...the occasional ramblings of a bloke who enjoys being puzzled...
Sunday, 11 May 2014
thing’s a beast.
has 66 pieces.
moves to get the first piece out.
it’s a classic!
Bill Cutler began developing this design in the early 1960’s, with the first version
seeing the light of day around 1965. It was specifically designed to be a burr
that was hard to take apart, as well as put together. Another two versions
followed over the next four years with the third version becoming known as “Type
A” – or this particular version. (Several more versions have appeared over the
years… all intended to be even harder!)
think about that – Bill designed this in his teens, by hand – and it’s still a
classic 50 years later… little wonder he went on to become one of the best
known designers around!
describes the Cube as being made up of two main structures – an inner cage
consisting of a standard 24-piece burr (picture 8 inter-connected 6-piece burrs
at the corners of an imaginary cube; and an outer shell consisting of another
41 pieces. The two structures are locked together using a key-piece … one that
takes 11 moves to remove (so not a key-piece in that sense!).
Eric Fuller announced back in January that he’d been given permission to make a
run of Cutler Cubes I immediately signalled my interest – and followed the pics
as the piles and piles of pieces grew in Eric’s workshop – sadly including a
large pile of mis-cut pieces that got trashed because he’d used the wrong wood. In spite
of the mishap along the way, Eric duly announced that he was done and was proud
of the results – so I knew it would be awesome – Eric sets himself very high
wasn’t disappointed when it arrived – it looks stunning! The original Cubes
were made in walnut, oak and mahogany and Eric’s traded the latter two for ash
and sapele – keeping the overall colour scheme and looks true to the original. Neat!
The fit is definitely up to Eric’s usual standards … this is going to be
soon as you start playing with it, you realise this isn’t going to be a walk in
the park – you can find a few things to move … and that movement opens up yet
more movement, but then you stop dead in your tracks. Bill’s designed a bunch
of dead-ends and red herrings into this brute and I’ve been caught hook, line
try a slightly more rigorous approach but still find myself wandering into the
same blind alleys. Clearly this is going to need a serious approach, so I try
putting on my puzzling hat and this time notice something “interesting” that I
haven’t spotted before – it’s beautifully hidden – and then all of a sudden you
know you ain’t in Kansas no more – something very unexpected happens – and that
really sets the tone for the rest of the solve – you know you’re on the right
track now – that’s fantastic!
that key-piece is removed, they start coming apart thick and fast until you
find yourself left with that inner cage – the 24-piece burr at the centre of
the Cube – even then it isn’t trivial.
with a pile of 60-odd pieces I do what every sensible puzzler would do, and
drop Eric an email asking for the solution – it duly arrives along with a PDF
of Bill Cutler’s original notes from 1980 – including drawings of the pieces
and their positions, and quite helpfully, some additional construction notes
from Eric on how he chooses to assemble them – after all he had to assemble a
run of 38 of these brutes so he had to come up with a fairly repeatable
with the benefit of all these pictures, notes and instructions, I still make heavy
weather of it – having the partial assembly come tumbling down a few times
before I managed to get enough interlocking-ness into the structure to keep
things together and then finally manage to get it all back together again…
serious sense of achievement ensues.
in the 1960’s Bill Cutler set out to design a burr that was a challenge to take
apart. Fifty years on I’d say he was pretty successful at doing that on his
Cube. Eric has produced a fantastic version, true to the original with
tremendous tolerances, brilliant fit and a lovely finish… an excellent puzzle to
have in the collection.