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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Aluminium Dovetails (Wil Strijbos)

Here are a pair of puzzles recently designed by one of my very favourite puzzle designers; Wil Strijbos. And in true tradition to many of his latest creations they are beautifully precision machined from solid aluminium.

 They are called the Aluminium Dovetails, and although they are not sold as a pair I would definitely consider owning both of them if you were to ever decide on getting them.
They do look extremely similar. Both have a milled aluminium finish with a green anodised finish on the aluminium dovetail centrepieces, but if you look a bit harder you'll notice that although the dovetails look the same from the side angle the top view shows one of them having a concave cut to the top surface and the other having a convex cut.

Surely these are impossible objects! There is no way that a dovetail joint can be put together unless the join is straight. At least that's what I would've said if I hadn't already seen the designs of the Sandfield brothers, but I now know that simply because a join looks like a simple dovetail it doesn't mean that it is.

The anodised pieces will move a tiny fraction in the main body, but they refuse to move any further. The puzzle mechanisms used in these are an old friend of the seasoned puzzler, so the solution is unlikely to elude for too long a time. Despite the fact that these are not difficult puzzles it is a real treat to see the look of confusion on people who study the dovetails before claiming that there is no way that these could even have been put together, never mind taken apart.

It is worth mentioning that the mechanism used in both puzzles do work on the same principle with a slight twist to tell them apart. The puzzles are also numbered in sequence as a form of serial number to show how many were made before yours. Since these come from Wil I shouldn't need to mention that the quality is second to none, and that coupled with his design skills make this a pair of puzzles worthy to be in any serious puzzlers collection.

Edit: This puzzle is now also available from Sloyd in Finland.


  1. Hi Oli,
    I am afraid I'm completely stuck on that one. Would it be possible to get a hint?
    Thanks much!


  2. I'm happy to give hints when needed. Contact me using the 'Contact' tab at the top of the page.

  3. I just loaned out my dovetail puzzles to some very inquisitive college people in the Delaware area and sent them in your direction. They don't need help but they will beg mercilessly until the figure it out for them selves.

  4. i am one of the Delaware college students and I have been up all night thinking of how to manipulate this puzzle...thanks a lot, Paul! :)

  5. Darn u!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paul grrrrrrrrrs!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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