Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, February 6, 2021

George and his Burrs

My beautiful lover began his puzzling journey around the age of 10.  His first puzzle was a kumuki barrel burr, and he's been hooked ever since.  His second one was an elephant.  He has a small burr set from many years ago and proceeded to write to the company to tell them they had analyzed it wrong.  Later when he was in college he made his own burr set taken out of Anthony Phillip Hayak's book Puzzles in Wood.  His copy was copied at a library.  It was written in 1923.  For an overview of his burr obsession, please see the 12th day of Christmas on my blog. 

This love of his for burrs caused me to hunt down a number of them for his birthday this year.  The first is the Combination Burr Box by solve-it-puzzles   While the paperwork that comes with the puzzle says there are 49 different solutions for this 27 piece set, the web page lists only 45 solutions.  Interestingly, when put into Burr Tools, some of the solutions given do not have solutions at all.  It's a rather confusing puzzle for the dumb puzzler such as I. As always, George put the pieces into burr tools and found many many more.  There are actually a total of 65 solutions without any holes.  If you do not use the 0 piece (the solid rod), there are no solutions at all. If you you use the rod, for holey puzzles, you can have 2805 solutions.  Without the rod, there are 2,110,585 solutions. That's a lot of puzzle for $54.54. 

The next set I got him was a 42 piece set made by Jerry McFarland. He called it the caramel box when he first made it.  Sadly, there wasn't one left with the box, but Jerry did sell me a set of the burrs.  I brought them to our cabinet maker and he designed a beautiful zebra wood box for it.  This set was also put out by Wayne Daniel many years earlier. Keven writes about it here.

The last burr set I gave him this year for his birthday this year is available at graveraven.  I ordered him all of the 59 notchable burr pieces that have been produced.  Additionally, I ordered Loves Dozen to add to the set. Again, there was no box so I sent this set to the cabinet maker as well.  He decided this one had to be silver and gold. As you can see, there is room for around 40 more pieces in here.  I'm waiting for some good folks to go in on the ordering of pieces before I fill the holes in.  The set up costs are a bit steep.  Or perhaps when George gets his CNC machine up and running he can make his own.  

One of the nice aspects of the boxes that I had made is that there is room along the sides for additional pieces in the case of the wooden burr set, and as for the metal set, the side room is a nice space for finished puzzles. Needless to say, George loved his birthday gifts and spent a great deal of time doing what he does best.  Burr tooling them.  I guess I'll have to up the anti next year.

As a final thought, it really saddens me to see these beautiful burr sets sell as inexpensively as they do.  I mean, the puzzle designer/builder does not seem to get enough for what they do.  The cabinet maker, while he made some lovely boxes, charged at least three times the cost of the puzzles.  It hardly seems fair. I shall quit complaining about the cost of puzzles from now on.  If you know of any sets my beautiful lover doesn't have that he should add to his collection, do let me know.  If you are interested in obtaining the Burr Tools files, give me a message and I'll have George load them for future reference.  

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