December 20, 2011

Havana's Box #1

In the most recent update on Cubic Dissection, I purchased a new box by Eric Fuller named Havana's Box #1: The Chris. It is the first in a series of boxes, each designed to hold a cigar. It is named after Eric's local cigar bar, Havana Deluxe, and Chris is the name of the doorman there. I'm always intrigued by the idea of a series of similar-looking boxes, since it is interesting how many different mechanisms can be used to lock a box that appears the same.

This box is nicely crafted out of quartersawn Sapele, which makes for a box that will be very stable during humidity changes. The darker, striped-looking panel is a cross-grained Wenge veneer, which I think makes it look quite nice. The veneer has not been sanded as smooth as the rest of the box (probably out of necessity, due to its thinness), so the ridges in the grain of the wood can be felt and give you a nice grip when sliding the lid. Both the top and the bottom of the box have this appearance.

As a puzzle, it is not overly difficult but has a few neat little features that I enjoyed. As you open it, you will discover that there is a Free Cuba cigar inside, which seems appropriate! Even more cool is that you can get the box half-open, but not enough to remove the cigar. If it was merely empty, then you may consider it done at this point, but the fact that you can't quite get the cigar out lets you know that you're not done yet.

The locking mechanism is neat, and it takes a bit of fiddling to fully understand what's going on. It is possible to make some progress without quite knowing what you did, but a little trial and error should clear things up. I think it took me about 5 minutes to fully solve this one.

One of the panels was a bit tight when I first opened it, but it appears to have loosened up over the day that I've had it. Also, one of the locks wasn't re-engaging when it should have, allowing me to skip a step, but that problem seems to have mostly cleared itself as well! I guess this box likes my apartment!

Once you know how to solve it, there's an alternate solution that will open the box in two moves (the full solution requires about 8, depending how you count). This shortcut isn't much of an issue though, since you're highly unlikely to discover it before you find the intended solution.

Overall, Havana's Box #1 is a solid puzzle box that I'm glad to have purchased. I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series!


  1. Nice Brian. Thanks for all the wonderful write-ups. I hope all your puzzling dreams came true. Have a Merry Christmas.

  2. Glad you've enjoyed them, Rox! Merry Christmas to you too!


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