How to Install a Music Box Mechanism quick tutorial

Some people forget that I sell music box supplies as well as making musical gifts. I was explaining my weird music box hobby/habit to someone recently and she didn't run or slowly back away so I guess the frayed edges of my obsession are still tucked in neatly enough, even though not many people seem to share it. And as for supplies, I found out (the hard way) how tough it is to find a really good and affordable selection of tunes so I had little choice but to open a shop for people trying to pursue this hobby and art.

When it comes to creative work, there is so much that people can do with music boxes, but they are old fashioned and only on the radar of a very few people, so no one thinks to use them. To be fair, sometimes music box craft gets a treacly rep, but it doesn't have to be that way! With a little bit of creativity and attention to detail a hand created music box can have both the moxie and the charm .

The most basic question I get from people who visit my supply shop is "how do I install my movement?"

Well, if you aren't interested in making your own music box, the next bit is going to be BORING. Sorry!

This is a quick and dirty tutorial that explains how a typical modern music box mechanism can be installed inside your box.

You can sometimes install the movement while it is still in its white protective casing. In most circumstances however, you will begin by removing the movement from the case and unscrewing the plastic base. The case can be pried open with a flat edge such as a screwdriver or butter knife.

Cut out a small piece of paper that fits the part of the housing that you'd like to place your movement in. Place your movement on this paper and press against the bottom to create an impression of the mounting holes and winding shaft on the paper - you will need to punch a hole right through the paper with the shaft. You can also rub chalk or a lead pencil against the mounting holes to gain an impression. Trace the edges of the movement as well.

Remove the movement and mark the hole locations more clearly. Place the paper into your housing in the same position you would like to place your movement, and push through at the locations of the holes with a sharp point (a needle or the point of a compass).

Remove the paper pattern and deepen the hole marks. Drill 3.. (1/8") mounting holes and a 6mm (1/4") clearance hole for the winder shaft.
Now you can place your movement. It can be mounted with #2 wood screws.


This tutorial was penned by the elf who works at Tuned Teeth Music Box Supply & More


  1. wonderful tutorial! thank you!

  2. I don't think I have that kind of patience :) I admire that you do! :)

  3. Oh it is ChezChani, especially with a little practice.

  4. I'm worried that when I do this, the wood on the box I want to use will be too thick. What is an appropriate wood thickness?

  5. Hi Natersawr, the thickness of the wood generally isn't a problem. You'll need to make sure the screws you use are long enough to secure your movement. The screws don't need to go through the entire depth of the wood, just need to be deep enough that the movement stays in place.

  6. And one more important thing Natersawr, you will want to attach a key extender to the winding key, so that it's long enough to get through the wood.

  7. Just the information I've been hunting for. I've had a lovely time browsing through your posts, some great creations!
    Thank you

  8. I'm happy to hear that OldB, thanks for the note.

  9. Can the protective cover be put back on it? If not how do you place one with the plastic cover?

    1. Hi Susan, I just saw your question.
      When it's installed this way (screwed down) the cover can't be put back on. If you prefer to leave the cover on, you'll need to attach the it to your box with a strong adhesive. E6000 Glue would work.

      And instead of punching a hole through paper to create a template for lining up your winding key hole, you would use chalk, lead pencil or ink to create the impression on your paper template.

      Does that help?



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