I was really psyched after solving those two Hanayama puzzles and went on the web to learn about the rest of the Hanayama series and plan my next purchase. I ended up stumbling upon Richard Whiting's site, which has lots of information on Hanayama puzzles. In the My Creations section of his site, I discovered what looked like a nice little puzzle called Stacked Sticks that he had made out of popsicle sticks.
I tried using a sharp razor to score and then snap the pieces, but that was taking far too long. Next, I tried a set of wire cutters that actually worked pretty well, aside from flinging the stick across the room every now and then.
Stacked Sticks is a great little puzzle, too bad the designer is unknown. It has four pieces that are all different, though they all have a similar profile. Also, I liked how you needed to disassemble it into two halves before the halves could be divided into their smallest parts. As I would later discover, it was similar to a number of other puzzles in that you need to have your fingers in just the right position for it to pull apart.
I played around a bit with the different ways that the two halves could slide apart. Initially, I wanted alternating sticks to slide in opposite directions, but unfortunately this makes the resulting pieces and disassembly less interesting. So instead I ended up going with a design where the two sticks on the outside edge went one way and the three inner sticks went the other way.
I brought the completed puzzles in to school for my friends to play around with and learned some important lessons about glue: Elmer's just doesn't cut it when somebody is prying away at your creation. I got some real wood glue and it held up a lot better, but I still had to make sure to tell people that the pieces don't pry up: it slides apart.
So that was my first puzzle design experience. I was pretty bummed that I didn't have a table saw handy to start making some more interesting things, but thought that I could give that a try over Christmas break. For now, I wanted more puzzles to solve!
Coming up next: a chance encounter with another budding puzzle aficionado on the Boston subway.
19 hours ago