Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
25Feb/110

Can I really create my own puzzles?

So I've been toying with the idea of creating a few puzzles of my own for some time now.  I love Japanese puzzle boxes, and have a couple in my collection.  I also love wooden puzzles, probably because I like the feeling of wood.  There's something about the way wood feels when you work with it, and no two puzzles made from wood will ever be the same thanks to the grain and so on.

Anyway I digress.  I'm not a wood worker, and have limited experience working with wood so I know that I have no chance currently at making any sort of worthwhile Japanese puzzle box.  However I was asked just before Christmas to make a pencil case for my girlfriend.  So I got some wood, dusted off the tools and got to it.

Now at this point I had virtually no power tools, so everything was done by hand.  The wood was marked up, and sawn using a hand saw, I added dowels which I made just using a hand drill, and mitered the bottom to place the base in using my Dremel. 

Ok, so why is all of this relevant?  Well having completed this simple project, I realised that in fact I'm not all that bad at this, and maybe I can start doing something a little better.  So what now?

One of my friends is also a puzzle designer, and I really like the things he's done.  He creates burr puzzles, and variants of burrs, and that seemed like a sensible place to start.  After all, in its simplest form, a burr puzzle is just lots of cubes stuck together.  Well my friend pointed me to a great software program called 'Burr Tools'.  It allows you to not only create the pieces for your puzzle, but it can also solve it for you.  Well I wasn't interested in solving puzzles I owned, but in creating my own.  I had an idea for a puzzle cube, where the burr would be internal and unseen and set about creating it.

The next few posts will follow the creation of that first puzzle from it's initial idea, through modelling in Burr Tools, to my first prototype and then hopefully the first finished version created in wood.  Keep checking back to see the progress!

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