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You may have seen those puzzles based on a bicycle chain combination lock, where a series of rings are turned to a certain number, and the inner barrel can be pulled out. Those puzzles are bigger, usually made of wood, and the rings have letters. When the letters are turned to spell out a word, the inner cylinder can be withdrawn. This is my version of those “Cryptex” puzzles, but mine is a box, not a tube. Each side has six sliders, and each slider has three positions, making 2187 combinations of positions per side. Every slider has to be moved to a certain position before the inner box can be withdrawn. Total number of combinations is 2187 by 2187 four times. The inner box is hollow, so you can keep stuff in it. Without the solution (and you can make your own), you may not live long enough to get the inner box out! Don’t attempt to make this if you get bored easily-there is a lot of repetitious cutting, filing, gluing to do. The puzzle measures 5” by 3” by 3”, made from 1/8” wood, and there are 142 pieces to this puzzle. The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size.
Double Two This box is also available as a kit from MyersCrafts
Looking vaguely like a die, a black box with two discs on two faces. Both sets of discs can be turned, but only one set can be turned and moved, before the other set can be moved. When all four discs have been turned and moved, then the lid can be opened. Not too difficult really. But if you weren’t told anything else, would you think you’ve solved the puzzle? If you think you’re finished, you’re wrong, because there is a secret drawer yet to open. The box mechanism is hidden inside the side panels, so you could keep trinkets and stuff inside, and the drawer is just the right size to hide folded banknotes. You may not find it so easy to find... The box measures 4” x 4” x 3”, made entirely from 1/8” plywood.
Another sliding panel puzzle box, with pictures of Roman statues all around it. Only three panels can move, and they don’t have any “secret” sliders. But they must be moved around to get the lid off. There’s no sign of a secret drawer, but there is one, the full length and width of the box, hidden away in the base. Only when the lid is removed, and another four steps made, can the drawer be revealed and taken out. Like Cyrus Redblock, this one takes eleven moves to get the lid off, but is much easier to make. The size of this box is 4-1/2” by 3” by 2-1/2”, but the plans are T-Plans, allowing you to make this any size.
The Crate This box is also available as a kit from MyersCrafts
This looks like a model of a packing crate, but it is another “sliding panel” puzzle box. The difference with this one is that you can see right through the whole thing, and all the workings are on the outside! There are long sliders and short sliders criss-crossing each other over nearly all the faces, and they all have to be moved to allow the end, bottom and top panels to move, and remove the top. It takes 18 slider moves, and 6 panel moves to open the box. The box measures 6 by 3-½ by 3-¼ inches, if made from 1-8” plywood. Caution! This box takes a lot of making-everything is made from strips of wood, held together with glue and dowel pins. There are 94 strips to cut, and 88 dowel pegs. You will need about 3 feet of 1/8” dowel rod to make all the pegs. Oh yes, and there are an awful lot of holes to drill! The plans are T-Plans, which will allow you to make this at any size.
Unhinged “Unhinged? Isn’t that a term for someone who’s mad? Are you mad?” “It takes one to know one.”
The other side of the box is identical to this side. Just a box, measuring three inches each way, with a lid held on by a hinge. But wait! There’s a hinge on each side! What’s the point of four hinges? Surely it can’t open properly if it’s held on by four hinges? Well, yes it can... Not so much a puzzle box, more of a mechanical magic trick. The lid is held on by one hinge, but close it, and it opens by another hinge! In fact, it can open by ANY of the hinges. They are just ordinary hinges, available from any hardware store. The photos don’t really show what this box is like. You have to see the video to get the full effect of this box in action. Caution! For all it’s simple appearance, and apparently simple operation, this box will take a lot of making. Using hinges that measure 7/8” by 1-1/2”, the box is made from 1/8” plywood. And the sides must be plywood, unless you’re very good with small chisels.
Cul-De-Sac “Cul-De-Sac? Isn’t that a French word? So is this a French puzzle box?” “Je suis désolé. Je ne parle pas Anglais, vous imbécile ignorant.”
A lot of Oriental puzzle boxes have the same method of opening: Move one end, move the top, move the other end, move the bottom, and so on until the lid comes off. This box follows a similar procedure. However, on this box, both sliders can move backwards and forwards, both end panels can move up and down, and both top and bottom panels can move left and right! As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are EIGHT different “routes” to follow to open the lid. Once you’ve started a route, you have to carry on until you reach the end. Seven routes will lead you to a dead end, because the lid won’t come off. Only one route leads to the lid coming off. The box looks the same from every angle, so you can’t tell which way is up or down, back to front, end to end. This is my favourite puzzle box, because, even though I know the correct moves, I can’t get them right first time... 15 correct moves to open the lid, but there are 97 wrong moves! If you reach a dead end, you have to go back to the start. The size of this box is 4” x 2-1/2” x 2”, and is made from 1/8” wood. But the plans allow you to make this any size. A fair amount of precise cutting involved. Patterns include with the plans. The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size. VIDEO
The House “There’s a Broos, aloose, aboot this hoose.” “Why are you talking like that? You’re not Scottish.” “Och, mon, d’ye nae ken Robert the Bruce?”
This looks like a model of a house, but it’s another puzzle box. The windows and the door have to be moved around, and when open, the whole front of the house will slide forward, rather like a drawer. Not difficult to open, and if a coin slot was cut in the roof, it would serve as a money box. The house measures about 5” x 4-½” x 3”, and is made from 1/8” ply, but you can make this any size you wish. Some of the inside parts are a little fiddly, but straight forward. The brick, tile and windows patterns are included with the plans. The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size.
Cubey 3 “Surely, the Cubey puzzles are simple to open?” “Who told you that?”
Same size as Cubey 1 and 2: 2” each way. Same appearance as Cubey 2: every side is joined to it’s neighbour by a bevel joint, and the grain on each side is 90° to the next side, making it impossible to tell which side you’re looking at. So what’s different? Now every panel now has to be moved THREE TIMES, in TWO directions in order to open the box. Now, there are 18 moves to open the box. Once you’ve started, there are two possible panels to move, the one you’ve just moved, and the next one to be moved, but because you can’t tell where you are, you might go backwards instead of forwards. You might spend the rest of your life, just going backwards and forwards until the box wears out... The box is made from 1/8” and 1/4” plywood. Easy to cut, assembly is a little tricky. Very hard to open... The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size.
This has to be the the Ultimate Cubey! Slightly larger than the other Cubey puzzles, but with the same bevelled joints, and the same right-angled wood grain direction, making it very difficult to tell which side you’re looking at. Instead of a sliding panel, each side has a wheel, which must be rotated and pushed in one direction to move an inner panel. Now you must do the same again with another wheel to move another panel. Unlike the earlier Cubeys, which only had one panel that would move at the start, on this box every panel can move at the start. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL WHICH PANEL TO START WITH! EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING TO OPEN! You could open this box in just 6 moves, or it could take you up to 252 moves to open! Be warned: this box takes a lot of making-there are lots of little holes to drill, lots of circles to cut, very precise panels to cut, and assembly is tricky. But well worth the effort... The box is made from 1/8” and 1/4” plywood. The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size.
Just a plain looking, ordinary box, 4” x 2-1/2” x 2” in size, and is another “sliding panel” puzzle box. But wait! Where are the “hidden” sliders? There are NO sliders! Every outer panel is a complete, whole piece of wood! That means the the panels themselves must be moved. Right, so it’s fairly easy then. Wrong. It starts easy enough, but halfway through becomes harder, because every sliding panel can now move in two directions... It takes 18 moves to open the lid, and quite a few more to remove every panel. Very easy to make, with only a few tongues and notches to cut out. Assembly is a little tricky, but not too hard. The plans are T-Plans, which allow you to make this any size.