I had to look up the name for the technique, but it is used to make the faces of puzzle boxes like this one.

A quick search for a youtube video which shows some of the details gives me this one. I barely watched any of it, so cannot vouch for the quality. I just know there was an English dub and sub.

The decorative patterns on each side of the box are formed by taking sticks of various types of wood and standing them on end, bundling them together, then laminate the top and shave off a small layer. Rinse and repeat until you have no more layers available.

Replicating this on a laser cutter by trying to cut small segments and put together a single laminate at a time would be tedious. But you can quite easily cut the long sticks, then assemble those and return to the usual Laminate and shave off the top layer approach. Of course angles are an issue, but once you get a stick thin enough, you could prop it up on an incline inside the Forge and slice an angle through.

The added bonus of the laser is you can cut non-straight lines for each stick, but still coordinate them all to stick together and make solid layers at each depth. Now every layer you cut will look slightly different than the others.


If you want to save some time, you can buy inlay strips:

But the cool thing about the GF, is you can make your own patterns easy…


static page on yosegi Mind altering. Here’s a link for those who won’t watch the video. Thanks @jacobturner for introducing me to a whole new art form. The thin veneer that is shaved off for the top layer is absolutely incredible.


I lived in Okayama for 10 years. There was a local manufacturer of these there. I used to stop by his tiny shop/workroom when i had the chance (it had a lovely view over the Korakuen gardens) and just watch him make one after the other, day in and day out.
Some of them were fiendishly complicated with 4-6 slides required to unlock the compartment.

I never bought one, he would not let me buy the cheap ones (he said they were such poor quality he would feel sorry for me owning one) and i never bought the best of his work (because i am not a millionaire) but it was one of the best of many beautiful memories of the incredible craftsmen Japan has.


I’m going to be in Tokyo with the family later - will keep an eye out. (Family travel suggestions welcome btw). That said, I’ve made this box a few times:

and there are a million more on his page:

many of which are amenable to lasering.


@marmak3261 - I think I have seen competitions for who can create the thinnest veneer shaving with a plane. Just unbelievable stuff.

Well, there is a claim that if you do not climb Mt. Fuji, you will be coming back to Japan later in life. Though Japan is nice enough that is NOT a bad thing, so it is almost a recommendation not to climb Mt. Fuji.

If you are only in the Tokyo area… look for a snow monkey hot springs. There is one fairly close, and it is really interesting (I have a picture somewhere from just AFTER one picked at my hair. Wife was too slow to notice and swing up the camera).

If you are going to travel around Japan, head north to Sapporo and check out the Snow Festival. Though that may not have started yet. Phenomenal sculptures in snow and ice. An absolute must-see for the next Japan trip if needed.


Thanks for sharing @jacobturner , had no idea these existed.
These could probably be adapted to make secret compartments for objects.

1 Like

One of my biggest “bucket list” items is to climb Mt Fuji… as well as the cherry blossom festival. Now I will add some hot springs and Puzzle boxes to the list…

Japan does hot springs to an insane level. One place we went was a hot spring theme park. Dozens of different hotsprings you could go into. One had a waterfall (hot) you could stand under, and a little cave area behind it to isolate yourself. Another had fish to nibble at the dead skin on your toes (don’t remember how hot that one was), another one WAS wine, and every 30 minutes or so someone came in with a bottle of chilled wine to pour a glass for anyone in that tub at the time. Cannot even remember the other variations.

Back to the puzzle boxes, the things are absolutely devilish. And covering them in Yosegi is a stroke of genius, since it naturally masks any seams (and when you put an invisible seam in a place that does not look like it has a seam, it takes even longer for someone to finally find it, since they are busy checking everything that does look like a seam to see which one really is)