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How To Make A Tennessee Music Box How To Make A Tennessee Music Box

Music Box

How To Make A Tennessee Music Box

Written by: Cherilyn Racine

Learn how to make your own Tennessee music box and enjoy the soothing melodies of this unique instrument. Discover step-by-step instructions and helpful tips for creating your own music box masterpiece.

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Table of Contents


Welcome to the fascinating world of music boxes! These delightful little treasures have been captivating people for centuries with their enchanting melodies and intricate designs. If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of a music box, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to try your hand at making one yourself, then you’re in for a treat.

In this article, we’ll dive into the process of making a Tennessee music box from scratch. By the end, you’ll have a beautiful handcrafted music box that plays a sweet melody and serves as a timeless keepsake or a unique gift for someone special.

Creating a music box may sound like a complex task, but fear not! With a little patience, creativity, and the right materials, you’ll be able to bring the magic of music to life in your very own creation.

Before we jump into the steps, it’s important to gather all the necessary materials and tools. This will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience as you embark on your music box-making journey.


Materials and Tools

Before you begin making your Tennessee music box, gather the following materials:

  • A sturdy cigar box – Choose a box that is in good condition and resonates well when tapped.
  • Music mechanism – This is the heart of the music box and can be purchased online or at a craft store. Choose a mechanism with a tune that resonates with you.
  • Decorative paper or fabric – This will be used to line the inside of the box and add a touch of charm to your creation.
  • Small hinges – You’ll need hinges to attach the lid of the box to the base.
  • Decorative knobs or handles – These will add a touch of elegance to your music box and make it easier to open and close.
  • Small screws – These will be used to secure the music mechanism and hinges in place.
  • Wood glue – This will help ensure the durability of your music box.
  • Paint or stain – If you wish to customize the look of your box, choose a paint or stain that suits your style.
  • Paintbrushes – Use brushes of various sizes for applying paint or stain.
  • Scissors or craft knife – These will be needed for cutting the lining material and any additional decorative elements.

Now that you have gathered all the materials, it’s time to gather the necessary tools:

  • Drill – You’ll need a drill to create holes for mounting the music mechanism and hinges.
  • Screwdriver – For attaching screws and hinges.
  • Sandpaper – Use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges or surfaces on the cigar box.
  • Ruler – This will help ensure precise measurements throughout the process.
  • Pencil – Use a pencil to mark where holes and cuts need to be made.
  • Tape measure – For measuring and ensuring accurate placement of components.

Having all these materials and tools prepared will make the process of creating your Tennessee music box much easier and more enjoyable. Now that you’re well equipped, let’s move on to the first step: preparing the cigar box.


Step 1: Preparing the Cigar Box

The first step in creating your Tennessee music box is preparing the cigar box that will serve as the main structure. Follow these steps to prepare the box:

  1. Inspect the box: Start by examining the cigar box for any damage or imperfections. Ensure that the box is in good condition and has a solid structure. If there are any loose or weak areas, reinforce them with wood glue and clamp them together until dry.
  2. Clean the box: Use a damp cloth to wipe off any dust or debris from the exterior and interior of the box. This will create a clean surface for any paint or stain you may choose to apply later.
  3. Sand the box: Gently sand the exterior and interior of the box with sandpaper, focusing on any rough edges or surfaces. This step will help create a smooth finish and provide an ideal base for paint or stain.
  4. Measure and mark: Determine the desired placement of the music mechanism on the inside of the box. Use a ruler and pencil to mark the spot accurately. Measure the size of the mechanism and ensure there is enough space for it to fit comfortably without interfering with the lid or sides of the box.
  5. Create holes: Using a drill and an appropriate-sized drill bit, carefully create holes where you marked for the music mechanism. Make sure to drill straight and avoid drilling all the way through the box. These holes will be used to mount the music mechanism later.

Once you have completed these steps, you will have a prepared cigar box ready for the next phase of creating your Tennessee music box. Now, let’s move on to step 2: creating the music mechanism.


Step 2: Creating the Music Mechanism

The music mechanism is the heart of your Tennessee music box, and in this step, we will focus on creating or preparing the mechanism. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a tune: Decide on the melody you want your music box to play. You can purchase pre-made music mechanisms with popular tunes or customize your own by selecting a blank mechanism and punching the notes yourself.
  2. Prepare the mechanism: If you have chosen a pre-made music mechanism, make sure it is in working order. If not, consider lubricating the gears and springs as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are customizing your own mechanism, use a hole punch or sharp tool to create the appropriate notes on the blank mechanism according to the musical notation of your chosen tune.
  3. Test the mechanism: Before mounting it inside the box, test the mechanism to ensure it plays the desired tune correctly. Wind up the mechanism, activate it, and listen attentively to make sure the melody is clear and in tune. Make any necessary adjustments or repairs before proceeding.

Once you have prepared or purchased the music mechanism and ensured it is in good working order, it’s time to move on to the next step: mounting the music mechanism inside the cigar box. This is where the magic truly begins to take shape!


Step 3: Mounting the Music Mechanism

In this step, we will guide you through the process of mounting the music mechanism inside the cigar box. Follow these steps:

  1. Position the mechanism: Carefully place the music mechanism into the prepared holes in the cigar box. Ensure that it is centered and aligned properly.
  2. Secure the mechanism: Once the mechanism is in place, use small screws to secure it firmly to the box. Be cautious not to overtighten the screws, as this could damage the mechanism.
  3. Test the mechanism: Wind up the music mechanism and activate it to ensure that it plays smoothly and the melody is audible. Listen carefully for any distortions or issues with the sound. If needed, make adjustments to the position of the mechanism or tighten any loose screws to optimize its performance.

With the music mechanism securely mounted inside the cigar box, you’re getting closer to the completion of your Tennessee music box. The next step will focus on adding decorative touches to make your creation truly unique and visually appealing.


Step 4: Adding Decorative Touches

Now it’s time to let your creativity shine and add some decorative touches to your Tennessee music box. Follow these steps to personalize and enhance its visual appeal:

  1. Lining the box interior: Cut a piece of decorative paper or fabric to fit the inside of the box. Use wood glue or adhesive to secure it in place, ensuring a smooth and wrinkle-free finish. This step adds a beautiful backdrop to your music box.
  2. Paint or stain the exterior: If you wish to customize the look of the cigar box, paint it or apply a stain that matches your desired aesthetic. Use a paintbrush or sponge to apply even coats, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next.
  3. Add decorative elements: Consider embellishing the exterior of the box with additional decorations such as beads, buttons, ribbons, or charms. Use your imagination and personal style to make it truly unique.
  4. Add decorative knobs or handles: Attach decorative knobs or handles to the lid of the music box. This not only adds a touch of elegance but also makes it easier to open and close the box.
  5. Personalize the box: Consider adding a personalized touch by engraving or painting a name, a special date, or a meaningful quote on the lid or sides of the box. This personalization will make your music box even more special and meaningful.

As you complete these decorative touches, your Tennessee music box will begin to reflect your creativity and personality. The final step will ensure that everything is working harmoniously.


Step 5: Testing and Fine-tuning

Now that all the components of your Tennessee music box are in place, it’s time to test its functionality and make any necessary adjustments. Follow these steps to ensure that your music box plays flawlessly:

  1. Wind up the mechanism: Carefully wind up the music mechanism, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide the necessary power for the music to play.
  2. Activate the mechanism: Gently activate the mechanism and listen to the melody it produces. Pay attention to the clarity, volume, and tempo of the music.
  3. Adjust the mechanism placement: If you notice any issues with the melody, such as notes being cut off or muffled, try adjusting the positioning of the mechanism within the box. This can affect the sound projection and quality.
  4. Tune the mechanism (if possible): If your music mechanism allows for tuning, use a small screwdriver or tool to make subtle adjustments to the tune. This can help eliminate any dissonance or off-key notes.
  5. Fine-tune the lid: Check the movement and fit of the lid to ensure it opens and closes smoothly without interfering with the mechanism or causing any sound disruptions. Make any necessary adjustments to the hinges or lid placement.

By thoroughly testing and fine-tuning your music box, you can ensure that it performs beautifully and offers a delightful musical experience. Once you are satisfied with the overall functionality and sound quality, your Tennessee music box is complete and ready to be enjoyed!

Congratulations on creating your very own Tennessee music box. Whether you keep it as a treasured keepsake or gift it to someone special, it is sure to bring joy and wonder with its enchanting melodies. Now, sit back, relax, and let the sweet sounds of your music box transport you to a world of harmony and nostalgia.

Enjoy your musical creation!



Creating your own Tennessee music box is a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor. Through the careful selection of materials, the step-by-step process, and the infusion of your own creativity, you have produced a beautiful and functional piece of art.

From preparing the cigar box and mounting the music mechanism to adding decorative touches and fine-tuning the sound, each step in the process has contributed to the uniqueness and charm of your music box.

Now, as you listen to the sweet melodies emanating from your creation, you can appreciate the time and effort you have invested in crafting this special keepsake. Whether you keep it as a cherished treasure or share it as a heartfelt gift, your Tennessee music box will evoke emotions and create lasting memories.

Remember, the joy of making a music box doesn’t end with this project. You can continue to explore new melodies, experiment with different designs, and even create custom music boxes for different occasions.

So, immerse yourself in the world of music boxes, let your creativity run wild, and indulge in the enchanting melodies that these little wonders produce. The possibilities are endless, and with each new endeavor, you’ll gain more experience and satisfaction in the art of music box making.

Enjoy the journey of crafting beautiful melodies and sharing the magic of music with your Tennessee music box. Happy crafting!

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