Amazing Japanese Puzzle Boxes and Trick Boxes

The World's best designers and craftsmen

Story Highlights

  • Puzzle Box History
  • Puzzle Box Mechanics
  • Design and Construction
  • How to look after your Trick boxes?
  • Special Trick & Puzzle Boxes

TheMetagrobologist consistently presents exclusive interviews articles and features. This month we are delighted to present an article on the history of Japanese Puzzles Boxes and Secret Puzzle Boxes from the world’s most amazing puzzle boxes designers and craftsmen.

You must have at least seen if not come across a trick box. A small wooden box, its face embellished with intricate geometric designs, done up in brightly coloured chunks of wood. They are known by different names – secret boxes, trick boxes, puzzle boxes and also Himitsu Bako. Call it what you may, but they are indeed an intriguing and highly functional work of art.

Puzzle Box History

The origins of the puzzle box date back over 3,000 years, originating in Egypt from where they spread to other areas of the globe. Most modern puzzle boxes developed from secret compartments and hidden openings hidden in fine furniture and jewellery boxes that were popular in the Renaissance. During Victorian England, they became even more popular and were imported and bought as tourist souvenirs, especially those from the Hakone region of Japan where the production of these boxes and their mosaic woodwork in small handicrafts such as trays, boxes and chests had become the desired art form.

In Japan, trick boxes were first made in the Hakone-Odawara region of Japan. For many years, the town of Hakone was a relay station on the main road to Edo (present-day Tokyo) and attracted hordes of traffic for its hot springs. For generations, local master artisans took advantage of the wonderful variety and extraordinary selection of trees in the region. The very first Japanese Secret Puzzle Boxes were designed over 100 years ago in the late Edo period by Jinbei Ishikawa (1790-1850).

With the abundance of high-quality varieties of wood local artisans developed the Hakone-Yosegi-Zaiku as souvenirs for travellers from the small carry boxes they used for their tools. The geometric patterns and marquetry technique originated in the late Edo Period, and in May 1984, was designated a National Traditional Handicraft by the International Trade & Industry Minister.

Today, the trick boxes make an ideal gift option and with the expansion and exposure of the internet, there are more designs being produced today than ever.

Karakuri Small Box by the Karakuri Creation Group
Given that the trick and puzzle boxes have been around for centuries, they have evolved greatly in their design, sizes and wood varieties.
We now have many intriguing and beautiful wooden pieces of art and, with some even have hard to break security features, enabling you to lock it without a key and use as fine jewellery boxes or boxes you can use to stash important documents.

Puzzle Box Mechanics

The Japanese box is enclosed on all sides, making it difficult to tell the top and the bottom. There is not opening and no visible lock. The locking mechanism on a Japanese trick box is designed like a puzzle. The wooden boxes feature moving parts. These movable parts are hidden among the geometric patterns on the box. One has to slide, push, pull or lift certain sections of the box to unlock it. However, it must follow a specific pattern or sequence. If you don’t follow a proper pattern, you will not be able to open the box. A few dispenses with the idea of sliding panels to gain access to the contents of the box. You may simply have to press in selected areas. Others are designed like an interlocking burr puzzle.

Limited Edition 4 sun 27 step Bird Kagome
Limited Edition 4 sun 27 step Bird Kagome from
How many moves will you have to make to open a box? Well, that varies from box to box. While a few get the job done in a matter of two steps others might need 1500. Thus, using a Japanese trick box is as good as using a high-security coded lock. Trying to open a box needs that you think outside of the box. The directions to open the box are provided with the box.

Design and Construction

It starts with handpicking the wood to ensure only the highest quality followed by drying. The artisans do both personally. After that, the wood pieces are then planed and arranged to form a puzzle. The size of a Japanese trick box is measured in “Suns”. That is 3.09 centimetres or 1.22 inches. The boxes were as large as 5 and 6 suns.

The Apothecary Puzzle Chest

There are different types of marquetry or woodwork used to decorate the boxes. While Yosegi is most common, there are others such as Saya, Kuroasa, Kiasa, Akaasa and Hineri. The Yosegi-Zaiku was created by Mr Ishikawa. Zougan, another type of marquetry involves cutting and piecing together wood strips to for a picture.

None of the wood strips used in making the mosaic is artificially coloured. The local craftsmen use naturally coloured wood varieties. For instance, white wood is obtained from Aohada and Dogwood trees while a darker black variety is sourced from the Katsura Jindai trees. Puzzle boxes that have pictures on their tops and bottoms are referred to as Zougan puzzle boxes.

How to look after your Trick boxes?

Wood is affected by fluctuations in temperature. It expands in summer making the movable pieces tighter while in the winter it contracts making movement easier.
• The boxes should always be kept out of sunlight.
• Do not try to pry open the box with a regular key or any other sharp instrument.
• The box should always be stored in a closed position.
• Always wipe the box for dust with a clean cloth.

Special Trick & Puzzle Boxes

Interest in puzzle boxes developed rapidly in the 1980s by three pioneers of the genre: Akio Kamei in Japan, Trevor Wood in England, and Frank Chambers in Ireland. Worldwide there is a great selection of designers and craftsmen producing puzzle boxes including the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan set up by Akio Kamei, as well as a number of other designers and puzzle makers who produce puzzle boxes across the globe. Occasionally, many of these puzzle makers collaborate on a coordinated puzzle box. Two such collaborations have occurred in the last decade, the first was for ‘The Apothecary Chest’, the brainchild of Robert Yarger, who envisioned the design, orchestrated the collaborations, and ultimately executed the production with Dave Cooper as overall project Co-ordinator and secretary/record keeper for the project.

The Apothecary Chest

The whole of the Apothecary Chest is a puzzle in itself that locks twelve individual hand-crafted puzzle drawers into place, each of which is signed and numbered by an artist. For those not familiar, a piston and gearing mechanism must be manipulated to release the individual puzzles and in some cases, you must use items found inside of a puzzle to make further progress with the Chest or other individual puzzles. The Apothecary Puzzle Chest has an open back so that the solver can appreciate the craftsmanship and mechanics.

Originally, the only way to obtain one of these chests was to be an artist contributing to the project, and none was intended for public sale. By the end of the project, two additional copies were produced and sold at auction to help cover expenses. Each of the artists submitted fifteen identical copies of their own unique puzzle box drawers and in exchange, each received their own copy of the chest. The chest came with a fifteen-page, fully illustrated instruction book.

There were ten craftsmen and twelve participants involved in the project including:

1. Abracadabra by Matthew Dawson
2. Knight vs. Dragon by Robert Yarger
3. Parameter Motion by Kelly Snake
4. Reversal of Fortune by Jeff Aurand
5. A Twist of Fate by David Cooper
6. Trinary Box (Super-Cubi) by Hiroshi Iwahara
7. Now What Box by Peter Hajek
8. Spinnomotto by Stephen Chin
9. Topless Box by Eric Fuller
10. Thick and Thin Garnet by Mark McCallum
11. Ferris’ Puzzle Box by Peter Wiltshire
12. Blocks Away by Ron Locke

The Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest

Jabberwocky Puzzle
Jabberwocky Puzzle
The 2nd, known as the Witzend Puzzle Collective, involved the international collaboration of fifteen of the very best puzzle designers over eighteen months under the leadership of Stephen Miller, to design and produce sets of 13 different puzzle boxes and puzzle locks all mounted in a large puzzle chest known as the ‘Jabberwocky Puzzle’. In this incredible puzzle chest, each of the thirteen different puzzle boxes was all themed to different elements from the stories of Lewis Carroll.

Using BaseCamp, and managed by Steven Miller, the puzzle designers worked in a collaborative way to develop and produce a stunning piece of art. The Jabberwocky consists of a large main chest with an internal jail housing the individual puzzle boxes, a bound book and a Vorpal Sword made by Phil Rayner. The designers involved were:
1. Stephen Chin – Humpty Dumpty
2. Gary Foshee – King of Hearts
3. Peter Hajek – Father William
4. Shane Hales – Lock and Key
5. Neil Hutchinson – Eat Me
6. You Kakuda – Cheshire Cat
7. Perry McDaniel – Rose Tree
8. Simon Nightingale – The Mouse’s Tale
9. Kelly Snake – There Goes Bill
10. Kagen Sound – Mad Hatter
11. Mike Toulouzas – Queen of Hearts
12. Peter Wiltshire – Down the Rabbit Hole
13. Robert Yarger – Late for Tea
14. Brian Young – Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
15. Stephen Miller – Jabberwocky

Incredible Puzzle Box Designers

Akio Kamei

Akio Kamei is the most famous designer of modern ‘trick’ puzzle boxes (termed ‘Karakuri’). His boxes often incorporate a great variety of different mechanisms including hidden magnets, sliding pins, etc. Akio Kamei’s beautiful work is produced in extremely limited quantities from a variety of Japanese woods from the Link: Kamei’s website. His work is also available at the Karakuri creation group, a group that started as Akio Kamei’s fan club. Link:

Kagen Sound

Kagen Sound (Kagen Schaefer) is a highly sought after puzzle box designer/craftsman and mathematician living in Denver, Colorado whose work often features mathematical or patterned puzzles with secret compartments. A unique talent, Kagen has won awards in the annual Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition on multiple occasions, including the first puzzle to win two awards in the same competition (Puzzler’s Award and the Jury First prize for the ‘BlockBox’ that requires the user to make more than 80 ‘moves’). At the 25th anniversary convention of The Association of Game & Puzzle Collectors (AGPC) in Providence, Rhode Island, on 24 April 2009, Kagen was presented with the Sam Loyd Award for mechanical puzzle excellence by Jerry Slocum. Kagen also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Mad Hatter’.

Robert Yarger

Robert Yarger (Stickman Puzzles) has been designing and handcrafting his unique style of wooden puzzles from his small woodshop in Edmond, Oklahoma. He is one of a small number of craftsmen worldwide that pursue the art of producing wooden puzzle boxes, and his designs are acclaimed among puzzle enthusiasts and art collectors alike. Many of Robert’s mechanical puzzles frequently incorporate wooden gears, levers, cams, and interlocking moving parts, completely out of wood. Check out ‘The Pirate’s Wallet’. Robert also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Late for Tea’. Link:

Robert Yarger

Mike Toulouzas

Mike Toulouzas is an incredible puzzle designer and craftsman from Greece who has produced numerous puzzles that incorporate sophisticated secret opening and incredible sequential discovery mechanisms. Mike Toulouzas creations are incredibly popular with puzzle collectors and over the last decade, he has produced some of the most collectable mechanical puzzles in the world. Mike’s entries in the annual Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition from 2002 until the present day are legendary. Puzzles of note include ‘The Vault Puzzle’, ‘Grandma’s Trunk’, ‘The Judge’s Gavel Puzzle’, ‘Xenia Table Puzzlebox’, ‘Toolbox’ and ‘The Rocking Horse Puzzle’ to name but a few. Mike also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Queen of Hearts’. Link:

Brian Young

Brian Young (Mr Puzzle Australia) is a master puzzle designer and craftsman from Tamborine, in Queensland, Australia. He has been making high-quality, perplexing mechanical puzzles since 1993 and collecting puzzles since he was a young boy with a personal collection (approaching 5000 pieces) and is highly respected for his limited edition sequential discovery puzzles. Burrs is a personal favourite and he loves solving them.

Brian is a regular attendee of the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition, winning a top 10 vote in 2017 for his Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest puzzle box ‘Tweedledum and Tweedledee’, first prize for his ‘Houdini’s Torture Cell’ in 2012 and a Grand Prize in 2015 for ‘Big Ben’ co-designed with John Moores and Junichi Yananose. In 2007, Brian and his wife Sue helped organise the 27th International Puzzle Party in the Gold Coast. Link:

Perry McDaniel

Perry McDaniel in a highly respected puzzle box and mechanical puzzle designer and craftsman from the USA who produces puzzle box designs with ever more devious internal locking mechanisms in limited quantities. He started developing puzzle boxes in 1994, when puzzle designers Robert and Norman Sandfield, approached him with a commission to produce a puzzle box. Using his visualisation skills as an illustrator Perry developed the ‘Sandfield Joint Puzzle’ and a journey creating ever more complex and decorative joints and boxes. Check out his beautiful Sharpen your Wits. Perry also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Rose Tree’.

Eric Fuller

Eric Fuller is a prominent and popular mechanical puzzle and puzzle box maker, who produces highly prized and collectable puzzles of his own and other design. Many of Eric Fuller’s puzzles can be found on his great website and he continues to produce handcrafted puzzles from his workshop. In 20018 at Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition (IPP28) in Prague, Czech Republic, Eric won first prize for his incredible ‘Irmo Box’.

Mark McCallum

Mark is a mechanical engineer and retired, highly sought after puzzle maker from Oklahoma, the USA. He is known for producing precise geometric assembly puzzles and his recreations of classics, using fine exotic woods. He has produced nearly every puzzle in Stewart’ Coffins books and the beautiful puzzle box ‘Thick and Thin Garnet’ to house a geometric puzzle in the Apothecary Chest.

The Apothecary Chest-TheMetagrobologist

Ron Locke

The late Ron Locke was an artist, musician, craftsman and puzzle designer/collector from Maine, USA. He produced a range of clever and beautiful puzzle boxes and mechanical puzzles in limited quantities that are highly prized. Ron also worked alongside other designers on the Apothecary Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Blocks Away’.

David Cooper

Dave Cooper is an engineer, craftsman and puzzle designer/collector from Queensland, Australia who has produced a number of unique puzzles including the Twist of Fate puzzle within the fabulous Apothecary Puzzle Chest. He inherited the disease ‘puzzle-itis’ from his Grandfather and now has over 900 individual puzzles and puzzle boxes in his personal collection, and has been ‘in the game’ for over 48 years. As a child, he would get puzzles from his Grandfather, and Mother for Christmas and Birthdays. He has several puzzles that originate back to before the 1900s. Dave also worked alongside other designers on the Apothecary Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Twist of Fate’.

Matthew Dawson

Matthew Dawson is puzzle box collector and puzzle designer from Houston, the USA who has created a number of highly collectable puzzle boxes with extremely ingenious clever mechanisms. Matt has worked on a number of puzzle collaborations with designer and craftsman puzzle Makishi, Kelly Snake and Robert Yarger.

Simon Nightingale

Dr Simon Nightingale is a semi-retired consultant clinical neurologist and humanist. He is a keen second generation metagrobologist (his father Bill had started their collection of over 1000 puzzles many years ago) and an award-winning designer of unique mechanical puzzles. He is a regular attendee of IPP, DCD, MPP and Gathering for Gardner events, and given lectures on the nature of puzzles, ah-ha! moments, sketching and their insights into the human psyche. Simon won the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition Puzzlers’ Award for his ‘One Piece Packing Puzzle’ in 2001 and again in 2011. He has received numerous honourable Mentions, in 2009, 2010, 2015 and in 2014 won the Jury Grand Prize for his ‘Six Locks: Two Keys’. Simon worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Mouses Tale’.

Kathleen Malcolmson

A woodworker and puzzle box designer resides in Houston, Texas, USA. She produces beautiful limited edition Japanese style puzzle boxes with unique mechanisms of her own design and also for other designers including Robert Sandfield. Check out some of her outstanding craftsmanship on Kathleen’s ’16 Move Puzzle Box’ on her website (currently offline).

Ferris Box-Peter Wiltshire-TheMetagrobologist

Peter Wiltshire

Peter Wiltshire is an immensely talented puzzle craftsman, puzzle collector and designer from Ontario, Canada. He has a fascination with magic, and his love of mechanical puzzles grew from that interest. His ‘Ferris’ Box’ was entered in the 2012 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition and went on to win a Jury First Prize. Look out for his beautiful puzzle, ‘Open for Business’ designed to store business cards. Peter also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’.

Jeffery Aurand

Jeffrey Aurand is a puzzle designer and craftsman who resides in Rochester, NY. He has had a lifelong interest in both puzzles and woodworking. He was influenced to start collecting and designing puzzles after spending time enjoying the puzzle collection of his good friend, Dr James Strayer. Jeffery Aurand has produced a number of unique puzzle boxes including the ‘Trojan Lobster’ and ‘Monhegan Sinpossible’.

Trevor Wood

Trevor Wood is a retired clinical nurse and puzzle designer and craftsman living in England. His woodworking expertise is among the very best and his beautiful puzzles produced in very limited quantities, now find themselves quickly in private collections. See the ‘Belgium Chocolate Box’ to the right. Link: See for a gallery of his puzzles.

Neil Hutchison

Neil Hutchison is a Scottish software developer and puzzle collector from Michigan, the USA who has been designing and building his own mechanical puzzles and puzzle boxes since 2010. He produced the ‘Juggling Box #1’ in 2012 and in 2015 was commissioned to produce the ‘Tinker Puzzle Box’ along with the artist Robert Yarger. Neils puzzles are produced like many artisans in limited quantities. He also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Humpty Dumpty’. Link:

The Tinker Puzzle Box by Robert Yarger and Neil Hutchison.
The Tinker Puzzle Box by Robert Yarger and Neil Hutchison.

Shane Hales

Shane Hales is an English puzzle lock designer and Master Carpenter and craftsman. Well regarded for his incredible puzzle locks, Shane has also begun to develop some fantastic puzzle boxes including a collaboration with Robert Yarger in 2016 on the ‘Dark Star’ and more recently on the Jabberwocky Project with ‘Eat Me’.

An incredible talent, we are still waiting for another batch of the ‘Viper’ (having been bit many times at an MPP event) to share with our students. Link:

Phil Tomlinson

Phil Tomlinson of WolfAngel Studios is an experienced woodworker with 35 years of experience in furniture making and woodworking from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. He now produces gorgeous limited edition puzzle boxes with unusual mechanisms as well as magnificent puzzle cabinets with integrated lighting and temperature/humidity sensors. Check out this link for more great pictures of the cabinet. Look out for his amazing ‘Don’t Shout Box’ and ‘Always Empty Box’.

Kelly Snache

Kelly Snache is a Native American woodworking artist and puzzle box designer and craftsman from Georgina Island, Ontario whose passion for the unique is vividly seen in his creations. Kelly’s unique style sees him create beautiful and innovative designs from recycled materials, creating value from where there was perceived to be none. To Kelly, building heirloom quality designs from recycled wood meant reducing the amount of wood waste going to the landfill for another 100 years or more. He has produced an amazing array of boxes including the ‘Crypsis’ (a personal favourite) and ‘Granny’s Tea Box’. Kelly also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing ‘There Goes Bill’. Link: (Currently unavailable).

Jesse Born

Pi-Puzzle-Jessie-BornJesse Born designs and builds magnificent handcrafted showpiece Secret Opening Boxes from his workshop on the Black River Canal in New York, United States. He has recently produced a stunning puzzle box known as the ‘Pi puzzle’. Head over to his site to see the incredible puzzle. Link:

Randal Gatewood

The late Randal Gatewood from Quagmire Puzzles, Dallas, Texas is another master craftsman who created unique, complex, beautiful Puzzle Boxes. His last puzzle the ‘Yin-Yang Master Puzzlebox’ (completed after his death with Robert Yarger) is a poignant collaboration that celebrates his skills as an artist. Check out his ‘Double Crossed Puzzle Box’ that was entered into the 2004 (IPP24) Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.

Tracy Wood Clemons

Tracy Wood Clemons a woodworker specialising in puzzle box designing and building from Rochester, New York. She has been crafting handmade wood-worked puzzle boxes for the last two years. She produces and sells a line of her own original puzzle boxes from a commission. See an exclusive interview with Tracy on TheMetagrobologist.

Stephen Chin

Stephen Chin (Chinnomotto), is an Australia Dentist, mechanical puzzle designer and manufacturer from Sydney. He is well known as a skilled woodworker and woodturner, as well as a wizard with the lathe and is the creator of numerous wooden interlocking and coordinate motion puzzles that are real works of art. Stephen’s puzzles are regularly entered into the IPP Design Competition with many receiving top ten awards.

Stephen worked alongside Robert Yarger and 10 other contributors to produce the incredible Apothecary Chest, the culmination of a three-year collaboration. His contribution was a puzzle known as ‘Spinnomotto’. Stephen also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Humpty Dumpty’.

Frank Chambers

Frank Chambers is a puzzle designer and craftsman from Ireland who designs and makes unusual puzzle boxes cut and machined from Corian (artificial stone) and brass. Look for the ‘Toothpick Safe’ and also the ‘Matchbox’ created with Peter Hajek, Frank Chambers and Ken Stevens.

Gary Foshee

Gary Foshee is a recreational mathematician, puzzle collector and designer from Issaquah, Seattle. Over the last two decades, he has produced a collection of unusual, highly collectable tricky impossible objects including the popular Lunatic Lock. Gary worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘King of Hearts’.

Peter Hajek

Peter Hajek is an English puzzle box artist, designer and craftsman who has produced numerous puzzles including 2D tray packing puzzles and puzzle boxes such as the ‘How Box’ which incorporates secret opening and sequential discovery mechanisms. Peter worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing ‘Father William’.

Craig Thibodeau

Craig Thibodeau designs and builds privately commissioned contemporary custom furniture for individual clients and designers from a workshop in San Diego, Ca. His highly complex furniture pieces incorporate automated mechanical movement and puzzle mechanisms built into the furniture itself. His ‘Automaton Table’ (a puzzle box of exquisite craftsmanship and beauty, containing many secret compartments) won the ‘VeneerTech Craftsman’s Challenge’ Grand Prize in 2016.

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller is a puzzle collector and puzzle designer/craftsman from England. He is the proprietor of Pyro Puzzles that produce a series of superb mechanical puzzles such as the ”Devilish Dice’, ‘Nutty Bolt No.1′ and ”Nutty Bolt No.2’ as well as anodised aluminium ‘Fire’ puzzles’. Steve hosts top secret cryptic treasure hunts across the UK and led the Witzend Puzzle Collective, to produce the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest. Link:

Random Netzley

Random Netzley of Random Woodworking in the USA is a woodworker and puzzle box designer who produces limited edition exotic wood puzzle boxes. His Boxed In is highly prized.

Thomas Cummings

Thomas Cummings is a craftsman and puzzle box designer from Fannin County, Georgia, the United States. He has been making puzzle boxes for his family and friends for many years using devious secret spaces, hidden panels and mechanisms. He sells his puzzles via his EdenWorkx site on Etsy.

Sandwich Puzzle Box-Bill Sheckels-TheMetagrobologist

Bill Sheckels

Bill Sheckels has been designing and building fine custom furniture since the mid 1970’s, and has had his own full-time shop since the mid 1980’s. He trained as a furniture designer in Denmark and more recently started to develop mechanical puzzles and puzzle boxes from his business ‘BlackdogPuzzleWorks’. Link:

Jean Claude Constantin

Jean Claude Constantin from Nuremberg, Germany has produced a number of mass-produced puzzle boxes that are popular with puzzle enthusiasts and ideal for beginners. Check out his ‘Loopybox’, ‘Nagel Trick Box’, ‘Beziehungskiste’ and ‘Bee Box’.

Ryan Calme

Ryan Calme is a Software Development Engineer from Colorado, the USA. He has previously created an incredibly intricate and sophisticated safe made of wood as a gift on Father’s Day. You can find all the files to build your own on GitHub if you are a brainiac like Ryan.

Jonathan McCabe

Jonathan McCabe was a Cleverwood craftsman who produced a number of rare limited edition puzzle boxes including the ‘Tumbler Box’ with an interesting mechanism.

Eric Kelsic

Eric Kelsic is a former designer/craftsman of puzzle boxes at Cleverwood from Cambridge, Massachusetts, the USA. He produced a number of limited edition exotic wood puzzle boxes including the ‘Repeating Box’.

Benno de Grote

Benno de Grote at Bennoboxes has created numerous puzzle boxes with hidden locking mechanisms’. He has been designing and making puzzle boxes since he was 9 years old. On his website, he also offers plans on how to make your own puzzle boxes. Check out his page to learn more about his ‘Answer box’, ‘Companion Cube’, ‘Cross Box’ and ‘Dice Box.

Franco Rocco

Franco Rocco is an Italian architect, designer and puzzle maker who produces incredible limited edition puzzle boxes that straddled the line between being a sculpture, a game and a puzzle. His ‘Imaginario Lunare’ is a stunning work of art. Link:

Eric Krusentjerna

Eric Krusen is the designer & manufacturer living in Oregon, the USA of the ‘Magic Billet Box’, a machined aluminium puzzle box incorporating hidden magnets. Check out the link here at (currently unavailable).

Hiroshi Iwahara

Hiroshi Iwahara is an incredibly prolific Japanese Karakuri Box craftsman and puzzle designer who has produced a large number of popular and award-winning puzzles such as ‘Dream of Zebra’, ‘Super-CUBI’ and the ‘Pineapple Secret’. Hiroshi Iwahara is a member of the Karakuri Creation Group.

Hiroyuki Oka

Hiroyuki Oka is a talented puzzle Japanese puzzle box designer/craftsman who has produced some truly wonderful puzzles. He is a member of the Karakuri Creation Group. Lookout for his Checked Secret Box.

Eric Arcese

Eric Arcese is a self-taught, traditional woodworker, who resides in rural New York. He holds a masters degree in fine arts and started his artistic career making sign-like constructions, incorporating optical art and galvanized materials. His puzzle boxes are quite similar to that of a jigsaw puzzle with swivel parts. Link:

Yoh Kakuda

Yoh Kakuda is a Japanese puzzle box artist, designer and craftsman who has produced a great number of marvellously handcrafted wooden puzzle boxes for the Karakuri Creation Group. Look out for the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail in this artists work at the Karakuri Creation Group website including ‘Anteater’ and ‘Tin Woodman’. Yoh also worked alongside other designers on the Jabberwocky Puzzle Chest producing the ‘Cheshire Cat’.

Tatuo Miyamoto

Tatsuo Miyamoto is a Japanese puzzle box designer and craftsman who has won various awards. He has produced a great number of marvellously handcrafted wooden puzzle boxes for the Karakuri Creation Group. Lookout for his work at the Karakuri Creation Group website.

Kenji Nakazato

Kenji Nakazato is a puzzle box designer in Hakone, Japan who owns Izumiya Inc. Izumiya Company, one of the few leaders in the world produces a wide array of these wonderful works of art and intrigue from Kanagawa-ken Hakone town, Near Lake Ashi in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Kenji produces traditional Hakone parquetry and other kinds of Japanese wood crafts.
Lookout for his beautiful ‘Box with a Tree’. Link: and

John Berkeley

John Berkeley is a Woodturner and teacher who has produced a number of clever puzzle and puzzle box projects, that combine beauty with a brain-teasing twist. Link:

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