Slideways Cube and Cross

Today, I have two different slideways puzzles. These are puzzles that slide together and slide apart and are immensely satisfying to fiddle with. While they are not difficult to get disassemble – they can be a little tricky to assemble as the pieces need to be held in a specific orientation while they are simultaneous moved together.

The first puzzle is the Slideways Cube created by Lee Krasnow. A video of Lee’s cube made its way onto Reddit recently and thus the cube was thrust into the spotlight. 

Thankfully, the cubes are now available in a $15 plastic version at his Etsy website here. The cube is great fun to play with – it feels sort of magical how the pieces go together and come apart. I’ve enjoyed handing the cube to my kids and seeing their reaction as it falls apart in their hands.

I think they are well worth the $15 cost

Overall, not a difficult puzzle to solve by any means, more of a novelty item to keep on the shelf and play with once in a while. I still think its a neat item that would make a nice gift.

Slideways Cube Disassembled

Next up is the Slideways cross from Cubicdissection.com 

This is a really nice piece that is extremely well made. It is a fairly simple puzzle in most respects, but it can be quite tricky if you’ve never manipulated one of these before.

One of the big reasons I love this piece is that the tolerances are so tight that  it can seem impossible to solve. Unless you apply the correct pressure in the correct orientation the pieces won’t move. I have played with this piece for hours and its amazing how little force is actually required to separate the pieces. If you are pushing at all, you are doing it wrong. The pieces have virtually zero friction when moved correctly.

Slideways Cross pieces – such precision

Cubyful 2 – Lucie Pauwels

I purchased this puzzle last week from Cubicdissection.com and let me tell you, its a beauty. The Leopardwood box is georgeous and the puzzle itself is very fun. I particularly enjoy the weight of this puzzle – it feels very heavy in the hand – likely due to the thick walls of the box.

When I first got the puzzle, I gave it a 2 minute inspection (because I couldn’t resist) to get an idea of how it moved/worked. I quickly discovered that the first piece falls right out with no required moves. After the first piece was removed, I could see other pieces below that also were able to move. Clearly, I was going to need some time and focus to work on this puzzle, so I had to plug that piece back in and wait for my window of opportunity.

Last night, that window arrived – the kids were in bed and I had a couple of hours to myself to explore this fine puzzle. I got my space ready, complete with paper and pencil to attempt to map out moves if necessary. The previous couple of days, I had been thinking about Cubyful 2 and how I was going to keep track of the moves – ultimately, I didn’t have any set plan, I just started taking it apart while trying to keep some notes.

This method was an utter failure. I quickly became lost with the movements and the pieces – my notes failed to accurately track what was happening and in the end, I abandoned them and just focused on removing the pieces. It seemed like the pieces were just falling out and I had no clue of their starting position. Down to the last 2 pieces, I had to do an interesting manipulation and then the final piece slid right out.

The locked piece is quite large and takes up 2/3 of the opening

Its a very interesting puzzle in that there is a large fixed piece that cannot be removed and so the box must be packed/unpacked around this piece. This makes for a fun solution that stumped me for a while.

Reassembly was challenging, but ultimately not too difficult once I slowed down and came up with a plan. The hardest part may be getting the first 2 pieces into the box correctly – and I suspect that there are more than one way of loading these first 2 pieces.

Two pieces in the box – how to fit the remaining pieces?

Once the first two are loaded, its a matter of getting the sequence correct and “pre-loading” a couple of the pieces so that they slide into place. The solution now seems fairly straightforward to me, but I did struggle for a while trying to figure out how the heck to pack all these little pieces into the allotted space – over and over again I would end up “one cube” short of the solution.

Finally, I studied the locked piece and thought about the internal space more closely and determined the only available solution and completed the reassembly. Outstanding fun! I really enjoyed this and will definitely purchase more of these packing-type puzzles in the future.

The puzzle is complete!

Wourie – Alfons Eyckmans

I am excited about this one – “Wourie” is a puzzle designed by Alfons Eyckmans and built by Pelikan Puzzles out of the Czech Republic. This piece was part of my first ever order from Pelikan and I have to say, I am extremely impressed with the workmanship of their puzzles. There will be many more posts in the future taking a close look at additional offerings from Pelikan

But today, I’m focused on Wourie. Oh, what an exquisite puzzle it is! The woodwork really is superb. It just feels nice to hold and play with. The puzzle came in two different wood variations – Mahogany or cherry. I chose the Cherry option and I’m very happy with the appearance.

Solving this puzzle takes a bit of work and a bit of time. I decided to take this one slow – I really wanted to enjoy every moment of discovery with this piece and what a fun journey it was!

At first this puzzle seems limited in the possible moves. A piece moves up, a piece moves down, but there doesn’t seem to be any progression. After a few deadends, I discovered a new direction that I hadn’t tried before and sure enough, this led to the solution. I was so excited that I had figured it out that I completely ignored the position of the pieces and the final move – and then it was too late, the pieces were unlocked and scrambled on my desk and I could not remember which order they were in.

A beautiful puzzle disassembled – getting this together again is no easy task!

Well, the description of this puzzle says that “reassembly is a real challenge if you scramble the pieces and leave them a while” and I would have to strongly agree with that assessment. I didn’t leave the pieces a while, but they were scrambled up good so I was left with starting the reassembly from scratch.

Reassembly took me a good 2-3 hours and it is really tricky to figure out. I knew right away which order the pegs go in, after all, I could see the picture on the Pelican site, but I didn’t know what orientation those pegs should go in and I also didn’t know what order or orientation the plates belonged.

So, it was lots of trial and error – many positions could be easily eliminated as possibilities, but there were still lots of potential options available to test out. Fairly early on in the process, I was feeling pretty confident about which pieces belonged where – from that point, it was just a matter of figuring out how to assemble the pieces.

I remembered from solving the puzzle that the natural colored peg came out first, so that gave me some clue as to how to reassemble, but it was still a long while before I finally got it figured out. I kept banging my head on the wall trying the same thing over and over, and of course it didn’t work – over and over. I finally stepped out of my own box and tried something a little different and just like that, it was back together.

Back together again!

Once back together, I slowly solved it again – this time paying attention to the moves – especially the final move (which is devilishly clever if you ask me.) In total, I counted 12 moves necessary to release the first piece and likewise 12 moves to put it back together once pieces are in correct position.

Overall, I love this puzzle. I think its a brilliant design with amazing fit and finish. It kept me highly engaged for many hours. I would highly recommend this puzzle to anyone (if you can get one!) It would look great on a desk or shelf and I can’t wait to share this with friends and family!

Funzzle – Gamma

Ahh, another Funzzle puzzle. This time, its the Gamma. This one looks fairly complex and difficult. Let’s see if I can get it opened.

The first thing I notice is that this puzzle is pretty loose. It doesn’t fall apart, but it does feel like it might fall apart if you hold it wrong. A number of pieces slide back and forth and it seems like there will be a lot of combinations to work through here.

I took the initial, disassembly phase, really slowly. I know I have to put it back together, so I want to pay close attention to what I’m doing. I didn’t want to just wiggle out pieces, I wanted to get the specific moves memorized and accounted for, so that I could reverse things.

With that disclaimer in place, I’ll admit that getting the first piece out took me a while – maybe close to an hour total. There were a few different sequences I tried, but they were all dead ends, then I finally found a sequence that seemed like it would work. At this point, I worked the sequence forward and back a number of times until I felt that I had it memorized. It takes 6-7 moves to remove the first piece.

This was the first piece to be removed.

Once I had the first piece removed, it was easy – or so I thought… Actually, it took me another 15 minutes to remove the second piece. Again, I felt that I could just rattle the puzzle around and eventually the next piece would fall out, but I wanted to be sure I was being systematic, so I returned the puzzle back to the starting point – minus one piece, and then worked out the moves to remove the second piece.

The second piece being removed

Once the second piece was removed, the rest were relatively easy to remove. Once I got down to the final 3-4 pieces, I again focused in on how they were connected. I wanted the best chance to reassemble this, so was trying to really focus and remember these crucial steps.

The puzzle has been deconstructed.

Once I had it apart, I quickly celebrated and then started reassembly. Thing went pretty smooth. The initial construction – putting the 3 white pieces together was a little trickier than I thought it would be, but once those three were correct, it was fairly simple to add the next 4 brown pieces – and thats where things got tricky.

The second to last piece just didn’t want to go. I had everything lined up correctly, I think, but there didn’t seem to be any room. After a bit of head banging, I shifted some things around and it opened up for me. Adding the final piece was actually easy because I had practiced that move so many times that I had it memorized.

Overall, this was a fun puzzle. It is apparently a knock-off of a Stephane Chomine design – I’d love to check out the original – and in fact, I did find a breakdown of the original design here. Its hard to tell, but I don’t see many (if any) difference between the two which would lead me to thinking this is a straight up copy of Chomine’s work, but I could be wrong on this.

Hanayama Infinity

Ok. Gonna do another real time run through with the Hanayama Infinity. I haven’t played with this one before, so this will all be done on the fly. I’ll start on the puzzle and every so often – 5 or 10 minutes, I’ll stop and record my progress and thoughts. Maybe this will reveal something interesting about the process – maybe not. But, its the process of solving these puzzles that I want to capture here. Solving puzzles is about being systematic and exploratory. Lets see if I can get this one solved here tonight.

First off, the puzzle is another beauty. Like most Hanayama puzzles, they are usually bigger and heavier than I anticipate from the picture. This one looks like its made of 3 pieces. 2 circular bearings and an outer casing. One thing that I notice right away is that each bearing has a circular cut-out where the other bearing fits. From the picture, I figures only ONE of the bearings had this cutout, but upon flipping the puzzle, I can see that both have this cutout. 

Ok, lets see if I can discover anything in 5 minutes.

Five minutes in and I haven’t solved it, but I have learned a few things. I’ve been able to manipulate the two bearings a bit and am starting to understand how the puzzle moves. The two bearings are able to rotate around – i haven’t been able to complete a full 360 either. I’ve gotten the stamped bearing to rotate probably 300 degrees, and the blank bearing only about 15 degrees. The bearings also can move up or down and moving them up and down unlocks the turning ability. The sides of the bearings are visible at times and I can see interesting shapes and tracks that are interlocking on each other and preventing or allowing movement.

Solving the puzzle will likely be a matter of knowing the correct position and/or sequence to release the two bearings. I’m not sure if I can take a systematic approach or not. I felt like I was making some progress in the first 5 minutes, lets see what happens next.

Ok, I’m now 15 minutes into this and I feel like I’m getting close. I’m pretty sure I have one of the bearings in the correct location. There is a scallop cutout that is lining up with a protrusion on the case. But, the other bearing isn’t budging and right now it feels a bit stuck. But, I’m hesitant to move the piece that is the correct position. But looks like thats exactly what I’ll have to do if I want to progress.

This puzzle is fun to manipulate, but is a little frustrating because pieces seem to lock up at points. I don’t yet know if this is sequential in any manner or whether I just need to get the pieces into the correct position.

32 minutes and 54 seconds total time, and the puzzle has been solved. I’m not sure if I did things correctly or not. It seemed to me like I could rotate the stamped bearing fairly easily, but the non-stamped one was difficult to move. I ended up moving the stamped bearing around about 300 degrees and then that would allow the non-stamped piece to move about 15 degrees, and I’d move the stamped piece back to the start and that would allow me to move the other piece 15 degrees. I kept at this until the puzzle was solved.

Hanayama Cast Infinity Solved
Sovled! You can see the “scallops” on the inside of the casing

The inside of this one is really cool. Its really amazing to interlock the bearings and move them around and see how they catch on each other and how moving up and down opens up new pathways. Overall, I’m very impressed with the design on this one. It seemed obvious from looking at it how it would work, but its design makes it really challenging. I think I’m going to hold off on putting this back together – I need to understand how the bearings interact better to see if I did things correctly or picked an inefficient solution.

Assembly was pretty straightforward, but still took me a good 10 minutes to complete. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’ll have to complete it a few more times to see if I can really  get a mastery of it.

Hanayama Cast Infinity
Back together again.

Hanayama Cast Elk

Ok, new format. Tonight, I’m going to document the puzzle solving experience. I have the Hanayama Cast Elk puzzle and I’m going to try to solve it while documenting my thoughts every 15 minutes. Hopefully this will capture the process or evolution of solving one of these things. I’m also hoping that I will perform better due to the greater focus required. Anyway, we’ll see what happens.

Begin: (first impression) – My initial though is – “how hard can it be?” I mean it’s only 2 pieces. Surely there can’t be that many ways to manipulate the two pieces, right? Beyond that, the puzzle is another excellent Hanayama. It has good weight to it, it has a nice shiny finish – similar to vortex. And, overall, its just pleasing to hold. Let’s see what I can figure out.

Only two pieces, but still tricky to solve.

Whelp, I solved it in 11:26, so didn’t need the full 15 I guess. It funny, cuz I had the pieces in the final position a few times, but didn’t “make the move” until later on after I had exhausted a few other possibilities. Really, there weren’t that many positions for the pieces to be in, which was making me a little frustrated after the first 5 minutes.

I initially figured out how to move the pieces through each other and felt good, but then I couldn’t progress any further. The pieces were easy to manipulate and many times, they were very close to passing through each other, so much so that I began to think that perhaps this was one of those lopsided puzzles where one protrusion is slightly smaller on one side than the other. I kept chasing this idea for a while – really examining the puzzle to see if there were any anomalies in size or shape. 

Ultimately, I didn’t find any anomolies, the puzzle looked symmetrical, even upon close inspection. So, I went back to manipulating the pieces. After a while, it seemed like I had exhausted the possibilites, so as per usual, I concentrated on doing things different. I was trying to go against natural instincts and move pieces opposite to what was natural.

This technique is something I use all the time in puzzling. Trying the same thing over and over doesn’t usually yield results, so consciously doing things differently often helps.

Anyway, just like that, I had the pieces back in a familiar positions but this time, tried a slightly different move and viola! They separated. 

The Elks have been separated.

After getting them apart, I quickly put them back together again, feeling confident that I knew the secret… except I was wrong… It wasn’t quite as simple as I thought and in fact, I’m confident that I got lucky the first time. Because this time, I was having a harder time finding the solution. It took me a solid 20 minutes to get the darn thing solved again, and I’m feeling confident now that there are in fact some subtle differences in shape and size in the pieces, arms and slots.

Pretty cool puzzle. I definitely don’t have it mastered, i’ll have to solve it a few more times, but it was fun and I liked it a lot – even if I did get lucky.

Funzzle Epsilon

I’ve had the Funzzle Epsilon sitting in a box for a few weeks and last night I decided to give it a go. I don’t have a ton of experience with Burr puzzles, But, I enjoyed the Funzzle Beta, so lets see how this one goes.

Like the other funzzle puzzles this one is made of bamboo. I don’t mind the bamboo – it feels a little cheap, but having some good inexpensive puzzles available is a good thing – I can always buy a pricier Burr if I want.

Anyway, the first 15 minutes with this puzzle was a bit frustrating. One piece falls out immediately, which inspires confidence, but it is quickly dissolved by the roadblock ahead. I fiddled and fiddled with it and came away with only a few possible moves. I couldn’t seem to find any way to free up any more pieces, everything was locked into place regardless of the combinations I chose. So, I put it down.

Later on I returned with renewed focus – once again, I challenged myself to start trying new things, even if they didn’t seem likely. As per usual, this little challenge helped me get the next move. It seems that a rotation is necessary to free up the next piece. After this rotation, I then had many options for movement. It was at this point that I began to fear putting it back together. It started feeling really complicated as to what pieces were moving – As the puzzle gets looser, it becomes harder to keep track of the movements. So, I put it back together, numbered the pieces, slowed down and started taking notes.

I was able to get back to the earlier position and then very carefully moved pieces and kept track of what I was doing. The goal was to figure out how it worked so that I could put it back together – is this cheating? I don’t know what other people think, but I don’t consider it cheating. I’m speeding up the process at which I figure the puzzle out – it seems efficient, but not rule breaking.

Funzzle Epsilon ready to solve
Ready to start pulling pieces out, notes in the background.

A few moves later and I was able to free up all the pieces. As usual, the feeling of solving a puzzle is fantastic and this was no let down. Once the pieces were removed, I breathed a sigh of relief and then assembled it back together. Assembly was pretty easy due to the fact that I had the pieces numbered, I had notes, and also pictures of the near-final state. Maybe the next challenge will be to erase all marks, put away the notes and camera and see how well I do without any aids…

Funzzle Epsilon Solved
The pieces have been removed. You can see my labels on the puzzle.

Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle and I think I may purchase more burr types in the future because they are pretty fun to work out.

Pyrigan #360

Last week, I received a package of puzzling goodness from the fine folks at Sloyd.fi The package took a little while to arrive, but it was worth it!

Inside was the Pyrigan #360 – an intriguing nickel-plated aluminum puzzle with an entrapped turquoise ball. This puzzle is wonderfully crafted and has tons of appeal.

It’s a beautiful puzzle.

8/17 I’m in love with this puzzle. It’s gorgeous, intriguing, and compelling. In my world, this in the pinnacle of puzzling. It’s like holding an alien relic, its full of intrigue and mystique. It’s very well made, it feels heavy and solid and even though I know it comes apart, it is held tight with precision tolerances. It’s begging to be opened. The turquoise ball sits there waiting. You can even touch it – but you can’t have it… yet. I feel like a treasure hunter holding this thing.


I’m going to put in 15 minutes and see if I can discover anything.
Ten minutes in and I am still in love with this puzzle. It is so pleasing to hold and manipulate. Its the perfect size and weight. I’m no further along in solving it, but I do have a few ideas and I have learned a couple of things. I spent a bit of time with my ear pressed up agains each side of the puzzle as I tilted it around trying to decipher what was inside. It sounds to me like there is one very small metal ball along with 2-4 metal rods. Subtle tilts in the 360 will make the small ball roll back and forth, but it takes a bigger angle to make the metal rods shift position.


The other thing I noticed is that if I keep moving it around and pulling and twisting, there are times, were there is slightly more movement/play between the pieces. This leads me to believe that there are several metal rods that are holding this thing together and that rotating/tilting the 360 causes the rods to move. I believe that if the 360 is rotated/tilted/spun in the proper manner, it will open up. There’s not really any other option to open it. I don’t think the blue marble has anything to do with the solution and I don’t believe that I can simply push/pull in an area to open it. There have to be pins on the inside and some manner of moving the 360 will put the pins in the open position.

A close-up look at the seams. Everything is very tight.


8/18 Ok. I have 15 minutes to work. let’s go!….And its solved. 07:29 into the 15 minutes and blammo, she’s a done deal. It happened waaaay quicker than I thought it would. That was pretty damn exhilarating though.. I don’t want to give away the solution, but needless to say, I was manipulating the 360 a bit and it seemed like it loosened up some. I didn’t know if my mind was playing tricks on me, but I could have sworn it was held together very tightly when I first looked at it – now it was a little wiggly. Hmm.. This was encouraging, so I continued the same sort of manipulation and it loosened up even more! At this point I became suspicious that my mind was tricking me, so I stopped what I was doing and tried to reset the puzzle – sure enough, it tightened back up. Clearly I was on to something.


I went back to the original plan and tried again. It eventually loosened up again a bit. So I kept at it and sure enough I could now twist the pieces and create a 1mm gap between them. And then, it was solved. In fact, I think I may have solved it earlier, I just didn’t pull on it correctly.


Inside the secret was revealed, and I have to say – Its really impressive. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s a really clever twist on a classic. My initial prediction of one small ball and 2-4 metal rods wasn’t that far off. And it’s all engineered with such precision – I’m so happy to have this puzzle in my collection and I can’t wait to see what John (the inventor of the puzzle) comes up with for his next puzzle.

The Turoise Ball has been released!

Hanayama Cast Dial

Another fun puzzle from Hanayama! I love these puzzles that seem so impossible at the beginning, but slowly reveal the solution over time. This one was wonderful to solve and is very cleverly built.

At first, it just seems that there is no way to make any progress. There is a triangular frame that is made up of 2 pieces and an internal, rotating “dial” that is also made of two pieces. The only thing that stands out is that the 2 dial pieces have different thicknesses. But otherwise, there isn’t much to go on.

The 2 dial pieces can rotate independently, but it doesn’t seem to affect anything. Its a confounding situation to have a puzzle that seemingly has no entry points. Its also a bit frustrating, because there’s not much manipulation to be had here. A lot of Hanayama puzzles consist of 3 intertwined pieces, so you can at least fiddle with them and change positions – but with Dial, there just isn’t much to play with. You can flip the dial and turn the 2 half, but nothing else.

The first time I picked this up, I didn’t get anywhere. It just didn’t seem like there was anything to manipulate. But, as I resisted this puzzle later on, it came to me that I just had to work with what I got.

I noticed some subtle variations when spinning the dial – sometimes, the triangular frame seemed to loosen up a little bit. So, I played around with this for a while. The hard part here, is that it is difficult to grab the frame. I had a good idea on how it would open, but it was hard to apply  pressure in the right place. Eventually, I achieved the first move. It was glorious to feel this thing open a bit after a few hours of tinkering.

But, it wasn’t over yet. As I tried to open it further, I accidentally closed it again and had to start over. It was a bit of a bummer, but ultimately helped because the second time around, I was more aware of how it was working.

Eventually, I got the thing open and the internal secrets were revealed. Now, all the turning made sense to me as I could see how things worked mechanically.

The Dial has been opened. The backside of the dials hold the secret.

Reassembly was a bit tricky, but it also revealed to me more of how things work. Once everything was positioned just right, I was able to close the dial back up.

Overall, a very fun puzzle that was quite challenging to me.

Hanayama Vortex

What a beast! This puzzle sure looks nice and pretty, but don’t be fooled, its a demon. It took me about a week to get this puzzle separated into its 3 pieces, and I briefly tried to put it back together, but ultimately resorted to a youtube video.

And although I was mighty happy to open this up last night, It wasn’t my favorite puzzle. I think, perhaps, this type of entanglement puzzle just isn’t my cup of tea. 

To find the solution, I mostly played with it for hours. Sometimes it would bind up, sometimes it would feel looser. Sometimes, I would move a piece through another piece and things would “feel” like they were moving in the right direction. Sometimes, I’d execute a seemingly complex move only to result in no perceivable change. 

The big thing that makes this puzzle so frustrating is the actual shape of the pieces. They seem simple, almost like a nice “C” shape, but really, they are more shaped like a closed “6” This makes manipulating them very difficult as the smaller circle is alway blocking the way and getting caught on things.

Ultimately, it just came down to determination. I was starting to loathe this puzzle and getting back to work on it was not a fun thought. So, I decided to bite the bullet and just get it done. I was at the points where the 3 tails were connected, but just couldn’t move forward. 

Finally, something happened and I was able to unlock one of the tails, thus creating a chain of rings, which was easily disassembled. The relief was great – that is until I realized that I had no idea how to put it back together.

Finally got ‘er done.

It funny, I’ve been noticing lately that for every hour of puzzling that I do, I’m actually focused and engaged for only a small portion of that. Seems that my mental state and focus level has everything to do with how quickly I can solve these puzzles. It’s easy to half-ass it and accomplish nothing. Its hard to stay focused, determined and push forward. But ultimately, that’s the only way to get it done.