post a few weeks ago, when I last visited Eureka I was eyeing a copy of Bill Cutler's Wausau '82. This last Sunday when I was going out to dinner with my parents for my birthday (my birthday is actually today), my they surprised me with it for my birthday present! Thanks Mom and Dad!
As I mentioned before, I had been eyeing this puzzle at auction way back in February of 2009. Bill Cutler says on his website that it was one of his favorite designs (and Bill knows burrs!), so I knew this was going to be a good one. I was quite curious to see what the "lock-picking technique" he described involved.
It was made by Jerry McFarland, so the craftsmanship is superb. The fit is perfect, not too tight or too loose. It has a nice smooth finish and is crafted out of cherry, walnut, and maple.
When I got home, I started working on it right away. Like when I first tried it at Eureka, I got stuck in a cycle of dead-ends and couldn't figure out how to proceed for about 10 minutes. Eventually, I discovered the technique that Bill mentioned. I was a bit surprised that I hadn't noticed it before, since it is similar to techniques I have seen in other puzzles. However, Jerry has implemented an additional mechanism that ensures that you can't stumble upon the solution accidentally.
The tricky part is getting out the first piece, after that, the rest of it comes apart quite easily. At first, I started to keep track of where the pieces came from, but I decided not to be a sissy and scrambled the pieces. I figured it wouldn't be too hard, since the different axes are different colors.
It definitely wasn't easy, but it was doable. I think I got it back together in about 15 minutes. It took me a while to figure out what went where, but the organization is fairly logical. Some of the pieces are identical, which makes the task somewhat easier as well. It was a bit tricky figuring out what order I had to put the pieces in, since they tend to get in each other's way.
Overall I really liked this puzzle. The disassembly was clever: the unobservant puzzler could end up going in circles for a while. I also really liked that this one wasn't a complete nightmare to put back together: I don't like to have to keep track of how it comes apart or risk spending weeks trying to reassemble it (or using BurrTools). Thanks to my parents!
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