Saturday, 22 July 2017

Sliced Puzzle Ball

The Sliced Puzzle Ball (SPB) designed by Vesa Timonen is probably one of the smallest interlocking puzzles around and certainly the smallest in my collection. 

I had met Vesa the first time during IPP33 in Tokyo, Japan and he was really very kind to gift his SPB (his Exchange Puzzle) to me. Measuring only a micro 16mm in diameter, it consist of 6 flat "board burr" pieces with curved edges and when joined together becomes a perfectly round ball. The SPB comes with its own nice little felt-lined gift box.

Sliced Puzzle Ball next to Cast Loop
In case you don't know who Vesa Timonen is, he is a well-known designer of a number of Hanayama Cast Series puzzles including the Infinity and the famous Loop. I also have one of his less common (but unusual) puzzle called the Onion.

My copy is made by Shapeways out of white and pink dyed nylon. The SPB is currently also available (at a much larger size of about 3+cm) for sale together with some of Vesa's other puzzles listed.

When I first played with it back in 2014, I struggled with the solution and couldn't figure how to disassemble it without breaking seemed so fragile! Needless to say, the handling of such a tiny puzzle was extremely fiddly and I kept dropping it out of my fingers.  I emailed him for a solution but Vesa didn't have a step by step one instead he directed me to his Shapeways listing which showed the 6 pieces separate in an exploded view. He also indicated that some force may be necessary for the initial move. Even with that, somehow things appeared to be stuck and I couldn't take the ball apart. 

Fast forward 3 years later and this second time round, I gave the SPB another go. I finally managed to take it apart, albeit with some force... the nylon is surprisingly resilient! Thankfully nothing broke. Putting it back together was unexpectedly much easier and strangely it didn't require any force...the pieces "just slid together" back into the shape of a ball, once the pieces were in their correct orientations and positions.

I tried to configure the puzzle using Burr Tools but the programme didn't come up with any solution. Again, not sure if I got the specs correct into Burr Tools. Maybe that's why the need for some force!


  1. Hello Jerry
    the absoult smallest 6 Piece Burr in my collection is made by Alan Boardman and has only8 mm and you can it disassamble in pieces