Young children love to play with a jack in the box, a simple toy in which a clown or other figure pops out of his box after turning a crank. This can be made easily using only a few materials.
In order to build a jack in the box, gather all necessary materials before beginning. Builders can purchase a jack-in-the-box kit online.
It is easiest to purchase a wooden box that is already put together, although some people enjoy making the box themselves. To make a wooden box, gather four pieces of wood that are approximately the same size and another two pieces of wood that are large enough to cover the box to make the top and bottom. Take two of the pieces of wood and place them along the sides of the bottom in an L shape, then use nails or wooden dowels to affix them to the box bottom. Do the same with the other two pieces of wood. Do not attach the top yet; it must remain unattached to put hinges in later. Whether the aspiring jack-in-the-box builder makes the box himself or buys it pre-made, it is important to consider the size of the box. The box must be large enough to accommodate the clown doll, without being too roomy.
The fun of the jack in the box comes from making the music play before the jack jumps out. The proper type of music box for this project is crank operated.
Latch and Spring
The jack in the box requires a latch, which is placed on the inside of the cover and a spring, which is affixed to the jack itself. The latch should have an arm that releases it, which will be attached to the crank so that the box opens at the correct time. The spring allows the jack to jump up when the latch opens.
No jack in the box is complete without the jack. Purchase a doll of appropriate size that has a flat bottom that can be affixed to a spring. Some builders prefer to purchase a jack-in-the-box kit that contains all of these parts. This can be easier than searching for each part individually.
Assembling the Jack in the Box
Once all of the necessary materials have been gathered, it is time to put them all together.
Hinge the Top of the Box
Some pre-made boxes already come with a hinged top. Otherwise, builders will have to install the hinges themselves. Screw the hinges to the top and back of the box, then open and close the box to ensure the hinges are installed correctly. They may need to be tightened or loosened to make the box open correctly.
Install the Music Box
The builder must decide where to place the crank. Normally, this is placed on one side of the box, at a location comfortable for the user. The builder must drill a hole large enough for the crank to fit through. Push the crank through the hole and affix the music box to the inside of the box with screws or bolts.
Place the Latch
The builder places a latch on the inside of the box lid. The latch should hold the lid securely in place until it is released. To ensure this, the builder must install an arm for the latch to catch onto. One end of the arm slips into the latch, while the other end attaches to the music box, so that the box will open when the crank is turned a certain number of times.
Attach the Doll
The final step is to attach the jack to the box so that it will pop up at the proper time. Attach a spring to the bottom of the doll and attach the other end of the spring to the box bottom. Test the box to make sure it works properly, and adjusts the spring as needed so the jack jumps up when the box opens. Now the jack in the box is ready for children to play with. Some builders like to paint the box or repair scratches in the wood to make it more visually appealing.