Making a Traditional Puzzle Box – W1220-18

Date: Aug 20 - 24, 2018

Skill Level(s): open to all i

Instructor(s): Kagen Sound

Tuition: $975
Studio Fee: $100
Registration Fee: $45


Take the guesswork out of puzzle box making in a fun and functional course that explores the secrets of artistic traditions. In this workshop, we discover the Japanese art of making a secret opening box in multiple stages. First we cut and assemble an infrastructure. Then we cut plates of wood, which slide in sequence about the box. Finally, we finish the exterior of the box with veneer or solid wood overlay. The result is a better understanding of form and function, and a beautiful traditional Japanese puzzle box.

Media & Techniques:

We focus on using a shooting board, pull saw and block plane to create the sides and structure of the box. Further jigs and hand tools are used to create locking mechanisms for the box. Students are encouraged to elaborate on ideas and design their own puzzle box.


We set up a workstation specific to making precise small boxes. Parts are cut for a puzzle box using hand saw and block plane. We then add small mechanical parts, such as an invisible dovetail slider and peg and track. The box is assembled with glue and clamps.


Kagen Sound has been a full-time puzzle box artist since 2001. His work has received numerous awards in the worldwide puzzle community and he is regarded as a friend of the Karakuri Creation Group, a Japanese guild of puzzle box craftspeople. Many of Kagen’s boxes, including his first mechanical table, are part of the permanent collection of puzzles at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.


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