Neil's Puzzle Building Blog

Log Jam

I recently put in an order for a few wooden packing puzzles since I've found a liking for them recently, after spending a long time not being very good at them. I made an order with Brilliant Puzzles who have a good selection of wooden puzzles at very affordable prices. The first of those puzzles I'll be reviewing is Log Jam, or "Log Pack" as it is known on the Brilliant Puzzles site. The puzzle has seven pieces in the tray, and an eighth in the end. The goal of the puzzle it to fit the extra log into the box, in typical packing puzzle style.

Log Jam by Vesa Timonen

Log Jam by Vesa Timonen

Designed by Vesa Timonen, this is a fairly well known puzzle design, and was entered in the IPP 22 design competition where it was known as Lox in Box. I've been looking to try it for a while, after reading Brian's review and having seen various copies of the puzzle in friends collections. The copy from Brilliant Puzzles is not expensive, and as I was ordering something for Jen, I decided to added this to my order. Creative Crafthouse also make a copy of this puzzle.

The puzzle comes sealed in shrink wrapped plastic, with the solution sheet folded and on the bottom of the puzzle. At least you can avoid accidentally seeing the solution. It's 7.5" x 2.75" x 1.25" and made from two contrasting woods. If I were to guess I'd say the wood used is rubberwood, which seems very common in the cheaper, mass produced puzzles that I have seen recently. Given the price, the quality of the pieces is what you'd expect. This isn't a high end collectors piece, but a puzzle to be played with.

The fit of the pieces is fair, and the puzzle functions exactly as it should. As nice touch, and something which seems fairly common with this design is that the extra piece has a place in the end of the puzzle for storage so that the puzzle can be kept in its unsolved state without leaving pieces stacked, or losing the piece.

When I had seen this puzzle elsewhere, I'd tried mentally solving it, so before I started I had a few ideas to try. After a few minutes I'd exhausted those, so I had to think a bit. Sorting the pieces, and then looking at what I had let me see a possible pattern, and after another few minutes of playing I had the solution. It's a very elegant solution, and well worth getting a copy to play with. The design of the pieces and the initial presentation leads you down one avenue of thinking while the actual solution is quite different. It is something that I have noticed with these 'fit the extra piece in' style puzzle that the initial presentation is often designed to start you off on the wrong path, and this is no different. Very clever.

Closeup of one of the pieces

Closeup of one of the pieces

In the solved state, the fit is not as close as I would have expected, and there's still a degree of wiggle room in the tray. Not enough that there's a different possible solution, so perhaps it's just the perfectionist in me looking for more. As you can see from the closeup of one of the logs above, the finish on the pieces is pretty rough, and the tray shows some signs of the fit and finish not being stellar. But as I mentioned earlier, this is a puzzle to be played with, and not a collectors piece, and that is reflected in the price.

For the price, this is a great puzzle, and I'm happy to have had the chance to play with it.

Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Hi Neil,
    That’s a great puzzle, and the solution is not at all intuitive. I remember it took me a while to solve it a few years ago, at the beginning of my collection. Vesa has made the Lox in Box II as well. It’s also a very good design and I had a chance to review it a couple of years ago. More recently, he added to his Shapeways shop the Lox in Box 3, although that one I’m yet to add to my collection.

    Cheers đŸ˜‰

  2. Hi Neil,

    You should try the Lox in box II puzzle. It is much harder than this one. The only bad thing about the original is that it is made out of a very boring white wood and there is nowhere to store the loose piece. If Lox in box III is out then I will have to buy it!


  3. Thanks for a nice review. I bought this puzzle and many others from Brilliant Puzzles. I have to say that I couldn’t find better prices than theirs anywhere and I was very pleased with all the puzzles I bought from them. Thing is that they, like others, carry inventory made in Thailand (I called and checked) where quality is much better then puzzles made in China. I have a lot of wooden puzzles and games and those produced in China feels like plastic. I don’t know how they make wood feel like plastic but this is the truth. With wooden puzzles made in Thailand you can actually feel the quality of the product, the weight of the item (heavier than China products), you definitely get more for your money!

  4. It is a ingenious puzzle! The copies from Brilliant Puzzles and Creative Crafthouse would have been even more appreciated if the makers had asked permission to make them.

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