This Puzzle Box Forged Completely Made From Metal is Incredible

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Puzzle Box

Coffer is an enthusiastic project by metalsmith Seth Gould that took 2 years to develop. Made from wrought iron, pure iron, steel, and brass; every part of this puzzle box was handmade by Gould down to the screws and springs.

Gould, who received his BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing Design, started working on the Coffer during the first year of his residency at the Penland School of Craft.

In the beautifully shot movie below by Jesse Beecher, you can see just how beautiful this puzzle box really is. For a full summary of the project visit SethGould.


The Coffer was made primarily through handwork at the forge and at the bench. The majority of pieces, including the bolts, levers, and staples, are made from wrought iron, a material I use primarily for its working properties (enjoyable to forge and file). Wrought iron is no longer manufactured, so each piece needed to be forged from salvaged material. The forging is done using a coal forge, hammer, anvil, and power hammer. Once the pieces are forged as close to their finished shape as possible, I move to the bench to refine the surface and shape with a file. The final touch is a bit of file embellishment.

Other major components of the Coffer include the springs, screws, keys, and molding. Each screw is made through a combination of machine and handwork. The springs are made from high carbon steel that I polish, wrap, heat treat, and polish again. The keys are each fabricated out of three pieces. The bows are wrapped and forge welded, and the bits forged from solid material. The stem of the hollow key (and its corresponding barrel) is chased cold to achieve its concave-triangular shape. The molding that frames the outside panels was made using a die specifically made to forge lengths of wrought iron under the power hammer. It was then filed, mitered, and riveted in place. Although the Coffer was engineered and made with precise tolerances, I consider the creation of the piece to be quite organic. Each piece is made to fit the one before it, and each screw is made for its place. This is the way pre-industrial revolution locks (and many other objects) were made and I choose to work in this manner not because it is “period appropriate” because it makes sense for this type of construction and because I find it extremely enjoyable.

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