The whale puzzle

Jonah and the whale puzzle

This puzzle was designed by Carl Hird-Rutter and was published in the Fall 2006 issue #24 of “Scrollsaw” magazine. Normally I am not interesting with jigsaw puzzles. But this puzzle is interlocking. You must remove the eye for dismounting. I made it from 20×20 mm ready stock and it’s small as a key chain puzzle. I didn’t made the third cut shown on the puzzle plane and I made a small modification on the tail. I cut this one with a hand scroll saw.  I made this puzzle according to a free pdf file published in the web site of this magazine. But unfortunately they removed this file from their web site. If you want make your own whale puzzle you can find cutting pattern from here. For this puzzle you must use a square ready stock. You can scale and print this pattern according to your stock size. Top side of pattern show top view and first cut and bottom side of the pattern is side view and second cut. My eye piece is a thin 3 mm ready stock. You can drill eye piece and cut mouth first. Here there are some step by step instructions for making this puzzle. I didn’t made third cut for obtaining a small Jonah. This is your choice.

Jags and hooks

Jags and hooks puzzle

This is an eight piece puzzle. Four piece is tetramino “L” and other four pieces pentomino “Z”.  according an article this puzzle is the earliest rectangular puzzle formed from polyominoes. There are different problems for this puzzle.

1 The aim of the puzzle is making a 6×6 rectangle. This problem has only one solution.
2 You can make also an 3x3x3 cube by using only 3L and and 3Z piece. This problem also has one solution.
3 You can make a 4×9 rectangle. 1 solution again.
4 You can make a 3x3x4 block. this problem has 13 different solution. You can try to find all of them.
5 You can also find different shapes for this parts and make your own booklet.

A very easy puzzle to make and with different problems it is nice to play.

Tchuka Ruma

Tchuka ruma puzzle or game

Last year, I was browsing a book about traditional games. This puzzle is described as a single player game from Indonesia. This is a simple puzzle. But for me it’s very interesting because this is the first puzzle that I saw with the mechanic of “Mancala games”. I think may be a basic idea for different puzzles with same mechanic.

The rules are as described:
Start position is as seen on the photo. You play this puzzle on a board with six cell or five cell. Five cell version is easier than six cell version. But both of them are good puzzles. Ruma is the yellow marked cell on the board. To start, place two seed in each cell except ruma. Moves are made in clockwise direction.

Pick up the seeds from any cell and drop them, one in each cell, to the next cells, including the Ruma. This is called sowing the seeds. Plan your move so that the last counter does not fall into an empty cell. if your last counter fall on an empty cell you loose and you must restart.

After you have dropped the last seed, pick up all the seeds in that cell and continue sowing as before. If the last seed falls into the Ruma, you may pick up the seeds from any cell and sow them. But if the last seed in your hand falls into a cell that was empty, you lose the game. You win when all ten seeds are in the Ruma.

I am playing now with this puzzle. I am looking for is it possible to play on a board with more cell or start with more seed on each cell. If you like make your own CD in version you can download or preview free PDF file from here (1 MB on secure server, you can print and put in a CD case.

Panama canal

Panama canal puzzle

This is an old sliding puzzle. A simple puzzle to make but fun to play. You start with,
PANAL     empty square at bottom right
And you try to make,
CANAL  by sliding puzzle pieces. The solution of this puzzle require minimum 21 moves. I cut puzzle pieces from 30 x 10 mm ready stock. Each puzzle piece is 30x30x10 mm. For making the try, I used 10×10 mm ready stock and 10 mm plywood. If you round corners a little and chamfer all edges, pieces will slide better. For sliding puzzles, ı advise making the try 2-3 mm bigger than total pieces dimensions. If you want play and test before making this one, you can play online here.


Instant insanity

Instant insanity puzzle

This is a well known and popular puzzle. Invented or patented by F.A.Schosow in 1900. Puzzle patent PDF is here. After produced with different names and shapes by different companies. This puzzle consists of four separate cubes. On each side of a cube there is a color or a symbol. There are four colors( or symbol) for four cube version. The aim of this puzzle is to put the cubes on top of one another in a tower such that each side of the tower will have one from each color (or shape). The colors of top, bottom and hidden faces aren’t important.  I like share here my home made examples. Puzzle pieces are below,

instant insanity puzzle pieces

I made this puzzle from 30×30 mm wooden cubes. I cut them from a 30×30 mm ready stock with my hand miter saw. For ornaments my old technical drawing stencils was very useful. I painted them with color gel pens and applied very thin lacquer. I made also some other versions,


Example on the left has stand and I drilled each cube center. But this version isn’t good to play, second version is made from plastic school cubes. I drilled spots on faces. very easy to make.

This puzzle has also 5 and 6 cube variations produced with different commercial names. Five cube version has five color(or shape) and six cube version has six color (or shape). You can find all information for 5 and 6 cube versions and method for solving them from here.


You can make ornaments on each face also by wood burning. You can see some nice vintage examples from  J.A Storer page.


Big wafers

Big wafers

This puzzle is similar to “Small wafers”. This puzzle has 7 pieces and you must make an 8×8 square. Material thickness is 8 mm and each square is 15 mm. Puzzle pieces are here.

Big wafers puzzle pieces

You can make all pieces by cutting two wooden 2a and 3a wooden strip. I hope you like them.

Small wafers

Small wafers puzzle

After very long time, yesterday I returned back to my workshop for making my two new puzzle design. This puzzle has six pieces. The aim of this puzzle is making a 7×7 square. Puzzle pieces are here,

small wafers puzzle pieces

Making this puzzle is easy. Because all parts has only two different width. You can set your table saw two time and cut  2a and 3a wooden strips. After you can cut all parts from this two strips. I cut all pieces with my hand miter saw. Puzzle pieces are small and cutting them with power tools is dangerous if you haven’t special fixtures. I made this two puzzle (with big wafers) in 4 hours. Material thickness isn’t critical. I used 8 mm thick wood. For my puzzles each square dimension is 15 mm. Choosing thickness approximately as half of square dimension make looks better this puzzle. I used mahogany. Looks like chocolate. I like making saw traces on puzzle pieces. I make nearly saw traces to all my puzzle pieces. I make saw traces with my hand miter saw. I set cutting depth to 1 mm. You can make also with a small hand saw. Making saw traces take time. But puzzle pieces with saw traces looks nice. I make also chamfer to all edges with a sanding block. For this puzzle you can make also saw traces only upper side of each piece.

Saw traces for puzzle piecesI prefer mostly oil finish. A lot of people prefer varnish or lacquer. You can find comparisons for different finish methods on woodworker web sites. An easy to solve puzzle but in same time very easy to make.