How to Make a Wooden Puzzle Box

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There are many types of wooden puzzles, including Moses' Cradle, drop puzzles, tessellations and pentominoes. Drop puzzles have one or more marbles or BB's, pegs and holes. By turning your wrist, the marbles are supposed to bounce off the pegs and into the holes. Moses' Cradle is a variation on the drop puzzle, except that it uses centrifugal force instead of gravity to work the marbles into place.


This article assumes that you have a basic understanding of the correct and safe use of woodworking hand tools and the correct use of personal safety equipment, including eye and ear protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrap-around eye protection
  • Marker
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wood chisel, gouges
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Clear acrylic sealant
  • Power drill, 1/4 inch diameter drill bit,
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Three-inch long, 1/4-inch diameter dowel peg
  • Two cat's eye glass marbles
  • Wood block 2" x 2" x 6"
  • Don wrap-around eye protection. Woodworking can produce chips and splinters. Use a marker to draw a 5- inch long, 1-inch wide oval on one of the 2-inch sides of the 2 by 2 inch by 6 inch wood block. Use a wood chisel or gouge and a rubber mallet to remove material from the oval until the marked area is 1 1/2 inches deep. Be sure to keep the gouged area rounded, with no sharp angles or corners.

  • Find the center point of the gouged area and drill a 1/4 inch diameter hole. Coat inside the hole with carpenter's glue. Insert the 3-inch long, 1/4-inch diameter dowel peg through the hole so that 1/8 inch to 1/4 of an inch sticks out the bottom side of the wooden Moses' Cradle puzzle box. Allow the glue to dry. You should now be able to spin the Moses' Cradle like a top, using the dowel peg.

  • Place a marble on each side of the dowel and spin the Moses' Cradle wooden puzzle box rapidly. Note the point where the marbles lay when the puzzle is spinning at its fastest. Stop the puzzle and drill a 1/4-inch deep pilot hole on each side of the dowel peg, at a 45-degree angle, where the marbles were laying when the puzzle was still spinning. Countersink each hole 1/4 inch deep.

  • Spin the puzzle again, noting whether or not the marbles fall into the holes. Adjust the holes between each spin by using a gouge, until the marbles fall into the holes while the puzzle is spinning and remain in the holes after it stops.

  • Sand your puzzle box inside and out to remove any burrs or rough edges. Remove the marbles and seal the entire puzzle box inside and out with two to three coats of clear acrylic sealant. Return the marbles to the puzzle. Moses' Cradle wooden puzzle boxes are not suitable for children under age five, due to choking hazard.

Tips & Warnings

  • Moses' Cradle wooden puzzle boxes are not suitable for children under age 5, due to choking hazard.
  • Don wrap-around eye protection. Woodworking can produce chips and splinters.

Related Searches

  • Photo Credit http://www.kastellorizo.org/puzzles/Index_labyrinths.htm, http://www.safetyfirstaid.co.uk/Product/SFA/PPE/Lucerne-Goggles.aspx, http://www.wood-carving-guide.com/
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