Thomas Moeller is metal machinist and woodworker based in Vancouver, Washington, who makes puzzles. Many of his creations are burr puzzles, which are been around for hundreds of years. They have at least three pieces that intersect each other at right angles. The typical burr puzzle is made from wood and has six to eight pieces that are notched, rectangular sticks. When put together correctly, the pieces can form a cube, star, snowflake, polyhedron or an object resembling the burr from a plant. Burr puzzles are also called puzzle knots, Devil's knot and the Chinese cross.
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Lay out all the pieces. Most puzzles are identified by the number of pieces they contain and the final shape they make, for example, a six-piece burr.
Look for a piece that doesn't have any inside cuts and that will slide into the finished form to lock all the other pieces together. This is usually the last piece of the puzzle.
Look for the pieces that will form the outer edge or corners. They will be smooth on that side.
Start combining pieces and rotating them until you find the correct position for each one.
Tips and warnings
- Most manufacturers will send you solutions to the puzzles they sell.
- There is usually only one correct solution per puzzle.
- Consider using a computer program to help you solve the puzzle, such as IBM Research's applet or Andreas Roever's Burr Tools.
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