January 28, 2010


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of trying one of Jerry McFarland's newest creations, Pinwheel, designed by Bram Cohen. John Devost recently added it to the puzzle library over at RenegadePuzzlers.ca and was kind enough to loan it to me.

As you can see, it is a beautiful looking puzzle. It has gone through several design iterations by Bram, which you can read about on the Pinwheel section of Jerry's page. A smaller, laser cut version of this puzzle was used as Bram's exchange puzzle for IPP29.

The version I tried did not have the contrasting woods laminated together like in this picture (all photos are by Jerry). Rather, alternating pieces were made completely out of light or dark woods (I think cherry and walnut), which gives it a striking appearance.
It is made of six identical and quite oddly shaped pieces. I was surprised that it was a bit of a challenge to take it apart. I knew it was a coordinate motion puzzle and just assumed that all the pieces would slide apart fairly easily. Not so! Some manipulation is required before the pieces will slide apart.

It took me a minute or two to figure it out, but I could imagine that it could potentially take quite a bit longer. I just had an instinct about what to do, and it turned out to be correct. My girlfriend was pretty stumped by it, so it is definitely not a trivial puzzle. She also really liked the appearance.

Even after solving it, I had a great time just playing around with the pieces, taking it apart, and putting it back together. There are two dead-ends that you can reach while trying to disassemble it, though I didn't hit these during my attempt to solve it, my girlfriend did.

I think one of the coolest things about this puzzle is the way it was constructed. Jerry machined each piece out of a solid block of wood using a CNC milling machine. How cool is that? I wish I had one and knew how to use it!

Overall, this is a great puzzle that I would recommend. Jerry hasn't set a price yet, but when he does, you can contact him to buy it [Update: the price is $225]. I'll be bringing it down to the New York Puzzle Party in February so other folks can check it out.

Thanks to John Devost for making this review possible! Coming up next, I'll be reviewing some puzzle boxes I got from Bits and Pieces.


Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!

Related Posts with Thumbnails