An "Impossible" Puzzle

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Project by KnotCurser posted 11-27-2011 12:45 AM 8866 views 32 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided to have a little fun and build this over the last week.

I suppose calling it a “Puzzle” is not quite correct since there is no solution required.

The idea is to figure out how a bolt with two nuts and a washer was able to get itself where it’s at – that’s the part that seems impossible! Yet, here it is.

For those of you (and I will be willing to bet there is quite a few of you) that know how I did this, PLEASE do not post the solution – let others guess as that is the fun of this! :-)

I will offer these clues:

- There was no glue used.
- The wood remaining in the picture was never cut, split nor broken.
- The holes are perfectly centered side to side in the wood and run perfectly level with the piece.
- This is one solid block of wood.
- The bolt is solid as well and has not been tampered with or cut in any way.
- The bolt moves freely, but snugly, in the holes, but of course it has to stop because of the outside pillars.
- This took me over five days to build.
- The nuts and washer? Purely decoration. :-)

The piece measures 7 inches long, around 2 1/2 inches high and about 1 1/4 inches thick and is made from Southern Yellow Pine.

If you are wondering, that’s a 3/8” Stainless Steel Carriage bolt going through two 3/8” holes in the wood.

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

27 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3143 days

#1 posted 11-27-2011 01:11 AM


thankĀ“s for the smile


View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3302 days

#2 posted 11-27-2011 01:15 AM

okay i see how it is…but I have one more question to ask…..does this involve water?

-- M.K.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3716 days

#3 posted 11-27-2011 01:20 AM

Seen the same thing done with a nail , but this is even better : )

steveinmarin would like to see this example , I’m sure .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View WoodSpanker's profile


519 posts in 3420 days

#4 posted 11-27-2011 01:46 AM

Dude, I cant even tie my shoes some mornings, now I have a migraine.

-- Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Woodworker craves not these things!

View NormG's profile


6156 posts in 3032 days

#5 posted 11-27-2011 02:01 AM

Great puzzle

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3584 days

#6 posted 11-27-2011 02:16 AM

Yes, does it involve water, very hot water? You picked a good piece of wood for it.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3097 days

#7 posted 11-27-2011 02:40 AM

Mark and Don,

I am taking the fifth and humbly refusing to answer your water-filled inquires.

However, it WOULD explain why something so simple looking took a week to do….............. ;-)


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 2861 days

#8 posted 11-27-2011 03:30 AM

dude don’t you just put it in hot water, clamp it real tight, then drill and put the bolt in and then put it back in the water so the wood goes back to normal?

this has been done before

-- Ben L

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3097 days

#9 posted 11-27-2011 04:40 AM

Well “Dude”,

That is exactly what you do and yes, it’s been done before – what project on LJ’s hasn’t been done before?

Thanks for ruining it for those who didn’t see this before and were still trying to guess.

Geeeeeez…........... I mean really?

Oh well – as Ben so eloquently stated, I boiled the one end of the soft pine for around 20 minutes or so and cranked it down in a vise. After a couple of days I was able to remove it, drill the holes and place the bolt in. I then re-boiled it and allowed the fibers to expand again to the original shape.

If you would like to see Steve Ramsey (Woodworking for Mere Mortals) do this very trick in his video, refer here:

Thanks again Ben,


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3963 days

#10 posted 11-27-2011 04:50 AM

Bob, Always fun perplexing item. More so for those not familiar with woodworking I have the one I made sitting in my office for people to ponder. I have been contemplating making a much larger version to use as an attention getter at craft fairs next year.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 2861 days

#11 posted 11-27-2011 05:58 AM

sry knotcurser, should have been a little nicer

-- Ben L

View abie's profile


875 posts in 3799 days

#12 posted 11-27-2011 06:12 AM

Nicely executed.
Mine were always drilled a tad crooked.
Love Steve’s site.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3383 days

#13 posted 11-27-2011 10:48 AM

I like the use of the bolt and nuts on this one… very cool…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2530 days

#14 posted 11-27-2011 01:26 PM

As you say, not a new project, but very neatly executed. Well done.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#15 posted 11-27-2011 01:32 PM

I love your fun mystery projects, Bob! Even though I have been woodworking for 15 years, I haven’t seen this one before and I think it is cool and fun. These brain teasers show us how cool working with wood can be and I appreciate you having some fun with us and making us think! Thanks for the smile! :D


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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