“Torture”, a 6-piece burr puzzle
I made a 6-piece burr puzzle. The design is named “Torture”, an apt name for this thing the requires 26 moves to disassemble.
I saw a 2-page profile of a master puzzlemaker in Wood Magazine. In that article, there was a picture of one of the puzzles he makes named “Torture”, and it’s 6 pieces. I love a challenge and love wooden puzzles, so I just had to try to make it.
The article had a picture like this one, 6 pieces. from the way they interlock, the width of the piece has to fit inside the long slots in the piece. Since the piece is 5 units wide (3 oak and 2 walnut blocks), the length of them must be 7. So I had the design figured out, the next problem is how to make the pieces.
The way I ended up doing it was using 3 full-length sticks of oak and 4 walnut blocks, then I’d cut the oak to each piece’s shape. Since trimming the walnut back would be very difficult, I made a jig to take up the 2 slots during the glueup, letting me align the inside ends of the walnut blocks. After the glue was dry, I trimmed both ends, cut out the oak inside, and did a lot of sanding.
Since the thickness is exactly the same as the slots, the front and back had to be sanded to allow some clearance. I also rounded the corners and sanding down the edges so that each piece would pass through the others.
Next came figuring out how to assemble it. About this time the thought occured to me – I hope they showed all 6 unique pieces in the article and didn’t have a duplicate. Fortunately, it was all 6 pieces, but after trying for a bit, I went to my computer and googled “torture puzzle” and eventually found a picture of the solution on a japanese website. Some of the moves are difficult even when you know what needs to move. Here is a picture partway in the assembly.
This won 2nd place in beginner accessories in the 2004 Central Texas Wood Artisan’s Show.