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John Bailey's Burr Puzzles

John has sent information on using your 'Rat to create these puzzles. A great way to use up those scrap pieces of wood and make some unusual gifts. The Woodrat is just perfect for making them but I have also made some with both a Radial arm and Table saw. If you really want to show off, them make them by hand!

"A burr puzzle consists of several pieces of wood which interlock to form a ‘cross’ shape on three axes. Many different examples are possible, some much more difficult to assemble than others. This is one of the simplest, both to make and to do, but if you’ve got  noisy children or indeed noisy adults and you want some quiet at Christmas, this could be useful to make and distribute.

Six pieces of hardwood are required, nominally 1inch square x 4 inches long. ( in practice about 0.98 inches sq. seems about right, but that could be due to the cutter I use being worn with re-sharpening. Trial and error soon shows the way)

The blanks are mounted in a sugar tong vice (see pics) as a tight fit. All the slots to be cut are with a half inch straight cutter set at half the thickness of the timber on the router turret depth stop. All the slots are half inch wide or multiples thereof .

The slot positions are determined using either a rule mounted on the rat with a Perspex cursor in marker position (see pics) or an Alu guide rail similarly mounted using a half inch cutter shank as a slip gauge (see pics). Both methods work pretty well. In practice I’ve found it better to plunge front and rear faces before clearing out the waste to give less breakout.

Once you are up and running and you’ve ruined your first few pieces, it doesn’t take long to make the puzzles. Fine tuning the cutting depth sorts it out and it’s easy to see where a bit more needs taking off the sides of the slots.

Visit the, The burr puzzles site,  for more information. If you type ‘burr puzzles’ into Google you will find many interesting links and information. On the site you can see examples of burrs and there is even a way of constructing puzzles, by making your own imaginary pieces, using ‘applets’, ( a visit to the site is easier than trying to explain it). "


 

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Here the first piece is mounted in the tongs and ready for the first cut. Note John's home made plate. The handle shows his 'Rat to be an earlier model. I like the innovative stop/rattle removing gizmo fixed to the carriage.

 

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When assembled the puzzle should look like this.

 

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The first piece removed.

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The second piece removed.

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The third piece removed.

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The fourth piece removed.


Yet another idea just mentioned in passing!!

Of course assembly is in the reverse order. This puzzle can be a real challenge to assemble and so the photos have deliberately been left large to make things as clear as possible. The solution can also be found on the burr puzzle web site.

John, you have not only given us a new twist on gifts but shown again your skill in coming up with some innovative ways of modifying you WoodRat.

You can email John here with any feedback or questions.

Many thanks.


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This page was last updated 18/03/2012