[other traps]

Drawer Trap

This is your standard "potty-popper" explosive-cap trap built into a drawer instead of the usual hinged-lid box. What I like about this one (apart from the nice wood-inlay drawer-box that I picked up for $5 at a thrift store) is the extremely simple design: aside from the popper itself there's just one other part. The only downside is that the trap does require placing a small hole in the back of the drawer itself.

This is what I'd call a third-level trap — it takes a little dexterity and knowledge to disarm, but anyone with a little experience shouldn't have any trouble getting past it. I never sent this one off to Jay; it just sits on my shelf to surprise visitors who haven't learned to be careful when opening boxes around my place.




  1. Glue the popper to the left-hand wall of the drawer, about 1cm from the back. The popper should be aligned vertically, with the cap at the top.

  2. Drill a small hole or slit in the back of the the drawer such that it enters about 2cm from the bottom and 1cm from the left-hand wall. The hole should be large enough that your wire or spring steel can fit through easily.

  3. Bend a short piece of wire or spring steel into an L shape, about 4cm on a side. Glue it to the back of the box / cabinet such that when the drawer is slid closed the wire sticks through the hole and about 2cm into the drawer (i.e. enough to block the popper). I positioned it by putting one end through the hole (from the back of the drawer), smearing glue on the other end and then holding it in place with some foam between the drawer and the part to be glued as I pressed the drawer closed. After it stuck I re-opened the drawer and pressed the wire more firmly in place while the glue set.



Attach to side of drawer

Glue spike onto back of box or cabinet.


Arming consists of setting and loading the popper with a cap and then closing the drawer such that the spike keeps the popper from firing. It's the second part that can be tricky.

  1. Place a cap over the firing pin.
  2. Pull back the spring-loaded hammer that's attached halfway up the top (non-wall-side) part of the popper, so that the hammer points down instead of up.
  3. Bring the top part of the popper to the wall, thus sandwiching the hammer and keeping it from releasing.
  4. Now for the tricky part: you need to close the drawer enough for the spike to block the popper without it going off first. The normal procedure is essentially the same thing anyone disarming the trap would do only in reverse. Take a thin stick (a bamboo skewers or more spring steel works well) and hold down the popper as you carefully close the drawer. Once the spike has protruded enough that it keeps the popper from opening you can remove the stick and close the drawer the rest of the way.

    Alternative: Assuming you're trapping a drawer in a small box rather than in a large cabinet, you can weight down the popper with a coin or the like, and then shake it off once the drawer is closed. If the spring on your popper is old, you might also be able to just set the drawer on its side and hope gravity keeps the spring from going off. If so, then you can just carefully close the drawer and then give a quick shake to let the popper open a small amount before it's stopped by the spike — the extra leverage will insure the trap goes off when the drawer is next opened.

For a more dramatic effect, you can sandwich a small sheet of flash paper between the cap and the firing pin. The paper will be held in place by the cap, and will be set off by the cap. The bang will be a bit more muffled than with just the cap.




Arming with flash paper

Armed with flash paper

Firing Video (Quicktime, 132K)


Once the drawer is opened enough that the spike no longer blocks the popper, gravity and the hammer's tension will push the popper's top away from the wall, allowing the hammer to strike the cap.


Disarming is just the reverse of arming. Open the drawer just a tiny bit. Then take a thin stick or wire (you do have a thin stick in your trap-disarming kit, right?) and hold down the popper as you carefully open the drawer. Once the drawer is opened enough to access the popper with your fingers, cover the cap with your finger and slowly open the popper, catching the hammer with your finger and slowly bringing it to rest harmlessly on the cap.