# Japanese Puzzle by LBD

 Project by LittleBlackDuck posted 02-24-2019 03:21 AM 1561 views 7 times favorited 19 comments

Boys and Girls,

This is my take on what many authors refer to as a 日 本 の パ ズ ル. Now rather than be a sheep and follow in everyone else’s footsteps, I will call mine a Japanese Puzzle.

You can also use them to learn to count to “F”… or even a starter Jenga set.

A friend wanted something to make restitution with his wife for forgetting their anniversary. His wife is puzzle mad (well mad into puzzles not puzzling mad) so he asked if I could make him one of these Japanese teasers he came across in an Australian woodworking magazine. He wasn’t concerned about the looks (the puzzle… not the wife… hmm?) and would have been happy with a 3D printed version (maybe a next project for myself) as long as it worked. After heated debates about the type of timber, we somehow compromised on MDF.

While this project is presented with a laser cut MDF stunt double in the starring role, don’t freak out if you don’t have any MDF… or even less if you don’t have a laser laying around.

All cuts/dados are “straight lines” with simple dimensional mathematics, so a tablesaw and/or dado-stack/router will substitute for a laser.

While the original dimensions called for 15mm x 15mm² stock, my laser will not handle timber much thicker than 7mm, so with minimal persuasion I chose to make the parts out of 6mm MDF laminations. Now using all 10 fingers, for simplicity I chose 4 layers of 6mm MDF which worker out to 24mm x 24mm² stock (4×6 = 24… even for large values of 6)… more on this later.
Now that I’ve answered the lamination question you may not have asked… and if you might ask why MDF?... the answer is that I was too bloody lazy to mill up some 6mm thick solid timber (for laser cutting) and even lazier to go the solid timber path.

The first step was to draw up the parts in SketchUp,

This had to be followed up by the assembly/solving. Now the copy of the magazine was such small print that when zoomed in put it totally out of focus.
Let me tell you, trying to rotate a computer screen is just a tad more difficult than bits of timber in the hand… After many frustrating hours, I realised one of the parts was accidentally flipped and there was no way it was going to assemble. Having realised my error, I flipped the part back and took a mere 2 more hours to successfully assemble it… just kidding, but still took quite a few minutes,

I did colourise the parts to assist in interpreting the assembly procedure/sequence

Now the measurements were ideal for cutting out of solid timber and should be relatively simple, however, I chose to laser it out of MDF.

To allow for 4 layers of 6mm MDF, I had to upscale the original parts by 1.6. This made the length too long so after the 1.6 increase I shortened each end ( of each piece) by 40mm.
As I laminate MDF, I use alignment dowels to prevent slippage during glue up,

Now for the morphing from SketchUp,

through Layout (SketchUp Pro complimentary software), CorelDraw and my Trotec laser print software, the parts were cut,

Part of this morphing process was to create a layout document with enough measurements to layout and cut on conventional machinery.

While on the laser, I engraved a part number (well actually a letter) to identify each piece in case one needed to refer to the cheat sheet (solution).

Used a PINEWOOD font which I kinda like for text on timber,

The letter were engraved on the “inside” of each part so it would not be noticeable unless you are either observant or Superman (welcome to earth Kryptonian).
Did a dry assembly of individual parts,

Time to disassemble which was a pain as the dowels tended to grip on the laser cut surface and fought back for its life.

Glued and clamped…

one can never have enough clamps,

Time to trim the protruding dowel,

and sand,

Tested parts compatibility and sanded/scraped any protrusions and glue squeeze out.

Tried to assemble and even with the instructions it took longer than a timing that would make me proud.

After a severe tung lashing I left it out to dry. Being MDF, it should dry in a day or so

and I can rid myself of this nuisance and take my frustration out on a cask or two of vino. I considered giving it a shellacking but took pity on it and decided to beat the shit out of it with my 3 step buffing routine,

Somehow it still managed to shine,

The friend started talking about a 日 本 の 箱 パ ズ ル (Japanese Box Puzzle) to store this gift in… I told him that I’ll make him one for atonement if he forgets his diamond anniversary… as he is recently married, I don’t think I have too much to worry about for a long, long time!

Did make a video... but only to prove that I know how to put it together….

If you don’t know SketchUp but still like looking at dirty pictures check this out and if you know SketchUp, the models can be downloaded from here. However, as always, SU provides a quick presentation for those that hate reading (so don’t read the above) and have no intention of making one of these but curiosity got the better of them… GOTCHA!.

And to think this was gonna be a short article?

This puzzle reminds me of a motor… everytime I pull one apart and rebuild it, I have parts left over….

I have dismantled and rebuilt this puzzle so many times that I had enough pieces left over,

to assemble another one.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD