How to make a music box mechanism

Written by laura catella
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How to make a music box mechanism
Make a music box truly unique with your own music mechanism. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Most people make their own music boxes by purchasing a kit or by affixing a pre-made music mechanism to their pre-made box. To make a truly one-of-a-kind music box, you can create your own mechanism that plays music. The result will be something unique and special for yourself or a loved one -- not just a beautiful box, but a hand-created piece of music as well.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wooden dowel that will fit into your music box
  • Metal rod that is 1/4th the size of the dowel
  • 4 small nails that will fit into the dowel
  • Hacksaw blades
  • Hammer
  • Hot glue gun

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  1. 1

    Place the wooden dowel on your workspace so it stands upright.

  2. 2

    Using the hot glue gun, attach the small metal rod to the top of the wooden dowel. This rod will serve as the handle that you will rotate to work your music mechanism. Allow 4 to 5 hours for your materials to dry and properly adhere to one another.

  3. 3

    Lay the wooden dowel so that it can roll on your workspace. Mark an area that is approximately 1/2 inch up from the bottom end of the dowel by drawing a line around the dowel. Repeat this process along the dowel, making your lines 1/2 inch apart.

  4. 4

    Hammer the 4 small nails along the lines you have drawn on the dowel, making sure that each nail is both horizontally and vertically separated from the others by at least 1/2 inch. Upon completion of the mechanism, these nails will strike hacksaw blades to create sound.

  5. 5

    Affix the hacksaw blades to the inside of your music box using the hot glue gun. Hacksaw blades can be found at your local hardware store and come in a variety of sizes. This is where you can get creative. The hacksaw blades will be struck by the nails that were attached to the dowel to create sounds. The size of the hacksaw blade will determine the pitch of the sound. To compose your melody, place hacksaw blades of varying lengths into different orders, then strike them with a nail until you find a sequence you like. Then, attach the blades to the interior of your music box in the proper order.

  6. 6

    Drill a hole into your music box that will allow the handle that was attached to the dowel to protrude through.

  7. 7

    Place the dowel in the box so that when the handle is rotated from the outside, the dowel will spin and the nails will strike the hacksaw blades.

  8. 8

    Affix the dowel to the music box by securely fitting the dowel into the circle you drilled in Step 6.

  9. 9

    Rotate the metal handle of the dowel to listen to your created melody.

Tips and warnings

  • To create more complex melodies, add more nails to your dowel and hacksaw blades to the interior of your music box.

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