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Nut a few sticks, then practice your ABC.
Think twice before taking this puzzle apart. It has six faces, each face has nine squares and each square has letters. They are two complete alphabets out of twelve interconnected parts, all of which are duplicates except one. Having so many duplicates means that any part can go almost anywhere. But because of the letters, each part can only go to one place.
Create the parts
1. Rout 3/4 “x 3/4” long blanks that are absolutely square.
2. Cut the gaps to size to create the 12 parts (Fig. B), including the extras for the trial cuts.
3. Prepare the saw and jig to cut 3/8 “x 3/4” sockets.
4. To make part A, install the wide spacers and cut a nut into a 1-1 / 2 “gap (Photo 1).
5. Switch to the narrow standoffs and cut the nut into nine of the 2-1 / 4 “blanks (Photo 2). Set five of these pieces aside as Parts B.
6. Cut a second nut into the other four pieces to make parts C (Photo 3).
7. Use a large spacer to cut large clods in the other two gaps to create parts D (Photo 4).
8. Very lightly sand the edges and ends of all 12 parts to create the small defining revelations the squares when the puzzle is assembled.
9. Write the center square on the outside face of all parts B and D (Photo 5).
10. Cut the V-grooves on all parts B and D to mimic the smooth openings (Photo 6).
Assemble the puzzle
1. Make three crosses.
2. Slide the crosses together.
3. Install C parts
4. Insert parts D.
Doing this puzzle might be easier than solving it, and once set up, you might as well create multiples. Just think, give each of your children a puzzle (highly motivated and curious) and the house will be quiet for the first time in months!
Without letters, this puzzle is easy enough to solve. Use of different types of wood it’s a way to revive it. Adding numbers makes the solution a little more difficult. But the addition of 27 different characters (26 letters and a question mark) creates the ultimate challenge, especially if their orientation changes on each face. Carving or addressing characters is an option: the puzzle presented on page 49 was routed by the CNC. You could also use stamps or stencils or peel-and-stick lettering – a single $ 5 pack of 1/2 ″ letters and numbers (available at office supply stores) allows you to make four alphabetic puzzles and two number puzzles.
For this puzzle to work properly, each part must be carefully milled and cut. If the joints are too tight, the puzzle will not go together; if the parts fit too loosely, they will fall apart. So, whenever you see a dimension in this story, add the word “precisely” before it.
Dadoes lock the parts together to form the cube. A shop-made jig facilitates cutting (Fig. A). This mask consists of a sled with guides, a clamp and a fence. The guides fit into the oblique slots of the table saw, so the sled makes perpendicular cuts. The wide enclosure houses the saw nut set, for safety. Stop blocks and spacers precisely position the puzzle pieces, so that the nuts are cut precisely. Like the puzzle parts, the spacers must be precisely cut.
To set the jig, lock the stop blocks 1-1 / 8 “from the slot on both sides. Then install the appropriate spacers and secure the puzzle part with the toggle clamp. The nuts must fit snugly, so always create extra parts and start by making test cuts. Testing nut widths and depths is easy enough, because most parts go together with the turn joints. When the dados fit snugly, their widths are correct; when surfaces of the assembled joint are flush, the rebate depths are correct, that’s all; you are ready to go.
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