Secret Locks and Compartments, Woodworking Magic Tricks

Article - March 15, 2014

One trait that every woodworker shares is the desire to be able to build something with their own hands. Many woodworkers start out by building projects based on other people’s plans. Then, either by necessity or ambition, the woodworker begins designing their own plans. Eventually, the desire to not only design something from scratch, but also incorporate some engineering trickiness begins to develop.

If you are like me, seeing puzzle boxes and secret compartments that operate in ways that seem to defy the laws of physics captures your full undivided attention. I love to watch these engineering marvels at work and I can’t sleep until I know how they work.

The funny thing is, I have never incorporated any trap doors or tricky locks into any project I’ve built so far. Creating a design from scratch usually leaves me wanting to get to work – not do more designing. I find myself lacking the motivation to put in the effort of adding complex parts to the design, and it just never gets done.

I was reminded today that adding some engineering awesome-sauce doesn’t have to be complex. There are quite a few simple ways to add a little mystique to a project without hiring a mechanical engineer. On the other hand, you could also take the Da Vinci route and fabricate something that will likely be shown on the TV show Modern Marvels. Either way, it’s fun to be able to add some personal touches to a project that will leave others in awe of your skill. Check out the following video to see how James Vavra over at Artistry in Wood added a simple magnet to transform a beautiful, but otherwise unassuming box, into a secret locking box.

I also stumbled upon another great trick box that I found from MAKE Magazine’s YouTube channel. In the video, Kip Kay goes through the steps to make a “UnaBox” puzzle box. This is another fairly simple, yet tricky, woodworking project that can be built in a day or so.

So what are you waiting for, get out there and put a little Houdini into your next project. Got any tricks up your sleeve? Share your secret design in the comments below or tell us about a tricky project that you want to try out.


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