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David Todd
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Kennedy's "Mystery Box".
It's a clever prop, but one thing dissatisfied me. In the ad copy for the "Mystery Box" it says that the box "may be handled by the spectator and they will not discover the secret."

This is probably true in most cases, but I always think of the worst-case-scenario and in this case the worst that could happen is some grabby person (kid or adult...... they all seem to be "grabby" these days) could discover the gaff by a little probing around the top edges of the box with their fingers.

The edge of the gaff is slightly raised and visible if one is really looking for something "tricky".

I find that the gaff can be dislodged if the fingers are brushed across the top edge of the box at a certain angle. I was able to do this easily just by handling the box as if I were an overly curious spectator putting
"heat" on the box.

My solution is to put a slight lip around the top edge of the box which makes it impossible for probing fingers to brush across the gaff. I purchased some Midwest Hobby Aircraft Plywood.

This stuff is a thin veneer used for making models. It is only 1/64" (0.4 mm) thick.
You can easily cut it with a sharp Exacto knife (use a brand new, sharp blade)

Measure a piece that is the exact size of the outside dimensions of the "Mystery Box" and then use a ruler to rule an inside rectangular opening that will extend 1/32" more than the present opening of the box.

The edge of the "Mystery Box" is 8/32" wide, so the lip you are making will extend inwards over the edge of the box by 1/32" on each side. After you have *carefully* measured this and lightly drawn the lines with pencil on the piece of wood veneer, use the Exacto knife (with a straight edge/ruler guide) to *carefully* cut out the middle rectangle shape.

Make the cuts slowly and precisely using the straight edge. If you mess up on the first one, do another. It must be perfectly cut, with straight edges on the outside and inside.

You'll be left with a rectangular "window" that will fit perfectly over the top opening of the "Mystery Box". After you have cut-out the piece of veneer *gently* sandpaper the inside and outside edges. Use the sandpaper to slightly round-off the corners.

Then squeeze out a thin layer of wood glue around the top edge of the "Mystery Box" (don't let it ooze over into the inside of the box or get on the gaff). Press down your veneer "window" on top of the glued edge of the "Mystery Box" and do a quick check to make sure the edges are aligned and straight.

Make any adjustments while the wood glue is still wet. Let dry for an hour or two. By gluing this little veneer "lip" on the top edge of the "Mystery Box" it is now impossible for anyone to dislodge the gaff with their fingers. (and the sligtly raised edge of the gaff is hidden by the "lip" you have added)

You can find the Midwest Hobby Aircraft wood at most any hobby or craft store. The stock number of the type I used is:

Midwest Birch Plywood Aircraft
1/64" (0.4mm) x 6" x 12,"
0 91157 05120 5

Of course, almost any other type of thin wood veneer would work. You can probably find walnut veneer that is an exact match for the walnut finish of the "Mystery Box".

I left the Midwest Birch Plywood that I used in it's natural color, which is a lighter "blonde" wood color. It looks nice along the top edge of the box contrasted with the rest of the darker walnut finish of the box.

Or the lighter birch finish could be stained with a walnut wood stain to match the finish on the "Mystery Box" if you don't want the contrasting light color along the edge of the box. This is a matter of taste.

Either design works.

I'm uploading a low res. scan of what I'm talking about, in case it isn't clear from the above (sorry about the lousy quality of the photo..... it was a free desktop camera....... you get what you pay for!)

Click on the image link to view the photo.

Click here to view attached image.
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