MAKE Volume 26: Combination Lock Made from Money

MAKE Volume 26: Combination Lock Made from Money

MAKE Magazine Make Money Column
In each issue of MAKE magazine (since Volume 10), columnist Tom Parker offers a new installation of Make Money, where he shows you examples of how “Sometimes it costs more to buy it than to make it from the money itself.” Tom has covered mouse traps to eye glasses to an abacus, and in the latest issue, Volume 26, he’s outdone himself with an awesomely complex combination lock made out of 5 quarters, 2 half-dollars, and a penny (plus an assortment of scrap metal, nuts, and bolts. A combination drawer lock bought online can run between $15 and $20, but Tom’s money-made version came out to about $2.26. The following images from the column show a head-on view, disassembled view, and a side view:

Make Money Combination Lock Front View

Make Money Combination Lock Disassembled

Make Money Combination Lock Side View

Check out the full details in the Tom’s column on pages 146 and 147 of MAKE Volume 26. Subscribers, read it now online in the digital edition.


From the Pages of MAKE:
MAKE Volume 26: Karts & Wheels
Garage go-kart building is a time-honored tradition for DIYers, In this issue of MAKE, we’ll show you how to build wheeled wonders that’ll have you and the kids racing around the neighborhood in epic DIY style. Build a longboard skateboard by bending plywood and build a crazy go-kart driven by a pair of battery-powered drills. Put a mini gasoline engine on a bicycle. And construct an amazing wind-powered cart that can outrun a tailwind. Plus you’ll learn how to build the winning vehicle from our online Karts and Wheels contest! In addition to karts, you’ll find plenty of other projects that only MAKE can offer!


14 thoughts on “MAKE Volume 26: Combination Lock Made from Money

  1. Robert K says:

    Nicely done for this project, explains how a dial combination works very well. I might just have to give it a try for a lock box. Or just print out another version of the one I did.

  2. Mac Millan says:

    Very impressive, though I do wonder about the legality of destroying currency…

    1. Anonymous says:

      Destroying US coins or currency is not illegal (but it is your loss)

      Altering (defacing) US coins or currency and passing it off as being worth more than its [original] face value will bring the Secret Service to your door.

      It is also illegal to recover the metal from coins to sell as scrap (think copper pennies minted before 1982 which, today, contain more than $0.01 worth of copper).

  3. collegiatehandy says:

     This has the added benefit of monetary deflation, so what ever you store in your lock box becomes slightly more valuable!

    I just wish someone would sell readily available, disks of inexpensive metal with holes already drilled in them. 

    1. Mac Millan says:

       Fender washers?

  4. johnright says:

    here is more 

  5. johnright says:

    here is more 

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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