December 28, 2010

Bits and Pieces Puzzle Boxes (Part 4)

I ordered this next batch of Bits and Pieces puzzle boxes during a sale they were having this month. Even though the puzzles can be a bit hit-or-miss (see part 1, part 2, and part 3), I'm always curious enough to keep buying them. Sometimes you can stumble across a real gem at a good price.

Of this order, I think Secret Drawer Box is my favorite. Bits and Pieces does not say who designed it in the description, which is a bit unusual. It has a nice appearance and a good finish. I tend to like the look of boxes with drawers, and the dark wood knob is cute.

The solution to Secret Drawer Box is not too tricky to find, but could take a few minutes or more. I think it only took me a minute or so, but it could take longer. The solution is fairly unique, but related in some ways to another box I have seen, which is likely why it didn't take me long to solve.

One downside to this puzzle is that you may accidentally open the box without knowing what you did! In that case, you'll find yourself unable to lock it, so now you have a new puzzle to deal with. This isn't a big problem as long as you are aware that this might happen. Definitely a good buy at $15, and it is on sale for $12 currently!

Confidential Keeper is another one that I liked. It is also just listed as 'exclusively designed for us', so I'm not sure who the designer is. The appearance of this one is also fairly good, with inlaid stripes going around the outside of the box. The first move is not well disguised in my version of the box, though it looks much better in the photo, so there is likely some variation.

Despite the first move being poorly hidden, the second move is quite well disguised! I think it took me a good 5-10 minutes to find the solution to this one. It required a bit more force than I would have liked the first time, but after that it loosened up a bit. I showed this to some non-puzzler friends and they also enjoyed it and most were able to solve it after a few minutes. At $15, I think this would also be a good one to pick up while it is available.

Two for two! Unfortunately the next one, Secret Sliding Box by Alan Boardman, was a bit of a dud. The first move is the same as Confidential Keeper (though better disguised), and that is all there is to it! That wouldn't be too bad, but that single move requires a lot of force, though I'm sure there is some variation across individual copies of this box.

On top of that, the hinge in the back is weak, so when I showed this box to some friends, they found that they could unlock the box simply by twisting the lid due to the loose hinge. They thought that this was the solution, which would be somewhat clever I suppose, but it will likely damage the box if done repeatedly. Don't bother with this one!

We continue to Original Kamei Telescoping Square Box, which has a really cool name. I was envisioning some interesting nested telescoping mechanism or something like that. The appearance of this one is not bad, it has light wood inlays in the corner which is a nice touch. I also like the rounding on the top. The base of the box is the same as Karakuri Small Box #4, #5, and #6, if you are familiar with those.

I worked on this one for a good 10-15 minutes before I started to think that I may have gotten a bad box. Fortunately, Kellian was there and was able to take a look at the solution. She said that she was surprised that I hadn't tried the solution already, and indeed it turned out to be something that I had tried! The box wasn't working properly.

Since I knew how the mechanism should work, I was able to devise a way to open it (using improvised tools) despite the fact that it wasn't working correctly. Unfortunately, this wasn't a long-term solution. I'm planning to let Bits and Pieces know that this box didn't work, and they'll probably issue some kind of credit on my account. They tend to be pretty good about these things, which makes the bad quality control somewhat more tolerable.

The actual solution is pretty good, though I'd recommend getting Karakuri Small Box #6 instead. The storage space is smaller, but the quality is way better.

That brings us to the final box of this batch, The Double Octagon Puzzle Box by Jean Claude Constantin. Unlike most puzzle boxes where the challenge is to open the box, the challenge of this one is to put it back together once you've opened it.

The metal screw on the top unscrews, the top lifts off, and the eight side panels fall out of place. Now your task is to put them back! Each plate has two tabs on each end, each of which can be skinny or fat. The lid and the base have holes in them with either tab fitting in the large hole and the small tabs fitting in the small holes.

The appearance of the box is OK, but not as good as other Bits and Pieces boxes. It is clearly laser cut and the finish is a bit rough, particularly on the side panels.

As a puzzle, I found it to be pretty good. You would think that it would be a lot of trial and error, but I was able to make some deductions based on the pieces that were available that sped up my search significantly. I think most will find this to be fairly difficult. It took me about 10-15 minutes to get it back together. Overall, not bad, but not really a standard puzzle box. If you like assembly puzzles like this, then I would recommend it.

In all, I was happy with the boxes I got in this order. I had a good time solving these boxes and will keep an eye out for more in the future.


  1. I still have a "Secret Sliding Box" I bought a few years ago that is still unsolved to this day. In fact, I meant to include it in my recent package to you! I can't solve it even using the solution, it must be defective but I was too lazy to complain to B&P.

  2. Sounds like it is stuck! Maybe the twisting solution will work for you, or you just need to apply more force.

  3. Uhm... (awkward pause) Could you possibly drop me a hint as to the second move of Confidential Keeper? I want to solve it myself, that's more fun, but I have cannot seem to figure out the second step and it's driving me mad.

  4. Hi InDet,

    The second move of Confidential Keeper is pretty tricky, it took me a while to get it. I can give you a small hint if you want to email me with the Contact Me link on the right up above.


Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!

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