Simple Vault Mechanism

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About: Most of the things I build usually relate to either astronomy, physics or woodworking in general.

Sometimes, a simple latch just won't do. In a recent project, I had to design a circular lid that would lock from the inside. However, as I didn't want any hardware showing on the outside of the lid, I needed to keep all the moving parts inside. Using this vault-like mechanism has the advantage of being easy to build if you have access to a laser cutter.

Supplies:

Step 1: Materials & Tools

You will only need a few common items to build this lock.

  • 1/4" Birch Plywood
  • 4 small screws
  • 1/4" dowel
  • Wood glue
  • You preferred wood finish (I used wipe-on polyurethane)

Even though, this mechanism can be built with traditional tools, it will be way easier if you have access to a laser cutter and a drill.

Step 2: The Lid

The diameter of the lid is up to you. It doesn't even have to be a circle as long as the arms of the lock still protrude when they are in the "locked" position.

A smaller circle is cut in the centre of the lid. This part, when rotated will give motion to the arms of the lock. In my design, this circle is hollow because I needed to accommodate room for a threaded rod.

Step 3: The Arms

The arms of the lock will slide on a 1/4" dowel. The length of the hollow part of the arms dictates how far these will travel outwards of the lid. Make it longer if you need a longer travel.

Step 4: The Axis

4 hole pockets are drilled on the inside of the lid. Dowels are glued in place. 4 caps are laser cut and drilled halfway through. These will keep the arms in place.

Step 5: Arms Assembly

The arms are screwed on the rotating centre. You can now fit the whole assembly on the inside of the lid, making sure that the axis go inside the arms pockets.

Step 6: The Lid Handle

To rotate the centre of your lid, you will need a handle. I decided to cut a circle slightly larger than the rotating part and glue those 2 together. The fact that the handle is larger prevents the central ring from being pushed through the lid.

Step 7: Finishing

In my project, I use the lid to close the opening of my telescope. As the lid does not have any support, I added some small tabs on the side to make it flush with the end of the tube. It also prevents the whole lid from spinning when rotating the centre part.

If you want to protect the wood from stains and humidity, you can apply a few coats of polyurethane varnish or some linseed oil. As birch doesn't stain very well, I decided to go with a clear finish.

Step 8: The Result

This mechanism is very basic and can be improved on many aspects. However, it is a good starting point for more complex movements. It is also a good project if you are new to laser cutting as almost all the parts can be cut from a small piece of plywood.

If you want to build your own, I am providing an SVG file of the whole mechanism. Have fun with it and please let me know if you've successfully built your own!

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55 Discussions

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Snazzie Designz

23 days ago

Thank you so, so much for the marvellous Instructable. I did a Harry Potter themed wood carving which lights up at night. I needed a cover for the back for the batteries that I could remove and replace without having to take the back covers off. I wanted the battery cover to look like the door to the chamber of secrets, so I cut out a snake knot door and added it to a slight variation on your design above and it worked perfectly. Now I can remove the back by twisting and lifting it off, and replace it and lock it back into place with a twist. Marvellous!

I don't have a laser cutter by the way, so I used a scroll saw, and I used ice lolly sticks for the arms. It worked perfectly.

You can find details of this back cover and the entire carving on my website here if you're interested.

http://wordpress.snazziedesignz.com/wood-carving/h...

You can see video clips of the battery cover working on youTube here:





Thanks so much again.

Harry_Potter_Carving_Outside_Back_Cover.pngHarry_Potter_Carving_Back_Battery_Cover.pngHarry_Potter_Carving_Finished.png
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ThomasJ1Snazzie Designz

Reply 23 days ago

Wow, that carving is quite a piece of art!! So much works involved.. I like your variation, it looks really good.

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Snazzie DesignzThomasJ1

Reply 23 days ago

That's so nice of you. Thanks a million. :) Yeah it took two years to make! Your vault mechanism is brilliant because it allowed me to have an unhinged circular door which is exactly what I needed. I've been looking at some of your other Instructables and they're amazing and made with such precision.

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cnaughtin

2 years ago

Wonderful 'ible!!! One comment - the side walls of the peg slots look awfully thin. The quantity of operating cycles this item would experience in its lifetime might be so small that it wouldn't matter, but simply doubling the thickness would make a huge difference for potential wear problems and would make it appear a bit more solid. Operation cycles could be surprisingly high if it had a long lifetime.

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ThomasJ1cnaughtin

Reply 2 years ago

You're absolutely right. In my case, there's not much stress applied to it as it serves as a cap for my telescope. But it you use it for a door, you might want to enlarge these walls. Also, the peg caps can be made larger to cover the entire slot. That way the arms won't be bending on that weaker spot much when someone's pulling on the door.

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andrewty

2 years ago

Please do a couple of instructables for telescope making.

Can't get the reply to work so adding comment here instead.

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ThomasJ1andrewty

Reply 2 years ago

I have a few astronomy related Instructables coming up. In case you missed it, here's the one about the telescope https://www.instructables.com/id/Wooden-Telescope-Part-1-The-Mirror/

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ivandrake

2 years ago

This is exactly what I was thinking of using for a box project I'm planning. However, I'd like to cover the mechanisms to protect them from damage by the contents. Any suggestions? I was thinking a kind of "shell", like a hollowed out board covering the whole thing or a framework just to support a veneer, unless there's a better option.

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ThomasJ1ivandrake

Reply 2 years ago

A plexiglass panel can be a good option if you want to protect the moving parts while keeping it visible.

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CarlW21ivandrake

Reply 2 years ago

A flat round piece glued to the dowel caps in step five?

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ivandrakeCarlW21

Reply 2 years ago

Ah, yeah, that's pretty much what I was thinking. And I forgot to mention that my plan is for a square lid on a cubic box.

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diy_bloke

2 years ago

looks great. May use this in something I am making

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ThomasJ1diy_bloke

Reply 2 years ago

Great, post a picture once it's finished :)

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JGDean

2 years ago

I like your application as well as your execution, but it's not a new concept. Most garage doors use a similar method of locking, rotating two bars into holes in opposite sides of the door. Similar two-, three- and four-point latches have been used on security doors and odd-shaped doors (like the round ones seen in The Hobbit) for many years.One of the nice things about them is that they don't have to be in any particular position on the door - just change the lengths of the bolts..

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ThomasJ1JGDean

Reply 2 years ago

You're right, this mechanism has been in use for a while. I thought I would make an Instructable to share the concept with other makers. Thanks for mentioning the fact that the rotating part doesn't need to be in the center.

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StephanP1

2 years ago

Cool project. This is exactly what I was looking for. I will build one, but without a Lasercutter. If it is done, I post a picture here. Thank you for sharing your idea!

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ThomasJ1StephanP1

Reply 2 years ago

Glad you like it. Of course you can make one without the laser cutter. It just makes things quicker if you have access to one.