Cube In a Cube - Puzzler

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Project by Daris posted 11-27-2012 02:54 PM 3362 views 33 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Cube In a Cube - Puzzler
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Cube In a Cube Complete
Recently, I saw a video that someone posted from a local woodworking club that I belong to in Indiana .  It showed how to make a cube in a cube.  At first glance I thought how the heck did someone do that?  It must have been whittled.  Turns out, it’s a really simple trick with a drill press and about 2 minutes of chisel work.  You can make this cube in just a couple of hours.  The next question you may ask is, “what the heck is this thing”?  It’s not a toy, and not quite art?  My best classification is it’s a puzzler.  Both of my kids kept trying to figure out how I got that cube inside the other cube.  Needless to say I had to make two of them.  So if you’re looking for a nice little project here is one to check out. Oh, and if you want to see more pics, a video, and other information on how I made this check out my main entry over at:  Enjoy….!

For the lumber on this one I was able to pick up a scrap piece of untreated 4×4 in a bargain bin at my local Menard’s.  The board was a little dinged up, but as I needed to trim it down to a 3×3 cube  it worked out really well.

  • (1)  3” x 4” x 6’ Pine Board trimmed down to 3”x3”x3”

Milling & Assembly

Cube In a Cube - The Start

It all starts with a block of wood.  To get started I cut a scrap piece of 4×4 wood down to a 3×3 cube.  If you make this take you’re time you’ll want to get this as close to true as possible.

Cube In a Cube Finding Center

After you have your block the first step is to find the true center of one side.  This is easy enough by just drawing an X across the surface.  Again if you make this you’ll want to really make sure this is on the mark.

Cube In a Cube Finding Center Drill

Next up I used a 2” Forstner bit and setup a stop block on my drill press.  I only drilled into the piece about a 1/4”.  This is done so that you can determine what the depth will eventually be.  I set the speed on my drill press to the slowest speed it could go.

Cube In a Cube Marking Depth

After the initial drill take a ruler and line it up with the edge of two lines left from your initial X.  This line will determine the depth of your drill press into the work piece.  You’ll want to set your drill press for a little less than the length.  I set mine at about 1/8” shy of the length.  At this point you’ll also want to mark a small x in 1 corner of each side.  This is done as a guide for when you’re at the drill press to drill in a consistent manner on each side.

Cube In a Cube Drill

With your drill depth set, the next step is to drill into each side of the cube.  You’ll actually start to see the cube inside after a couple passes.

Cube In a Cube Completed Drill

After you have drilled into all six sides of your cube you’ll see the cube inside the cube.  It will still be attached to each of the corners of the inside cube.

Cube In a Cube Chiseling

With a sharp chisel lightly tap away each corner from the cube.  You’ll hear it snap or click as you do each side.


Cube In a Cube Sanding

When it came to finishing this one I used a medium grit sandpaper inside and out of the cube.  Sanding wasn’t too bad, but you have to dig into the cube with some sand paper and go at it.  I then used a lighter grit and broke all the corners by sanding them.  After that I applied a stain and sealer to protect it.



-- Daris, Indianapolis,

14 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

29938 posts in 2508 days

#1 posted 11-27-2012 03:14 PM

Very cool. Thanks for the tutorial!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View hg1027's profile


36 posts in 2273 days

#2 posted 11-27-2012 03:44 PM

Did you sand enough to get rid of the point the forstner bit leaves in the inside cube, or did you just leave it? I’m thinking these would make great stocking stuffers, and an excuse to pick up a new bit.

View ward63's profile


353 posts in 3257 days

#3 posted 11-27-2012 04:01 PM

Great easy and fast project!
Thanks for sharing!!!

View Daris's profile


120 posts in 2444 days

#4 posted 11-27-2012 04:46 PM

hg1027, I didn’t sand the little point out I just left them. I only made 2 for my kids and they could care less. However, if I was going to do what you’re thinking I would have. It wouldn’t have taken too much time for that.

It would be a great stocking stuffer. You can really knock out a lot of these pretty quickly.

-- Daris, Indianapolis,

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3819 days

#5 posted 11-27-2012 04:50 PM

very nice. those are always fun to make.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2346 days

#6 posted 11-27-2012 05:36 PM

This is such an ingenious idea! Thanks for sharing.

View nonickswood's profile


554 posts in 2557 days

#7 posted 11-28-2012 12:08 AM

Very Nice Daris,
And Great Tutorial,
My Son and I made a few of these, we added another Cube.
Now try A Cube in a Cube in a Cube

-- Nick, Virginia,

View Daris's profile


120 posts in 2444 days

#8 posted 11-28-2012 01:19 AM

Oh, good grief Nick…! Hah ha, that’s awesome. I may have to try that.

-- Daris, Indianapolis,

View zayd's profile


2 posts in 2860 days

#9 posted 11-28-2012 03:04 AM

Here’s what I don’t get: given how it’s made, wouldn’t the cube fit through the hole? It looks like it could fit corner-to-corner within the diameter of the hole.



197 posts in 2505 days

#10 posted 11-28-2012 08:21 AM

WOW ! It is almost like a magic trick, till you explain, I was wondering how is it possible and must have been years of practice and skill. Grateful thanks for sharing. I would do one and amaze my little grand daughter soon.


View Knothead62's profile


2596 posts in 3131 days

#11 posted 11-28-2012 12:19 PM

A fellow in our turning club mad one with three cubes. Thanks for the tutorial!

View hg1027's profile


36 posts in 2273 days

#12 posted 12-03-2012 03:15 AM

So I went and grabbed a 2” forstner bit and a Douglas Fir 4×4 (first untreated 4×4 I found at the big box, and I was in a hurry), knocked out a few cubes, and started drilling.

Now I don’t know if it was the bit ($20 might not be enough for a decent 2” forstner bit), the drill press (Ryobi DP121L, benchtop) or the douglas fir, but drilling in the end grain was disgusting. Chipping, binding, squealing, chatter, I had it all. And when I was nearly close enough to the corners to move on to the chisel, the bit caught and broke the inner cube in two pieces.

So, what should I do differently for the next attempt? Find different wood? Order a better bit? Suck it up and do the end grain first? Give everyone cubes without cubes inside and tell them how great it could have been???

View grace123's profile


239 posts in 2932 days

#13 posted 01-08-2013 05:24 PM

I made several of these for stocking stuffers. They were a huge success. Thanks for posting the instructions.

View Sawdustmaker115's profile


306 posts in 1891 days

#14 posted 09-09-2013 01:02 AM

I’m dying to make this, i saw this awhile ago ever since iv been dying to make it i just need to buy a set of forstner bits to which I’m not sure why I’ve never bought any fostner bits in the number of years I’ve been making loads of saw dust. Thanks tons for posting the instructions.

-- Anthony--

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