Tag Archives: Burr

Stand Py Me

Stand Py Me is a new puzzle from Gregory Benedetti. It’s familiar shape is similar to Stewart Coffin’s Three Piece Puzzle, however it comes as four pieces (plus the stand) not three, and every bit as challenging to solve.

Stand Py Me by Gregory Benedetti

Stand Py Me by Gregory Benedetti

This version was made by Eric Fuller, and stands at 2.75″ with a Wenge frame and Zebrawood and Maple blocks to make the pyramid shape. Gregory comments that the name is a play on words; the Py, not coming from Pi (3.14159265…) but Pyramid. It’s as though a Pyramid is saying “Put me on a stand”. Well regardless of how it was named, it’s a fun name, and really fun puzzle.

The blocks which make up the puzzle are all joined on a half face or quarter face making for some interestingly shaped pieces. The puzzle is made significantly harder by the addition of the frame. It’s fairly easy to create a pyramid of the blocks outside the frame, but doing it so that the pieces are captured inside the frame is a lot tougher.

Four pieces, plus the frame.  Signed by Eric

Four pieces, plus the frame. Signed by Eric

To get all the pieces in place, you need to move them around much like a standard Burr puzzle, which leads to a 5.1.2 solution. In case you’re not familiar that means 5 moves to insert the first piece, one for the second and 2 for the third. So it’s a tricky puzzle, and took me around 40 minutes to solve it the first time. Now knowing how the pieces fit it takes just a few seconds, although I keep putting the pieces in ‘upside down’ so I don’t end up with the Zebrawood pieces in the corners the way it was made to be.

Having solved it, I modeled the puzzle in Burr Tools, and it confirms the 5.1.2 difficulty, and also points out that there are 2 solutions (not including rotations) but only one assembly.

Eric made 30 copies of Gregory’s design and has signed and dated them. I picked mine up at a recent Puzzle Paradise auction, although they all went very quickly. This is a really well made puzzle, and the choice of woods really shows it off well.

Interestingly, the puzzle doesn’t hold itself inside the stand overly well, and wants to fall out of the gaps, meaning that you really need to turn it upside down and hang it to get it to keep its shape. Not a problem, but it is something that even Gregory admits himself.

Cast Rattle

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

Cast Rattle is another excellent puzzle from the Hanayama Cast series of puzzles. This particular puzzle is designed by Bram Cohen. The highly chromed, clinking puzzle challenges you to separate the four joined pieces, then put them back together, before you drive your significant other insane from the rattling. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.

Cast Rattle by Hanayama

Cast Rattle by Hanayama

As other people have already commented in their reviews, this puzzle really lives up to its name. The four identical pieces rattle and clink with each and every touch of the puzzle, and most attempts to silence it will prove to be futile. The chromed finish is very slick, and there is very little friction between the pieces to keep them in any particular spot. Have a look at Kevin’s review and Brian’s review to see what they had to say about this puzzle.

If you’re familiar with the cast series, then it will come as no surprise to find that the name of the puzzle, and Hanayama’s name are laser etched onto one of the pieces. This puzzle is no exception and lives up to the high quality that we are familiar with from the Hanayama series. It’s a solid puzzle with a good weight and excellent fit and finish. Despite its small price tag, this is a high quality puzzle.

Cast Rattle closeup

Cast Rattle closeup

At its smallest, the puzzle is around 1.5″ square x 1″ high. The pieces fit very loosely together which adds to its tendency to rattle, but there’s really no unnecessary movement here. Moving the pieces around in relation to one another, you can see everything, making this another ‘perfect’ puzzle.

You may not realise it, but this puzzle is actually a burr puzzle. Don’t let that put you off though. I know that many people are not a fan of burrs but this is a great puzzle and you’d be missing out if you passed it by. The loose connection of the pieces, and the ability to see all parts of the puzzle make this a rather unique burr. Nothing hidden from you and yet something keeps the pieces locked together.

With nothing hidden, it should be easy to see how it should open, right? And this is where the frustration sets in. Idly fiddling with the puzzle in your hands is unlikely to see you opening it any time soon. Tugging and pulling wildly at the pieces in the hope they will pop apart also won’t yield particularly impressive results. A more structured approach (and a level surface) help in solving this one. You can see from looking at the pieces and how they connect that all you need to do is line the pieces up, and they should fall apart. The beauty is that the pieces are so accurately made, that the alignment has to be spot on for that to happen.

Cast Rattle pieces

Cast Rattle pieces

I’ve given this puzzle to a few different people to try to solve, and most have managed. The interesting thing is that each person approaches the puzzle differently, and as such I’ve witnessed a couple of solutions. The most Neanderthal solution involved holding two pieces and shaking until things fell apart, to the other end of the scale where carefully aligning pieces on a desk and gently repositioning with a pencil until the top two could lift off. Interestingly both were successful!

After I solved this for the first time, and could look closely at the pieces when I was re-assembling the puzzle, I noticed something very interesting. That led to what I consider to be a very elegant solution. Taking a couple of tooth picks and carefully placing them between the pieces, you can precisely align them, and separate the pieces with minimal effort. I wonder if this was intentional when the puzzle was designed or just luck!

The effect of such a precise construction, and low friction surface is that even when you’re putting the pieces back together, almost as soon as the pieces touch, they will move out of alignment locking themselves together again.

Hanayama rates the puzzle as a level 4/6 and Puzzle Master a level 8/10 – Demanding. I have to say that these are spot on. It’s a challenging puzzle and could keep you rattling away for hours if you don’t look carefully at the pieces and their interaction. Even after solving it, and knowing what you have to do, this still provides a challenge every time you come back to it. I highly recommend Cast Rattle for all ages and level of puzzle solving, although I’d suggest not handing it to the baby!

The Strijbos Metals

Despite the slightly cryptic title, many puzzlers will already know what I’m talking about. Hailing from the Netherlands, William Strijbos is a name familiar to many puzzlers. His aluminium puzzles are probably his best known, but by no means his only puzzles. Wil also designs bolt puzzles as well as a fair share of coke and whisky bottle puzzles as well.

Wil's Aluminium Puzzles

The collection of Aluminium puzzles from Wil Strijbos

I recently purchased Wil’s Cross puzzle from John Devost through Puzzle Paradise and at the same time had ordered Wil’s Aluminium burrs and his Aluminium Cylinder directly from Wil.

I’ve had the Cross for a few weeks now, but at the weekend, the rest of the items arrived from Wil. As much as Wil knows about designing puzzles, he also has a good supply of packing tape, as there was no box visible on his package, it was so well covered in tape. Guess Wil was expecting rain as this one was watertight!

I’ll be reviewing all of these fairly soon, so keep an eye out for that, but until then, rest assured that these are excellent puzzles, and well worth owning. If you are interested, drop me a message and I can pass on Wil’s details.

If you’re interested, despite the identical external appearance, the Burr on the left is the 10 move burr which is a version of the ‘Piston Puzzle’ by Peter Marineau and the one on the right is a version of ‘Gaby Games’ designed by Phillipe Dubois.

All the puzzles are incredibly high quality, and beautifully made. Well worth having in the collection. While the Burr’s are not new designs, their construction from Aluminium does add to their appeal, and the fit is excellent, making them worthy of note.

Yin & Yang

Yin & Yang is another Puzzle Master metal puzzle designed by Doug Engel where the object is to separate and re-assemble the pieces. Thanks Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.

Yin Yang

Yin Yang

This is a fairly solid metal puzzle, with a reasonable weight to it. The anodised metal parts look great with the contrasting black and silver pieces, cut from solid aluminium. Rated as a Level 5 (Easy) puzzle by Puzzle Master, I have to agree. Taking this puzzle apart isn’t too difficult, and putting it back to its original shape is also fairly simple as long as you work in pairs.

Yin Yang Pieces

Yin Yang Pieces

The two sets of pieces are well made, and although the fit of the assembled puzzle is loose, it does hold itself together fairly well, and looks good sitting on the puzzle shelf.

Handing this puzzle around to a few friends, it’s not caused anyone any issues in being able to solve or re-assemble it, but most people like the look, and are surprised by the weight when they pick it up. This is a nice beginner puzzle, and although there may not be much in the way of re-solving, it will make a nice present for new puzzlers, or for father’s day if you’re still looking for something.

The Ball Puzzle (Charles O. Perry)

I received my copy of “The Ball Puzzle” by the late Charles O. Perry today from PuzzleMaster. They currently have both the brass version and the perspex version for sale. Since these aren’t being made any more to the best of my knowledge, they may sell fairly quickly, so if you’re interested after reading the review I’d suggest picking one up as these will be limited in numbers.

The Ball Puzzle by Charles O. Perry

The Ball Puzzle by Charles O. Perry

Charles is probably best known for his mathematical scupltures which can be found throughout the USA and abroad, so owning one of his sculpture based puzzles, created by him is quite special.

The first thing that struck me about this puzzle is the size. It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be at around 1.5 inches at its widest. Even though it’s small, given that this is solid brass it’s still a heavy puzzle. Warning: Don’t drop this on your toes!

The puzzle comes with a heavy canvas bag (the puzzle is sitting on it in the photo) and is etched with Charles’ signature on the solid piece.

As you’ll see from the pieces, this isn’t a difficult puzzle, and it’s not going to take long either to disassemble or reassemble it. I think with this, it’s not the difficulty that’s the interest, but rather the overall shape and weight of the puzzle that appeals. The brass is well polished and as such really reflects the light so it’s going to look good on the puzzle shelf, although at such a small size, it may be easily lost amongst bigger pieces. This wouldn’t be out of place hanging on your Christmas tree.

Puzzle Master ranks this as a Level 7 (Challenging) puzzle, but if I’m honest it’s only a Level 2 at best. There’s only really one way that the pieces go together, and it’s not going to take even the newest of puzzlers long to solve it. As I mentioned though, I don’t think that’s really the charm of the piece. Edit: After handing this around at work today, I’m going to revise my original thoughts. This seems to be a little more difficult than I originally thought and it took a fair few people a good 10 mins to solve this. With that, I’ll say it’s probably a 3-4, but still not near a level 7.

One nice touch is that the solid piece has a sprung ball bearing in the centre which ‘locks’ the final piece in place, and adds just enough friction to stop it sliding out under it’s own weight. It may not seem like much, but it’s addition finishes the puzzle nicely.

If you’re looking for something a little different either to add to your collection or as a gift, then I’d recommend either the brass or perspex versions. There aren’t many people who’ll have one of these, and they are a nice talking point sitting on the coffee table.

Did I mention wood?

So a little while back I mentioned that the next step for the puzzle project was to create the puzzle in wood. Lego is great for the first prototype and to check that things are working as expected, but without glue, it’s not holding together as well as I’d like.

So with my tools at the ready, I set out to create my first wooden puzzle!

Initially, I did use the band saw to cut out one of the pieces for the burr puzzle I designed, but on reflection I found that there were two things that aren’t ideal. I currently have 3″ x 3″ cubes of Douglas Fir. The wood looks great finished, but working with it, I’ve found a few issues. The end grain is very hard. That means that cutting the wood isn’t easy. It seems that the band saw goes through it rather quickly in one ‘ring’ then the next ring the blade has to work a lot harder. That means that cutting the detailed shapes I need isn’t easy. The other problem is that I still need practice!

So I decided to go with a simpler basic 3 piece burr to get some practice working with the wood, and also to get practice until I can find a better wood to work with than the Douglas fir I have just now.

Sorry for the bad picture. I took this quickly with my phone, and really need to take a better picture, but at least you can see the result.

Overall, it’s not a bad first attempt. The pieces are snug, and the gaps between them aren’t too bad. I’m not going to win any awards, and I’m certainly not going to be selling it any time soon, but I’m happy enough as a start.

Next step is getting back to the main project and putting the puzzle together. Unfortunately, that has taken a back seat as I’ve had another woodworking project to take care of, which is building some raised vegetable beds for our yard. Still should be able to get back to things in the next few days.