would be a bit of a spoiler as the same process in reverse will unlock it.

I'll leave it as a small challenge for the builder (it's easier to lock than unlock), but you want it to look as illustrated when you've finished.

Having completed the project, I'm now a bit loathe to give it away. I might have to give it with the proviso that I can have the puzzle back once they've opened and drunk the wine.

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26 Discussions

Thanks for the instructable, love it. My wife wanted one, the pic is my second one and i've got 2 more to make. Really enjoyed it

1 reply

Wow. That's really really nice. I'm still waiting for my father to solve my puzzle so I can have it back to help make another one.


3 years ago

Made one, your instructable was a great guide.


i might make this for my GCSE resistent materials product. at the moment im making a burr puzzle. hmm

Thanks MatB, just made one thats better,i think. Can't post it yet, its another birthday gift. Good Luck with father,lol.

Is there a solution to this? I built it and can't figure out how it is even posible to open.

1 reply

Personally speaking, I built it unlocked and then locked it, but each to their own. If you've built it just as in the picture it should be unlockable, but it did take my brother a couple of days over Christmas to figure it out.

I am having trouble reading your diagrams. What are the dimensions of the hasps and do they need to be able to fit through the hole in the cleat? And I am assuming that the slots in the hasps are 35 by 5 mm. Is that correct?

1 reply

Sorry for the delay in replying. I tried to get round to doing a CAD drawing for you, but I haven't managed to yet.

The hasps should be small enough to just fit through the hole in the cleat (my hole was 22mm, but then I had to elongate it a little to allow both hasps to fit on the cleat yet still let the small ball through. I planned them at 20mm x 40mm but in the end made them a little longer - length is not critical.

A slot of 35mm x 5mm seems about right. Since letting my brother loose on my puzzle I've found that you want the one that's part of the bottle cover to be a tight fit widthways so it can't be slid off over the rope. The one that is part of the locking mechanism needs a bit more play as sliding over the ropes is part of the solution; perhaps make this slot about 8mm to 10mm wide if you're using 5mm ply.

Great Ibble, I am going to do several of these in solid hardwood and give them away next Christmas, and adding this to my faves.

Thanks for the Instructable. I have been wanting to "reverse engineer" one of these two part puzzles for some time. I currently make a cage style puzzle for wine and spirits that I give away during the holidays. They are easy to make, deceptively difficult to open, and look great behind a bar or on a liquor shelf. Your puzzle will add to the available styles that I can manufacture. I would like to alter the design slightly in order to use a cork screw as part of the mechanism. This would make a complete "Wine Kit" out of the puzzle.

2 replies

A cage-style puzzle sounds cool. I'd like to see pictures or even better and Instructable on it. Neat idea to include a corkscrew in the puzzle.

MatB-that is really well done. You are way smarter than I am.

This is fantastic! I'm making this for my parents for Christmas, they'll get a kick out of it.

to solve the puzzle, i would just cut the string. :P