Thursday 11 June 2015

Tool Box

About a month back, I wrote about a 3D packing puzzle called "Marble Cake", designed and made by Frederic Boucher. This was very well received and several puzzlers made copies for themselves and a couple more contacted Frederic to purchase a copy. Recently Frederic sent me a new puzzle; a 2D packing puzzle he had just designed and wanted me to have a go at it.

This one is called Tool Box and it consists of a square tray and five odd-shaped pieces. The copy I received is made from Magnolia wood and very well made. There are 3 challenges to this puzzle which consist of packing a combination of four out of the five pieces flat in the tray. Like the Marble Cake, some of the pieces here have half units!

The three challenges are:-

#1 - ABCD
#2 - ABCE 
#3 - BCDE

Doesn't look that difficult right? Well I was clearly wrong! It took me about five minutes to figure out the solution for challenge #1. But even after several days of trying on and off, for some reason, I just couldn't quite figure out #2 and #3. Somehow one of the four pieces would always stick out of the tray! Don't even bother with Burr Tools here; it won't work! Finally I threw in the towel and asked Frederic for the solutions. He duly sent them to me and low and behold, it became one of those situations...." come I missed that layout"? On hindsight, I should have just asked him for a clue to let me keep progressing.

My copy is Frederic's first design prototype and he is already making some design changes, after one of his other puzzle friends discovered that two of the challenges each had two possible solutions. I am sure the final version will be perfect with each challenge having only a unique solution.

For anyone who loves packing puzzles, this one is a keeper and with three challenges, a lot of puzzling to keep one busy. Already I am looking forward to his next puzzle design!


  1. Jerry, thanks so much for the nice review of my puzzle.
    About the challenge No2: the pieces combination is ABCE.

    About the other solutions found for challenge No1 and No2:
    The pieces are tight inside the frame, really borderline.
    As Jerry wrote, I am now working in a final version with unique solutions, and maybe with more challenges... -Frederic

    1. Frederic, i have corrected my mistake for challenge #2, thanks