October 21, 2010

Boxed In by Random Netzley

I recently had the pleasure of trying the latest puzzle box by craftsman Random Netzley of Random Woodworking. It is named "Boxed In" and Random is currently working on a limited run of 8 of these boxes. You can preorder from his website for $300 each. He was kind enough to loan me a copy to review!

As you can see from the photo, it is a striking box. I really liked the use of contrasting wood and it has a nice smooth finish. Its appearance is reminiscent of a framed burr, which made me curious as to how it might operate. Also, Random hinted that the name had something to do with the solution. It is fairly large for a puzzle box at 5“ long, 4.5" high, and 4.5" wide, which I thought was actually a good size for this design.

When I first tried to open the box, it seemed completely impervious. Everything seemed pretty locked down, but eventually I discovered what I thought might be the lid. Unfortunately, that didn't do me much good since it wouldn't budge!

After examining the box a bit more, I discovered the first move, which is fairly unusual. Once I found that, the rest followed fairly logically. There are a total of 3 moves before the box can be opened. The move that actually unlocks the box has a satisfying feeling as you feel it unlock.

After solving it, I could understand better how the name relates to the solution, and it is quite unusual. It isn't something that would help you solve it. This box has a rather novel locking mechinism which I haven't seen before. Pretty clever!

Overall, I think it took me about 5 minutes to solve, and it had a nice "Ah hah!" moment when I found the first move. The only negative that I can think of is that some of the details are not quite "perfect", but you'd have to study it closely to notice. However, as I mentioned before, it looks great!

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more puzzle boxes from Random, he does very nice work and, if this box is any indication, has some interesting ideas as well! Check out the gallery on his website for more photos of both regular boxes and puzzle boxes by Random.

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