Tuesday 17 June 2014

Swing Lock

Splinter Spierenburgh has been designing mazes for years. He’s published an eBook of mazes and designed a bunch of 3D-printed mazes and even entered one of them (MazeRoll) in last year’s Nob Yoshigahara Design Competition.

Realising that they lived in the same town, he met up with Louis Coolen and the two of them started discussing some ideas that Splinter had for a 3D-printed puzzle lock … and a short while later the bright orange Burgh Lock appeared – I snapped up a copy and really enjoyed it. 

There are a couple of very interesting moves that you don’t expect, along with a fair number of perfect red herrings. It’s a really fun lock, but I found that most puzzlers are a bit weary of damaging it, in spite of telling them not to worry about it and that the material is quite strong enough for the movements required. 

Fast forward almost a year and Splinter told us he was working on a new puzzle lock and showed us some pics of his first prototype (in wood!). Louis had been allowed to have a bash at it and had given Splinter some feedback. A couple of refinements later, a second round of prototypes was produced and this one was given a slightly wider test and resulted in some promising sounding noises, so a production run was commissioned. 

I got an email from Splinter offering me a copy of the Swing Lock and given that I’d heard some good things about it, I didn’t hesitate and ordered a copy which duly arrived in Barnt Green the next week. 

It’s a handsome brute of a puzzle – beautifully machined in aluminium (there is a cheaper acrylic version available). It’s not light – this lock will clearly not be forced open – you either open it the right way, or it stays closed! It comes with a key and there appear to be two keyholes (which is a bit unusual!). 

I started fiddling around and pretty soon discovered that there was a clear acrylic plate inside the lock that was clearly (now!!) blocking one of the keyholes – not knowing if this was important of not I continued exploring. 

Turning the key in the keyhole doesn’t appear to do an awful lot and no matter what you do initially, the haps stays rigidly locked in place… 

This is a nice puzzle lock – you won’t be afraid to hand it around to relative puzzle muggles, and similarly, they won’t be afraid to have a real go at solving it…

The mechanism was totally new to me and an absolute delight in simplicity – although working out how it works is a brilliant challenge … Splinter has made the front panel of the lock removable (with the help of a Philips screwdriver) so that you can see the mechanism in action – a brilliant touch!

Suffice it to say that my idea of what was going on in there was thoroughly wrong and hopelessly over-complicated…

An excellent addition to my little collection of trick locks – it joins the Popplocks in pride of place … I hope that Splinter continues to try out new puzzle designs like this on us… the world needs more great puzzles! 

Mooi so, Splinter!

[Read Gabriel's thoughts on the Swing Lock over here...] 


  1. Hi Allard,
    You sure it's Aluminium?
    I thought he had them made in stainless steel and in the pictures it does look like stainless steel.
    Let's keep puzzling, Michel

    1. You could be right Michel, I'm rubbish at identifying woods! :-)

    2. It's stainless steel. Allard just didn't discover this yet.
      He thought of heavy Alu :-)

    3. -[BLUSH]- Sorry Splinter! Thanks for correcting me...

  2. With no intention to rub it in, but just imagine how large the lock would be if it were in Alu and with the weight you feel now. It would almost have a 3 times greater volume(!) (density of Alu is almost a factor 3 smaller). That would be a really impressive size for a puzzle lock!

    1. I'd have guessed 41% longer on each axis ... But I'm not good with numbers! ;-)

    2. You're fully right. 1,41^3 creates a 2.8 more volume (which is the difference in density between stainless steel and aluminum). 41% on each axis is a huge growth (I think).