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Author Topic: How to make a Mechanical Puzzle Box (Hellraiser?)  (Read 31171 times)
TheAurora
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« on: December 27, 2010, 08:17:49 am »

Hello!

Note: I am a complete beginner.
Lately I've been wanting to try something entirely different from my usual craft (crochet); I want to make a mechanical lock puzzle box. I've tried looking up books and tutorials for it, but I honestly haven't found anything on making them, only brief info on what they are.

I'd like to make one similar to the Lemarchand's Box featured in the Hellraiser series of movies, although I'm not looking to make an exact copy of it. In case anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about, here are some photos:

<a href="http://tinypic.com?ref=fp5pi" target="_blank"><img src="http://i51.tinypic.com/fp5pi.jpg" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a>

<a href="http://tinypic.com?ref=2w6dv1c" target="_blank"><img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/2w6dv1c.jpg" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a>

I'd like to know how to make one that moves electronically and isn't guided entirely by hand like traditional puzzle boxes. I'm planning to make the majority of the box out of wood, but suggestions for materials would be nice also!

<a href="http://tinypic.com?ref=2rfveig" target="_blank"><img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/2rfveig.jpg" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a>

Thanks in advance.
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2010, 11:55:08 am »

Yeah..er...good luck with that.
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2010, 01:23:01 pm »

While the good Captain D gets the point across, he's not enormously helpful with that one. (Funny though. Cheesy)

I'll endeavor to translate.

I think he's using a kind of shorthand to say that making a box of that sort is not a job for a beginner.
Two reasons for this.

1. It would take a level of knowledge and skill that a beginner may not possess.

2. (And this is the important one.)  It is likely to lead you to being disheartened if the thing does not turn out as you would want it.

I can't fault your ambition. Aiming high is a good thing, but maybe you would be better to build slowly to that aim by starting on a less demanding project that you can complete to a good standard. Having a nicely finished object is a big boost to confidence and is also an encouragement to try something a bit more demanding.

This site has lots of designs for wooden puzzles that are a good start point to get familiar with the principles and techniques needed.
http://www.woodworkersworkshop.com/resources/index.php?cat=452

It should also be noted that the box in the film is a film prop and not necessarily able to operate in all the ways you see on the screen (SFX and what-not)

So there you go. We've learned that Captain Dirigible is a genius at abbreviation.

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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2010, 01:29:19 pm »

I'll second the good Captain's post.
You've picked an area that requires serious skill and lots of practice and then picked an example which would be near the pinacle of the art. (Adding electronics is a whole new level of complication)
Here's one guys approach http://www.quagmirepuzzleboxes.com/TheCraft.htm (with a suggested reading list.)
There is a walkthrough for a very simple puzzle box at http://www.am-wood.com/apr98/puzzle.html

I don't mean to discourage you, far from it, and look forward to seeing pictures of your work, but may I suggest starting with something simpler to gain an understanding of the processes involved.

(Edited to Add, Not only does Dr Q type faster than myself, he phrases his advice far better as well)


« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 01:32:30 pm by Mnemoria » Logged
bicyclebuilder
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2010, 05:01:40 pm »

Like many others before me wished you, I must wish you good luck to. Can't have to many good luck now, can you?  Grin
I think a cylindric puzzle could be a nice start for a wooden puzzle.
I've found some pics that speak a thousand words.



This puzzle you can see the maze, but if you make an inverted one, you can't.
In other words, if you make the maze on the inside of the outer ring and a pin on the outside of the cylinder, you can't see the maze.
But again, good luck. I'd love to see WIP pictures though.
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2010, 07:23:01 pm »

While I don't have any direct knowledge of making Hellraiser-esque puzzle boxes, I can make at least one suggestion about the general class of problem. After some reading and research on puzzle boxes, start thinking about actions that you want the box to take—folds, turns, opening, closing, and so on, and mock up each mechanism separately in some simple medium like cut paper, cardboard, or foamcore board, plus hot glue, wire, drinking straws, and other such things. The biggest problem with three-dimensional mechanisms is that they are three-dimensional, and breaking a problem into a series of mockups without any commitment in expensive materials and time can free you to tinker and sketch, so to speak.
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Capt. Dirigible
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2010, 07:43:46 pm »

Many thanks to Dr Quack for elucidating on my original post. I just think it's a pointlessly ambitious project for someone who's usual skills are crotchet!! You only have to look at the animated gif that The Aurora posted to see that making a wooden box that does what that does is an impossibility. With the right woodworking skills it would be possible to make one like the picture in the first link-where a whole section lifts out and  turns 45 degrees to slot back in-and also to make the version of the box shown in the second link where another section on another side slides out completely. But no way could you make one that does both actions. It's just not possible. And it certainly wouldn't be possible to make one that does all the functions shown in the animated third link. The box in the Hellraiser films does it because it's  a visual effect. They used about 10 different boxes, each one with a different action, in the films and the rest was all CGI. No one box can do all those actions..and electronically by it's self?? It would need to be about a cube about a foot square to fit the necessary electronics/mecahanics inside and would probably weight several kilos when  finished.

However..by way of a olive branch to The Aurora, can I suggest you have a bash at making a Turkish puzzle jewellry box. I have one I bought in Romania a few years back and is very clever. Sliding sections, hidden locks..it's really  cool. It would be an easier project for your novice woodworking skills, I'm sure



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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 01:42:29 am »

Here's a fairly simple puzzle box from Make: Magazine #20

Instructions at http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol20/?pg=67&pm=1&u1=friend or http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/01/weekend_project_unabox_pdf.html
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 04:45:13 am by von Corax » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 06:31:17 am »

Sadly, it is also pretty near impossible to get chains and hooks to shoot out and snare the opener. Hooks on the end of chains tend to strike and bounce off, in the normal way of business, at least according to some desultory experiments. I will be happy to be proven wrong on this, mind you.
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2011, 04:06:57 am »

I agree such a project would be daunting. I admire your spirit tho. I think you should do as the gentlemen suggest and start off with the basics. In the old days, puzzle box makers were widely admired and everyone knew the difficult conundrum such pieces of art gave them. All said and done and I do give a honorary bow to the hellraiser box--however, this is a steampunk forum and a steampunk puzzle with gears and windings with a liberal dash of art would be much more appealing and give you better heartfelt praise from your peers here...
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Darkhound
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2011, 10:30:07 pm »

Note that if you did succeed in producing a box with all the actions of Lemarchand's Box, you too would have produced an obscene violation of the laws of Time and Space allowing the Legions of the Damned free access to the world of the Living. This would be a Very Bad Thing. See any of the movies in the  Hellraiser series for a hint as to how bad.

Succeeding in creating a nice Turkish jewelry box, on the other hand, would offer the satisfactions of making a challenging project, creating an interesting puzzle, and having a nifty place to keep your trinkets. Much nicer all round.
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2011, 02:39:18 pm »

The skill and dedication that goes into box making let alone puzzle making is extraordinary.  Sure any schlub with a piece of timber and some tools (like me) can make a box, but the art of crafting a thing of beauty takes years of practice.

Anyone that's a 'beginner' needs to be a little creative in their approach to creating that one off piece of art, that something that hasn't been mass produced and sold to the masses.

If I were to undertake this project, the first thing I'd do (after asking my wife for permission) is to find something pre-built that I could modify.

If it were to be say a functional jewelery box, I'd hit up stores like etsy or eBay to find the box that suits the style.  Then to add a little bit of mystique to it (and in your case puzzle) is to think about how it could lock and unlock. A hidden button, or a series that need to be pressed in the right combination.

It's just an idea, please don't let folks post here fool you into thinking that a project can be easy, a great deal of these people are artisans in their chosen fields.

Albeit not a puzzle this is one of my favorite creations along these lines
http://wn.com/Japanese_wooden_sculpture_of_a_mechanically_driven_heart


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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2011, 03:39:53 pm »

WOW - what a beautiful piece of engineering.

Thanks for posting the link, Joeynana.
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2011, 06:40:12 pm »

WOW - what a beautiful piece of engineering.

The very words I was going to post....amazing
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2011, 07:53:08 pm »

 Smiley The heart is amazing, as you watch it move you know it will all come back into place yet when it does it just puts a big smile on your face and nothing but admiration for the builder. Grin
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