October 22, 2009

50-Move Makishi Puzzle Box

As I mentioned previously, I have been corresponding with Matthew Dawson, an avid collector and designer of puzzle boxes, for a while. It was great hearing about his collection, which has hundreds of very cool puzzle boxes, and what he thinks about various puzzles. He knows that I like to get a lot of puzzle for my money, so he suggested that I consider buying a puzzle box from Makishi, who has created a series of some very interesting puzzle boxes.

They have the traditional Japanese puzzle box mechanism, but he has done a great job designing the keyways to make for an interesting puzzle. Also, they are not made from fancy wood or yosegi, so they are quite reasonably priced. Makishi tries to keep the prices low so that his boxes are accessible to more people, which I definitely appreciate.

He makes boxes that range from 8 to 50 moves, and I decided to purchase the 50-move box, on Matt's recommendation. He knows I like a good challenge and thought that this one would keep me busy for a while. Makishi lives in the US, so my box arrived a week or so after I mailed my check to him. I was very excited since this is the first box in my collection that requires so many moves to open.

It had a nice finish with "makishi handcrafted" branded on the side of it. The action was nice and smooth. I was surprised that the box could have 50 moves with only two sliding keys. I played around with it for a while and figured out a few moves, but then got stuck. I took a break after about 20 minutes of trying, so I could approach it with a fresh mind later.

After about 20 minutes of trying to ignore the box, it was too tempting and I had to give it another try. This time, after a few minutes, I found a move that I hadn't previously noticed. It was tricky! Even now that I was making progress, it took me about 25 more minutes to get the box completely open. I was very impressed with the thought that went into it and enjoyed it very much.

Only the top panel is removable, the other three movable panels are not removable unless you take out a small screw that Makishi has put in the bottom of the box. Matt told me that Makishi said not to remove it, so I didn't.  Good thing he told me, because I would have been tempted otherwise! I think the panels fit on fairly tightly, so it might be tricky getting them back in their grooves or something.

Overall, I would highly recommend this box. I haven't tried the rest of the series, but I would definitely consider purchasing the rest after my great experience with this one. He doesn't have a website, but he can be reached by mail. I probably shouldn't post his address publicly, so let me know if you would like me to email it to you.
Tomorrow, I'll write about my experience with a Norman Sandfield puzzle that was loaned to me.

Update: Fellow blogger Oli posted a review of the 50-move and 30-move boxes, check it out!


  1. Removing the screw is perfectly safe, though it does take all the mystery out of it. If you open the box and remove the sides you can see the channels. Also in addition to making great puzzle boxes, Makishi is an extremely happy nice individual, and an unbelievably creative carpenter who seems to make a new tool every week. If you live in south central PA and need a carpenter, I recommend him. Also he came to the states from Japan as a teenager and so his pronunciation can be a little tough, I've always been able to hold conversations with him though. Sorry the comments not more about puzzles.

  2. That's cool that you know him, Seth! I may try removing the screw so I can see the keyways at some point. You can sort of peek in when the box is open, but it would be nice to have a better view.

    Thanks for the info about him, it brings puzzles to life when you know more about their creator.

  3. You can now order and contact him by emailing MakishiPuzzleBoxes@gmail.com.
    Although it is not as easy as ordering from a website, it is a step forward to making ordering easier and is well worth the effort.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Naomi! I've gotten a number of questions asking about Makishi's boxes.

  5. "This time, after a few minutes, I found a move that I hadn't previously noticed. It was tricky!"

    THIS part is exactly where I am at. I was wondering if you could please send the tiniest bit of a clue to me? Thank you so much. I'm going crazy here, lol



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