wood and string puzzles

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Project by NotaJock posted 01-20-2016 06:35 AM 3378 views 6 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve seen several versions of the upper left puzzle in the first picture posted on LJ and thought I’d share. I think of this puzzle as the popsickle puzzle because it was first introduced to me in Cub Scouts where we learned to make them from popsickle sticks. You’ll notice that the other three puzzles in said pic have three holes for the string to pass through. This gives a second solution to the puzzle and all three are in various stages of the solutions. The challenge to the second puzzle is to get the ring off. For this to work the ring must not fit over the large end of the arrow, the paddles on the ends of the string must go through the slot and the beads must not go through the slot. In the third pic the puzzles on the left are the same but have been rearranged so that the half balls can face each other or be back to back. Each can be manipulated to the state of the other. On the right half of the pic are opposite sides of identical puzzles. Hopefully there is enough detail for you to duplicate the puzzle. In the 4th pic, the challenge is to remove the ring but that’s just to make it confusing the puzzle is just as dificult without the ring as the version with 2 large balls demonstrates. The puzzle in te last pic is similar to the blocks in the 3rd but the string is captive, not a loop but buttons on each end. I’ve been playing with this type of puzzle since childhood. They’re called entanglement puzzles, play with one for a while and you’ll understand why. These are not really difficult to solve. The arrow and ball and string, pics 2 & 4, being the more difficult while the block and string are the simplest. For those of you with a store, these puzzles typically sell for $15 to $25 each but are not often seen in stores. Since I’m Notajock the rings here are hammered copper wire with the joint soldered. I expect some of you jocks will make the rings of laminated hard woods.

-- Mike in SoCal

2 comments so far

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119 posts in 1911 days

#1 posted 01-20-2016 07:21 PM

Mike, these are GREAT! But my brain is not working today and so I can’t understand the instructions. Do you sell these yourself? I have about 30 after-school students who are always looking for brain teasers and I love to provide things that make them think.

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

View NotaJock's profile


157 posts in 1335 days

#2 posted 01-21-2016 12:31 AM

Gosh I can’t understand that. Since I wrote the instructions they seem very clear to me. ;-)
Tell me which puzzle is giving you problems and I’ll try to be more explicit.
Dad was an electrician and made us a couple of puzzles out of coat hangers. Since then I’m always on the lookout for puzzles new to me. Some of these have been around for hundreds of years. I’ve about 30 puzzles made of bent wire. I’ll see one in a store, make a sketch then go home and try to duplicate it. This approach works very well for a guy without much money and often makes for 2 puzzles, how to build it and how to solve it.
No I’ve never sold one. Normally just gift them to kids though on one job I found one of the programmers was so enthused I ended up making him a full set which kept a large portion of the company entertained. I’ve wondered if I caused the company to fold by distracting so many people from work. Nah. All but 4 of the ones in this article were made expressly for this show and tell.
If you Google ‘entanglement puzzles’ you’ll get lots of hits and this site ‘’ is dedicated to puzzles of all sorts.

-- Mike in SoCal

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