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Steampunk Puzzle Box – Part 2

Steampunk Puzzle Box Part 1

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The Hidden Drawer Puzzle

The Steampunk Puzzle Box I completed in part 1 is pretty cool but so far does not include any puzzles. You can see part 1 of this project here . In part 2, I will be adding the first of the puzzles to the box which is incorporated into the hidden drawer in the bottom of the box. The drawer itself acts to lock the right side sliding panel. Follow along and see how this was put together.

In these pictures you can see the opening in the right side of the Steampunk Puzzle Box where a hidden drawer is to be added. The drawer will act both as a hidden compartment as well as a locking mechanism. The first step is to make the drawer using the same quarter inch ash that was used for the inner box in part 1.

Making the Drawer

The first step in making the drawer is cutting the wood to the approximate sizes needed for the bottom, front, back and sides leaving extra material on edges for exact sizing later.

Pieces are Complete

After doing the final trimming to the wood pieces, you can see the shape of the drawer come together. I also pre-drilled a hole in the front panel that will be used for attaching the knob to the front of the drawer later.

With pieces cut to the correct sizes, wood glue is used along the edges of the pieces to put the drawer together. I used metal blocks to help hold everything square while the Irwin clamps held the glued sections together.

Removing the Clamps

Clamps removed and the rough drawer is together

The drawer is complete, though in pretty rough shape. It needs a bit of finish work, but you can start to see the shape and how it will fit into the drawer slot shown previously.

Using the belt sander and sanding wheel quickly bring everything into shape, the sides and bottom are sanded smooth and the four corners rounded. Once completed, the drawer slides into the false bottom slot easily.

Back Side Drawer Rod Set Up

While the hidden drawer serves as another compartment it will also act as a locking mechanism for the right side sliding panel of the Steampunk Puzzle Box. The back of the drawer slot will be spring loaded so when the drawer is slid in, the spring will hold the front of the drawer against the inside of the right sliding panel. An added drawer knob will extend into an opening drilled into the right panel locking it in place which keeps the right panel from sliding open.

To open the right side of the box, the drawer will need to be compressed against the spring, i.e. pulled away from the right panel then the knob will slide out of the hole allowing the right side to be slid up. This may sound confusing, but bear with me because it is a lot simpler than it sounds.

Now for the First Hole

In order to move the drawer away from the right panel I will be adding a pull rod to the back panel of the drawer which will extend out of the left side of the Steampunk Puzzle Box. Pulling on this rod will also pull the drawer in and retract the knob from inside the right sliding panel allowing it to be opened.

That’s a bunch of words, but I will make it clearer as we go along. In the previous photos I am marking and drilling the hole in the inner left side of the Steampunk Puzzle Box. This is the hole that a rod will be inserted through so that it can be attached to the drawer. In the second image above I use an aluminum block fixture with a quarter inch hole through the center so the hole will be perpendicular to the left inner side. The last picture shows me applying some stain and varnish to the freshly drilled hole.

Drilling the Drawer

The drawer rod will be attached to the back panel of the drawer. To get the hole in the drawer to line up with hole in the left inner side I placed a center punch through the hole while the drawer was slid in using the aluminum block fixture to help keep everything aligned. Once marked a light tap of the punch leaves a mark on the drawer back.. I drill the hole through with a 1/4 inch bit using the aluminum block fixture yet again to ensure that a straight hole is drilled.

Drawer rod holes complete

With that second drilling complete I now have 1/4 holes in the back of the drawer and the inner left side that line up perfectly.

Back Side Drawer Rod

The drawer rod itself I cut from a 1/4 inch brass rod. In order for the rod to be attached to the drawer, I drilled a hole in one end that a screw will fit through. After drilling the hole I milled the rod flat perpendicular to the hole. This allows me to slide different thicknesses of washer between the drawer bottom and the rod until I get just the right fit.

The rod attaches to the drawer using a screw that is inserted into the bottom of the drawer through the drawer rod. I mark the hole location and then drill the bottom to allow a 6-32 tapered brass screw to be inserted. So that the bottom of the drawer remains flat I counter sink the hole on the bottom side with a tapered bit and used a tapered screw.

Thinking Ahead

In the later parts of the design I will be drilling a hole in the right side sliding panel for the drawer knob to extend into. Before I go too far I again use a center punch lined up through the hole in the front panel of the drawer to mark this location. With the drawer and right side panel in place the punch is extended through the left panel hole, the back drawer hole and finally the knob hole drilled into the front of the drawer. Using a light tap on a piece of wood set against the center punch a mark is left in the correct spot on the right side panel. I will be drilling this piece later, but for now I have it marked so the drawer knob will line up with the future hole in the right panel.

The Spring is Sprung

The next step is to get the spring set into place. I first slide the spring over the drawer rod as seen in the first picture. In the next image you can see that I have inserted the drawer into place with the rod extending out the left side through the hole that I drilled there before.

When I pull the drawer back out the spring is left stuck in place between two wooden sections inside the box. Surprisingly, the two wood panels that hold this part of the box together also hold the spring in place quite well. I’d like to say I planned it this way, but I didn’t. I had thought I was going to have to make some type of clamp to hold the spring in place, but sometimes I do get lucky.

Cutting and Tapping the Drawer Rod

Obviously the rod is too long in its current state. You wouldn’t be able to slide the left panel in place with the rod extending out of left side. The rod needs to just meet the surface of the right side so the left panel will slide into place. To get the rod to the correct length I first mark it with black marker while it is attached to the drawer. The drawer is then inserted into the box and the right panel is slid into place. Pushing the rod in so the drawer fits tight against the right panel, I put a mark in the ink at the point where the rod extends out the left side giving me the correct length for the rod. I use the lathe to cut and face the rod to the correct length.

Once I have the rod cut to the correct length I am left with a dilemma. Now I can slide the left side of the Steampunk Puzzle Box closed, but I cannot pull the drawer rod to release the other side. The solution is to drill and tap the drawer rod end, and then after the left side panel is slid upwards I can thread a knurled screw into the end of the rod and pull which extracts the knob from the right panel allowing it to be slid open.

The Pieces Put Together

We can now put the pieces together. I attach the rod to the drawer, insert the drawer into the slot, and thread the knurled screw on so we can pull the drawer back against the spring.

The front of the drawer

From the front of the drawer you can see the rod in action pulling the drawer away from the right side.

Back to the Right Panel

Before I move on I quickly drill the right panel with the hole we marked earlier. This is the hole that the drawer knob will rest in holding this panel in place until we pull on the rod we made above. The outer right side has been removed as I do not want this hole visible when the Steampunk Puzzle Box is closed.

Next – The Knob

I rough cut, faced and bored a 5/16 inch brass rod to create the knob blank. In the right image I am starting to shape the knob.

I shaped the knob with the hole in the center allowing a 6-32 brass screw to hold it to the drawer front.

The knob attached to the drawer
Knob holding right inner panel

It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but the right side panel has been slid down into place. I pulled the drawer rod from the other side using the rod/knurled screw. With the drawer retracted the panel is slid down. When the rod is released, the knob extends into the hole locking the panel into place. The outer face piece of the panel has been removed so you can see the knob extending into the panel.

A Stop for the Side

With the mounting of the drawer knob I have completed the drawer locking puzzle, but before we finish everything I want to add some embellishments. One of these is a stop for the right side panel. The left side panel has to slide completely off when solving the Steampunk Puzzle Box. This allows the top panel to be slid to the left and ultimately the right panel to slide up revealing the hidden drawer. I do not need or want the right panel to come off completely. For one thing it’s similar appearance to the left side panel would make getting the box back together needlessly confusing.

To solve this issue I need to add a stop to right side that will only allow the panel to lift far enough to open the drawer. As a first step I drill a hole in the right side where the stop rod/pin will extend from. I drilled a 3/16 inch hole in the center of the inner right side just below the top lip and slid a 3/16 inch brass rod into the hole as seen in the last picture. The stop will be made from this piece of brass.

I Need to Attach the Rod to the Box

In order hold the stop in place I use a 1/4 inch brass square rod that I drilled with a number of holes. The first is 3/16 inches and will be where the stop pin is attached. The second is drilled and tapped with a 8-32 thread right next to it, and this is where the knurled screw for pulling on the drawer will be stored inside the Steampunk Puzzle Box. Perpendicular to these holes I added two 6-32 threaded holes which will be used to hold the stop pin assembly to the box. In these images I am marking, cutting and drilling the support and then use it to mark hole locations for mounting it to the box. Finally, mounting holes are drilled into the box.

The Completed Assembly

With the piece to be used for the stop pin slid into place, I am screwing the support in with brass screws. Next I need to measure the correct length for the stop pin itself. I want the rod to extend into right side about 1/8th of an inch. A slot will be cut into the right side that will slide over the stop. Where the slot ends will be as far as the right side can be slid up.

Here you can see where I measure the pin length, cut it and solder it to the support. When that is done I clean the pin assembly with sandpaper.

Now you can see the completed stop pin and support in detail. The first picture shows the stop pin with screw threaded into the support. Then the last image has the knurled drawer pull screw kind of in the storage location (I just noticed it’s screwed into the wrong side in this picture).

These images show everything in place. The pin extends out from the inner right side to stop the right panel from sliding too far. The drawer pull screw is inserted into the tapped hole used for storing it inside the middle compartment.

The Slot for the Stop

Now I need to cut the slot into the right side sliding panel. I placed protective tape over the area to be milled, marked it for the correct location and length then mounted the panel to the mill and cut the 1/4 inch wide 1/8 inch deep slot into the wood.

The completed slot

Here is the right panel with the outer facade removed and slot cut in.

A New Spring Bushing

Right now the spring inside the side of the box impinges on a cotter pin through the drawer rod which works okay, but sometimes it’s been getting hung up in the spring.

I thought a better design would be to make a bushing that is held in place by set screws. It slides on against the drawer, and with the set screws I can adjust the location for the proper tension/compression.

New Bushing in place

Here is the re-designed drawer rod reattached. That looks much better!

Time to Do Some Coating

After sanding the drawer I apply red oak stain to the bare wood surfaces, including the slot in the right side panel.

After the stain is dry I apply two coats of polyurethane varnish.

What’s the Catch

Currently, when I slide the right side panel up, it slides back down as soon as I let go of it. To fix this I am going to put a small brass wood screw into the bottom of the slot.

I drill a small hole at the base of the slot then use a reaming tool to make a slight taper in the top of the hole.

Catch screw in place

With this catch screw in place I can adjust it in or out so that it will just impinge on the stop holding the side panel in place.

The catch screw holding the right panel in place.

Here the right panel is slid up as far as it will go and the catch screw holds it in place.

Right side open

This is a view from the other side with the right panel held open by the catch screw.

A Look at the Progress

The embellishments are almost completed. These are a few pictures of where we stand so far.

A Tag as a Hint

As a hint I decided to chain a tag to the knurled drawer pull screw. I am using a small copper wire to solder the chain to the tag.

Chain attached and trimmed

After I trim the copper wire the chain is attached to the tag.

I am using a figure eight of wire to attach the pull screw to the chain.

Completed hint tag

I cleaned up the solder and trimmed the dangling wires.

As a finishing touch I painted a red dot on the tag and a matching one near the pull rod where the screw threads into.

Step by Step – Open the Steampunk Puzzle Box.

The left side panel is slid up and removed.

The pull screw is removed from the middle compartment after lid is slid over.

Match up the pull screw with the left side threaded hole.

Thread the pull screw into the drawer rod and pull.

Accessing the Drawer

Right side raised

This action releases the right side so it can be raised.

The hidden drawer is revealed.

As you can see the drawer is revealed, but before it can be slid out the pull screw needs to be removed from the pull rod.

Drawer is open
Steampunk Puzzle Box Opened

With that the Steampunk Puzzle Box is now opened. The drawer lock puzzle and right side panel lock are complete. Closing the box is just reversing the steps shown above. Next up in part 3 are the puzzles that will lock/unlock the left side panel.

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Steampunk Puzzle Box – Part 1

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