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3pc Stepped Pyramid series   Iwahiro's 4-Identical-Piece Cube #1   6pc-hollow-center Pine Burr   Alexis' Spiral Dilemma   Allsides (LiveCube)   Allsides Cube (wood)   Boomerang Burr (imploded)   Chinese Puzzle Rings   Clarissa Burr   Cowboy's Hobble   Devil's Staircase   Dog Yoke   Eclipses   Framed Star series   Gordian Knot   Handcuffs/Horseshoes   Horseshoes LG green plastic   Imperial Wizard's Scale   Knobbly Burr (wood)   Levonen's #1 Cube   Little Paperclips   Magic Box   Hidden Mickey's Dilemma   Mirrored Box Burr   Mosquito 2   Nested framed boxes   No Nukes!   Opposing Triangles   Peg Solitaire   phut Cluster   Sacred Shackles   Sheffield Steel 6BB   Sonneveld 3pc 2x2x2 cube   Squarrel   Stacked Sticks   Star Scale   Strange Loops   Surprize   Swap   Three Clovers   Tower Of Creation   Trinity series   Triple Play   Triplets (LiveCube)   Whiting's Woe   Wood Sphere  


(All the following wood puzzles I've made are from native North American Eastern white pine .   Most have been flametorched to enhance the beautiful grainwork - usually a two-tone effect, with applications of polyurethane on some to exhibit shiny, sparkling highlights and contrast;   the rest have been treated with at least one coat of Watco Danish oil finish for even deeper hues, and where the action of sliding surfaces will not be hindered) .

Tower Of Creation

  Original version is called "Tower of Hanoi" .   With 13 disks <<< (pic at left), it would take the puzzler 2 hrs, 16 minutes, and 31 seconds
( 8,191 moves ! ) to complete the solution . . . assuming it only took a second for each move - without any mistakes or time lag .   Check out the story of its    History .

Also known as Magic Towers by Archer Plastics of Elmhurst, Long Island from the early 50s or maybe even earlier .   Then there's # 562 The Tree Puzzle, made by Wm. F. Drueke and Sons, Grand Rapids, Michigan.   The box it comes in reads "Hand Crafted From Selected Wood Natural and Walnut Finish."   There's also the Pagoda from Skor-Mor, Inc., a Nypro Company, Plain Street, Clinton, Mass 01510 .   One website calls it by the name of Catacombs .   Also known as  Fairylite , a plastic puzzle, in bright cherry red and lemon yellow.   Made in England sometime pre-WW2 .   Yet another name is Craze by Progressive Enterprise from 1954.   Here, the pegs are on a triangular board, all being red plastic .

A new entry name is Kan Yu by the Ohio Thermometer Co.   Another name is Hearth Song Solid Wood Ziggurat Puzzle . . . a 1995 copyright by Hearth Song manufactured in Thailand .   Then there's Pyladisk #912 by The Embossing Company from Albany, NY.

A simple wood version called Quick Meal Puzzle was used as an advertising gimmick for Quick Meal Ranges by the Ringen Stove Co, a division of the American Stove Co, St Lous MO.

The following 7 wire disentanglement puzzles were copied and created from designs out of one of the most prominent and popular hardcover puzzle books out on the market today - 'Creative Puzzles of the World' .

Gordian Knot
    The wire is from stainless steel clothes hanger .   This is an extremely difficult puzzle if one didn't have a whisper of how to proceed .
 Pentangle  also has this puzzle in their Executive line, and they say that, "The object of this puzzle/paperweight (named after the knot of the legend of King Gordius) is to weave the cord from the tangled loops without resorting to the extreme measures of    Alexander The Great   with his sword!"

A simpler version of the Gordian Knot was the  Reef Knot  , which was part of the early 19th century Ivory Chinese Puzzle sets.

Elsewhere on the web - with slightly different form - this is referred to as "The Loony Loop" .   Its packaging has on it ' It is Made in Japan " and has patent no. 172310 .   The instructions say it is a product of the Loony Loop Company from Memphis, TN.   Other names found on the web are Puzzletts Jailer and The Jailer made by Spilsbury Puzzle Co., #3181 and Siamese Angels ( . . . a double-looped version called Triamese Angels -- 26 moves ) .

A wooden version of this puzzle, devised by Jack Botermans in 1983, is called   "Gekkenwerk"  (the Dutch word for lunacy).    Frik - n - Frak's Curio Shack   sells a version called "Sapiens" -- and the French version  Le Lien Soudanais

Three Clovers    The solution is deceptive if one weren't paying attention .

Opposing Triangles    Very clever !

Strange Loops    One could go loopy trying to solve this one .

Handcuffs / Horseshoes    This one is very tricky given its simplicity of design .   Another name on the web is Puzzletts Shackles .

Hidden Mickey's Dilemma    The three loops sort of look like Mickey Mouse's head outline .

Devil's Staircase   . . . Pentangle's Devil's Halo .

Bits & Pieces once sold their version by the same name, however my version's name was taken from a hardcover oversized book called 'Creative Puzzles of the World' , written by Pieter van Delft and Jack Botermans, and purchased from Harry N. Abrams, Inc. NY back in the 70s.   A wooden ring version is called Desparado .   Also known as : Giant's Causeway - slightly different (utilizing a separate pillar with embedded ring).

The next two puzzles are wide-slab burrs - with a hollow-boxed center, and were made using two differently colored acrylic mirror pieces .   The first puzzle was fabricated by applying cyanoacrylic adhesive to bond the two colored pieces to each other .   Unfortunately, after approximately 72 hours, the adhesive started to deteriorate the silvering film, starting with a bubbling condition which destroyed the aesthetics of the puzzle, and ended with the pieces separating from each other .   I reglued those that did come apart, but this puzzle's appearance has since been greatly compromised .

Mirrored Box Burr (version 1)
Fashioned after the pine  burr below .

Mirrored Box Burr (version 2 - with bolts)
    Since I haven't been able to find a satisfactory adhesive for chemically bonding the two differently colored pieces to each other, I have settled for a mechanical bonding, using tiny bolts - one of the colored pieces having been tapped to substitute as a nut fastener .

The following three puzzles are called Chinese Puzzle Rings, and are one of the oldest mechanical puzzles in existence .   Its origins are still unknown .   You can view the total   HISTORY  of this devilish sequential-movement mindbreaker .

The Binary Solutions is the only one out of three that takes you all the way to the end (64 moves) .

Chinese Puzzle Rings
( 47 years old )   North American artwork at end .

Closeup of artwork

Chinese Puzzle Rings
SPIRAL - FLEX handle

6pc hollow-center Pine Burr
Same as the acrylic  mirrored  burrs above,   and the  'soft' yellow plastic  version on my "30+ Years Ago" page .

Trinity 1   First of a series of five .
The original design - by Lynn Yarbrough - is sold through
 Bits & Pieces  as Triple Decker in anodized aluminum .

Trinity 2   Second made

Trinity 3   Third made - 1st 'cross' version .

Trinity Cross

Fourth made - 2nd 'cross' version . . . . .
which was given to the designer as a gift .

Trinity 5 Cross

Fifth made - 3rd 'cross' version .

Trinity 5 __ Intricate notchwork on ends .

Wood Sphere

Notched Sphere    The added notches make for a very impressive little puzzle .

   The name of this sneaky little item comes from the fractious way the mechanism is constructed .   As seen in the next pic, the only thing that is holding the puzzle together are the tiny little tabs on the ends of the pieces .
    Once assembled, it will stay together with an extreme minimum of handling - affording a distinguished appearance as an intimidating little display .   Once the level of handling is raised just a fraction . . . SURPRIZE ! . . . it'll fall apart at a whisper .

. . . . . all 6 pieces
Designed and crafted by Richard Whiting of New Hampshire (USA) .

    This is a coordinate-motion puzzle (all pieces move at the same time) - original designer and inventor, Viktor Genel .   In practice, gentle 'baby steps' are used in sequence to slowly separate the pieces - because of the naturally inherent friction of the pine wood .

Phut's 3 pieces


Magic Box   . . . from Mag-Nif's plastic version (as seen on my   HOMEpage ) .
This was an experiment with North American pine wood .   The logo was made by using a home-made branding iron out of clothes hanger wire .

Magic Box . . . . . partially open
    I call this type of puzzle a one-way maneuver : Once you've discovered how it opens, there is no brain power required to close it .
    Therefore, the entire crux of creating it in the first place is to ensure that the seams where the separate pieces slide pass each other are absolutely snug and precise .

(invisible upon inspection with the unaided eye) .

Magic Box . . . . . 2 identical pieces
    Making it with any type of unstable wood (such as the softwood pine I used) is positively taboo .   Small changes in ambient climate will flex the wood enough to show separations at the 'slidable' seams - no matter how you cut the wood : along the grain or across it, thus exposing the way to opening it prematurely .

The next few pictures show puzzles made from pine wood strips 1/8" thick by 3/4" wide .   This is a study in angle cuts . . . producing finely artful puzzles and accompanying sculpture products : indicating certain structures that can be made in different ways by merely applying the same degree of angle cuts ( 60° ), but reversing their direction, either on the same pieces or on separate pieces .

Framed Star
    This 6-point star is known as Solomon's Seal (an emblem consisting of two interlaced triangles, formerly used as an amulet, especially against fever) .   Solomon, in Biblical times, was a son of David and 10th-century king of Israel proverbial for his wisdom .

Offset Framed Star . . . . . with quarter
Combining long and short pieces yields this gem .

Ring of Angles
Just by reversing the direction of the angle cuts (compared with the Framed Star), one comes up with a ring such as this .

Two Pairs   . . . as a mobile .

Star Pattern   . . . as a wall-hanging ornament .

Nested framed boxes . . . as a sculpture !
This little beauty was created by starting with a large framed box and creating progressively smaller boxes by 1" scalings from each other .

The level of puzzle difficulty in creating these corners is very minimal, to say the least .   After all, this is just a novelty sculpture .

The next few Stepped Pyramid puzzles are taken from Stewart Coffin's 3pc Block .   Except for the V-notch, all are made out of North American Eastern white pine wood, and flame-torched for grain highlighting, and given several coats of Watco Danish Oil Finish .   Here I did not apply any clearcoat varnishes or acrylic sprays, as this would have interfered with the puzzles' mechanical sliding maneuvers .

3pc Stepped Pyramid   This first in the series was made over 30+ years ago, and recently sold on E-Bay .

3pc Stepped Pyramid - Deep Slotted .
    Not only for aesthetic effects, the deep slots add a next-level touch of confusion for the puzzler .   The individual cubes that make up the 3 compound pieces are approximately 3/4" .

3pc Stepped Pyramid - Shallow Slotted .   Again for aesthetics and confusion .

3pc Stepped Pyramid - V-notched .
    The V notches add a gentle aesthetic effect with a minimum of added confusion to the puzzler .   The 1" blocks were bought at a local crafts store - the kind of wood was not indicated on the package, but it is a domestic hardwood of some sort .

3pc Stepped Pyramid - with holes .
Again for aesthetics and confusion .

The Sacred Four

Boomerang Burr (imploded)
    Original burr is called  'Banana Burr' .   Interesting exercise in shape-changing 'explosion-type' coordinate motion,   utilizing 45° and 90° angles, with North American Eastern white pine, kiln-dried at about 8% humidity .
    There were several areas on each of the pieces (not on any slide portion) I applied several coats of clear gloss polyurethane, just to enhance its aesthetics by way of contrast from other areas . . . such as the contrast between natural blonde-color to flame-torched areas .

. . . starting to expand . . .
The Banana Burr is an original design by Junichi Yananose .   More of Junichi's designs can be seen here .

. . . expanding more . . .

. . . fully expanded before pieces disengage from each other .
    Although this is technically a coordinate-motion puzzle - all pieces moving at the same time, in real-time practice, because this prototype has several inherent variables in the construction of the puzzle : surface friction, slight imperfections in angles, etc. - along in keeping all pieces reasonably snug in their sliding tracks, 'baby steps' are nominally required to maneuver the pieces in sequential moves .

Boomerang Burr . . . "UNVEILED" . . . 6 identical pieces
My next version will be more precise in all respects, including applying wood wax to minimize wood friction to the utmost minimum, thus creating a truer coordinate-motion puzzle !

Here is an  animation  depicting the movement of it.

Knobbly Burr
Original design by Dic Sonneveld .

Knobby Burr pieces
There are two sets of identical triplets .   One set, the mirror image of the other .

LiveCubes' version of the Knobby Burr

Clarissa Burr     Original design by Ronald Kint-Bruynseels .  This is probably a level 7 on the Puzzle Difficulty Index from 1 to 10, in relation to others like it .   It takes 11 moves just to remove the first piece .
    This unique gem is an awesome 6" cube !   An enormous handfull, to say the least .
    If you feel like creating one, you can go here for further info :  Clarissa Burr
According to a statement regarding the solution on Ishino Keiichiro's page displaying the puzzle, "There are 170 solutions include apparent. 1 solution is constructable . 11 moves to remove the first piece . "

Horseshoes . . . regular size
    I bought a set of plastic horseshoes for four players, along with goal pins, all in a neat plastic see-through bag .
    The legs came straight . . . didn't look right . . . so I heated the top edge of the horseshoes over the electric stove element to give them a slight bend inward .

    Got some chain from the local hardware store, and the bracelet from a local junk store, and Voila!

    Because the bracelet is so much smaller in scale with the horseshoes - compared to other puzzles of this sort - puzzle manipulation is that much harder .   (the usual idea is to scale the ring size so that it is large enough to fit over and halfway up the taper of the horseshoes)

Alexis' Spiral Dilemma
    Is the secret to solving this gem lie with only looping a single spiral or two ?   How does one make the transition from single to double loop ?
    The beautifully highly-polished chromed spring is a whopping 6" long by 1 3/8" in diameter .   The wire is 1/8" thick .   The rugged gold ring is 2 1/2" in diameter with a wire thickness of 1/4" .

Dog Yoke
    An old transfer puzzle design with a new look !   The intent of this 'transfer' puzzle is to move a ring from the loop of one side over to be alongside the ring on the loop of the other side .   The yoke material is made of hard - but very flexible - rubber . . .

    The original name is the Ox Yoke puzzle .   With a different design, another name found on the web is Wedding Vows .   One place on the web calls 2 different wire versions : Puzzletts Amigos, Puzzletts Chaperone and Puzzletts Wicky .   Other sites refer to it as Bridge The Gap -- Loop Puzzle -- Sleeper Stopper -- Zinger

Whiting's Woe
    The sticks are intrically carved from North American pine and flame-torched for grain enhancement .   This version is copied from the original Plato's Secret on my
'  30+ years ago  ' webpage .   It is five times the size also .
( a.k.a. Plato's Plight -- Plato's Secret -- Philosopher's Stone )
( Philosopher's Knot -- Merlin's Stone -- Cobweb -- Knit Wit )

Imperial Wizard's Scale . . . . . the Executive Line    gifted

'Puzzle with a stand' . . . . . The object of this puzzle is to remove the ring from the inner gold-textured cord .   Fairly difficult .

. . . 'The Platform'

Note the brass hardware that add distinction and flair .

Star Scale . . . . . with stand

'The Platform'

 Levonen's #1 Cube . . . . . my version (designed by Juha A. Levonen)

Made of 3/4" stock North American white pine, kiln-dried to 8% humidity, stained with MINWAX Colonial Maple and given 3 coats of high-gloss acrylic polyurethane .

Because this is an interlocking cube with lateral movements in the solution, there has to be at least one sub-cube space available, as in the next picture .

. . . . .bottom

Instead of a center space within the cube, as in the greater majority of such puzzle interlocks, this design puts the space on the outside .

. . . . . pieces

The major pieces were not made with individual sub-cubes (except for 4 single sub-cubes where it was needed) , as you can see from the inside surfaces .

After the glueing process was complete, each of the 6 sides of the assembled cube were drawn across the saw blade and scored at a shallow depth to create the illusion of individual sub-cubes .

. . . partially opened

This cube's pieces were glued together from the inside out, with spare stock pieces fitted in around them to continue the integrity of the correct orientation of the curing sub-pieces, to ultimately ensure a maximum snug fit .

 Sonneveld 3pc 2x2x2 cube . . . . . stained only (with MINWAX Colonial Maple)

. . . . . partially open, and given 4 coats of high-gloss acrylic polyurethane

Notice that, unlike a great many burr puzzles whose pieces slide laterally for disassembly, these pieces twist in unison (like a cordinate-motion puzzle) .

However, in practical terms, each piece has to be moved a 'baby step' at a time until final separation occurs .

. . . . . all 3 pieces are identical .

Stacked Sticks
Made from lollypop sticks and cut to fit .

. . . . . a tiny puzzle indeed . . . . .

. . . . . a bigger size comparison

. . . . . 4 layers thick

. . . . . 2 halves

. . . . . the 4 pieces

Allsides Cube (wood)

This pine version of mine is taken from William Waite's orignal wood design sold at his website, Nemmelgeb Murr's Import Shop (domain since expired) .

. . . . . and it's plastic keychain version -- (same website -- domain since expired)
The puzzle's name stems from the fact that each of the six faces of the cube shows all four colors .

The four intricate pieces.

This is an extremely difficult puzzle .

There are 4 sliding moves before the first piece is able to be released, as you can see in this picture .

The notch lines on the outside of the cube give a false impression that the major pieces are made from individual cubelets; and also gives the puzzle an aesthetic quality .

Another Allsides Cube using LiveCubes' (now defunct) cube pieces .

. . . . . the cube partially opened

According to the folks at LiveCubes (now defunct) :
". . . . . Start simple with just a cube .   Build up your cube .   . . . . . No racking your brain .   Add more shapes and recombine them .   Still a cube .   . . . . . puzzle enthusiasts will discover livecube is an integral tool in the cube puzzle world .   livecube opens the door to the puzzle world for everyone ."
They had an awesome Flash page that starts off their website, and sophisticated animation viewing of all their descriptions throughout the rest of their site that is a definite must to see .   Very impressive !   The units are of exceptional quality plastic of great precision fabrication .   I personally highly recommend their product .

Sheffield Steel 6BB
This is the first in a series of what I like to call 'tortuous burrs' .   This humungous 6-pc specimen measures 7" (if it were in cube form) and weighs about 2 pounds .   It is made of North American white pine -- at 8% kiln-dried humidity -- and given a two-toned application of MINWAX stain (combination of Red Oak and Natural), and then several coats of acrylic polyurethane on certain areas that will not be affected during the move shifts .

According to a statement regarding the solution on Ishino Keiichiro's page, "There are 144 solutions include apparent. 1 solution is constructable . 17 moves to remove the first piece . 14 moves next ." . "

To not become unbearingly overwhelmed with the enormity of the number of shifts involved, I enlisted the aid of one awesome program called Puzzlesolver 3D created by André van Kammen (program now defunct) .

According to André, "Puzzlesolver 3D is a program for solving 3D interlocking puzzles.   It makes it possible to show the found solutions as an animation which can be viewed from every angle.   It supports assembling and disassembling for puzzles which are built up using cubic blocks.   For example, it solves most 6 piece burrs by the click of a button.   It has an easy to use 3D interface for drawing the puzzle. "

Triplets (LiveCube) . . . . . made with LiveCube units

3 identical pieces

Little Paperclips . . . . . from Tom Lensch's version of
                                                                                   Oskar van Deventer's original design >>>
This is a level 3 burr : it takes 3 sliding shifts to release the first piece .

Stain was added to give it an aesthetic
'depth & breadth' ; the notches help to balance the overall geometric aethetics, and to create added confusion to an already partially non-symetrical geometry .

The stain is a 2-part combo of MINWAX red oak and natural, enhancing the 2 major soft grains of the wood .
MINWAX wood wax was applied to all shifting surfaces to help reduce friction to an already snug fit .

As with all my puzzles -- having taken influence from, and giving credit to, the great craftsmen of our time -- I try to cross-grain all pieces to minimize expansion & contraction .

Another   'tortuous burr'   modeled after . . . . . . . . . . Ronald Kint-Bruynseels' original >>>

According to Ishino Keiichiro's website, "There are 12 solutions include apparent. 1 solution is constructable. 10 moves to remove the first piece. "

You are looking at the first 3 shifts out of 10

No Nukes!   . . . . . the Titan Beast
This impressively, intimidating design, the forerunner to the Sheffield Steel 6BB above, is credited to Ronald Kint-Bruynseels, and demands a high degree of respect and awe, even from the most serious of puzzlers .   The 'core' pieces are slightly similar to the Sheffield Steel 6BB .   To assemble just the 'core' required only eight moves .   Once the extensions were added, the number of shifts increased dramatically .

This is by far the most frustrating puzzle I have made, and have put together -- even with the 44 move solution, which was created -- as well as those high-level burrs above -- by PuzzleSolver3D .

The extensions are 10 1/4" by 1 7/16", acquired from 3/4" North American white pine finished 1x4 stock .

Weighing in at 2.02 pounds, it is extremely snug .   After inserting the sixth piece, from then on to the finish, it was very difficult shifting the pieces, no matter which ones they were .   Hard to get one's fingers in between the extensions to grab hold of the piece's core structure, and use both hands -- applying equal pressure -- to make the shifts .

Not only have I given the extensions a two-tone stain effect with four coats of acrylic polyurethane, but I have also created line cuts for added distinction aesthetics .

. . . . . size comparison

This gives you a great perspective as to the mammoth scale of this gargantuan . . . a size akin to some of Vaclav Obsivac's puzzles from the Czech Republic .

I have meticulously created a solution page myself, with the aid of PuzzleSolver 3D .   You can easily follow each step, as the pieces are all differently colored and numbered, and most of the steps (all enclosed within a frame) have two illustrations: the left one representing the puzzle having been turned in orientation from the last step previous, the right one showing the move .

Triple Play . . . . . my version (just the outward aesthetics)
. . . . . taken from an original design by Jim Gooch, having been fabricated (now discontinued) by craftsman Eric Fuller and sold on his site (no longer) .

According to Eric, "This outstanding design by Jim Gooch was my Exchange Puzzle at IPP 25 in Helsinki, Finland. It was very well recieved and remains one of my favorite designs ever!
The goal of the puzzle is to take the three identical pieces apart and put them back together. Disassembly is very tricky, and I have recieved comments by people speculating that it is really an impossible object.

It is not !

A solution does exist, and after that you have the fun of re-assembly, which is every bit as difficult as disassembly ! Each puzzle is finely handcrafted of solid Black Walnut and your choice of various exotic and fine domestic hardwood."

My version is crafted from North American white pine @ 8% kiln-dried humidity standard, and given two tones of MINWAX stain: red oak, and a combination of red oak and natural, with added line notches for augmented aesthetics .

(The special trick maneuver is not your normally-thinking lateral movement . . . rather, a slight departure from the norm that requires delicate and precise finger contact points at designated places on part of a 'key' piece .
Without those calculated pressure points -- seeing as how the puzzle is made of soft pine wood -- it would be very easy to crack one leg of the 'key' piece .)

Iwahiro's 4-Identical-Piece Cube #1

. . . two halves

. . . one half - two pieces

. . . 4 identical pcs


Peg Solitaire . . . with Brite-Lite pegs

The following quote is taken from the book Creative Puzzles Of The World . . . . . by authors Pieter van Delft and Jack Botermans:

"According to one old story, the game of peg solitaire often called simply solitaire, was invented in the 18th century by a French nobleman imprisoned in the Bastille, the grim fortress-prison in Paris. He was modifying an already existing game called Fox and Geese. His new invention, like the earlier game, used a board in which an array of holes -- called cells -- were bored as resting places for pegs or marbles.

There are many games and puzzles that can be devised for the solitaire board, but the method of making moves is common to all of them."

Peg Solitaire  . . . with rivets


Both sets of pegs have to travel to their opposite ends .

Once they are set in motion, they cannot reverse direction .   Each peg cannot jump over its own, but can make a single jump over the opposite color .   It can also make a single jump to the next space to it .

Sacred Shackles

Beautiful chromed steel .   Large rings are 3 ¼" O.D.   Small split ring is 32mm .
Tiny linking split rings are 16mm .
The thickness of the wire is slightly larger than ordinary coat hanger wire: approximately (.100") or (2 ½ mm) .

Mosquito 2

Mosquito 3

Cowboy's Hobble

a.k.a. "Super 'G' "