Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Rattle

The Rattle.

Stewart Coffin

Eric Fuller. Website 35 copies were made, each priced at US$64, but all have been sold out.

Type & Classification
3D packing puzzle (with a twist)

6.7cm (Length) x 6.7cm (Width) x 3.9cm (Height)

Materials & Construction
The box is made from Canarywood, Marblewood, Quilted Maple, Bamboo and Acrylic. Eight loose pieces of different shapes made of different exotic hard woods; Ipe, Bocote, Ash, Purpleheart, Ebony, Yellowheart, Paduak, Rosewood. Construction fit and finish is excellent. The Rattle is built to very tight tolerances as one will discover once playing starts. 

Henry Strout's IPP29 (2009) Exchange Puzzle in San Francisco


Sorry, no photo of solved box as the arrangement of the
pieces seen through the acrylic will give away too many clues
The object is the pack all seven irregular shaped individual pieces into the box through a rectangular slot at the corner of one of the sides...with no protrusions (see photo below). Unlike the more traditional style packing boxes, this one comes with two transparent surfaces (made of clear acrylic) adorning the top and bottom. This gives a very clear view of the (colourful) pieces inside the box. The eighth piece, an L-shaped Yellowheart cannot be removed and remains inside the box.

The 1 x 2 vertical slot for inserting the wooden pieces.
The little round "circle" at the top corner is the Bamboo
reinforcement to strengthen the structure of the box
To solve the Rattle, two major hurdles have to be overcome; firstly, getting the loose pieces into the box taking into account the Yellowheart piece that is trapped inside. Secondly, because the tolerances are so incredibly tight, this severely limits the manoeuvrability of the various pieces inside the box. You may not be able to turn or rotate the pieces easily, especially once the box has been filled with some pieces already. Thus, careful planning on how to insert the pieces in which particular order and deciding the ones that need rotation is crucial.

Difficulty Level
Very challenging and difficult but not frustratingly so. It took me two evenings to figure this one out. One way is to think outside the play with the pieces outside the box to get a sense of how the pieces may be orientated and arranged (but don't forget to make space for the Yellowheart). This would minimise the headaches of later trying to extract a piece  from the box that was wrongly inserted or rotated, which can be quite arduous given the the tight tolerances of construction.

Overall, a very nice well made 3D packing puzzle. From a puzzling stand point, a rather unique and different way to pack pieces into the box which adds greatly to the challenge. A lot of aesthetic appeal given the contrastingly colourful hard woods can all be clearly seen through the top and bottom lids. In the solved state, the Rattle displays very well.


  1. I love mine! It is sitting just above my head infront of me! There are at least 2 solutions to find.


  2. Kevin, two solutions? Wow, I had enough difficulty just figuring out one!