Friday 8 February 2013

Stewart Coffin’s Seven Woods by Lee Krasnow

I’ve drooled over the wonderful puzzles on Lee Krasnow’s sumptuous web-site for a very long time. I’ve seen Merkabas changing hands for silly money on auctions and sighed. I’ve trawled through Lee’s gallery pages and marvelled at his intricate designs and the obvious precision of his work. I’ve read comments about his work and the one thing that everyone always comments on is his utter precision. One day I had to get my grubby little paws on at least one Krasnow original...

A few months ago Lee was visiting the UK with his puzzle-crafting-buddy Eric Fuller (yip, that one!) and they met up with a bunch of local puzzlers in London – unfortunately I couldn’t make the meeting or the subsequent faire (the main reason for their visit – apart from the beer!), however my good mate Nigel could, and did, and bought me a little piece of Krasnow precision. 

Seven Woods is Stewart Coffin’s design number 42 – that’s got to be significant! (Got your towels ready?) It’s based on the standard diagonal burr, but it’s had its ends cut off rather severely so that it ends up looking more like a lightly carved up cube than a diagonal burr. Each face is made up of two triangles in a matching wood – which gives you six woods... and the seventh is hidden inside and only becomes visible when you begin to pull the pieces apart.

As with the diagonal burr, taking it apart is dead simple – pick any pair of pieces and simply pull them apart – and as you do the entire assembly expands in your hands until it’s held together by the very tips of the pieces alone ... a fraction further and you get four pieces on the table below and a piece in each hand. 

Putting it back together is a trifle trickier as you need to get everything lined up properly and introduce the pieces to one another rather precisely.

...and when I say precisely, boy do I mean it! There is absolutely zero wiggle on any of the pieces – when expanding and contracting the pieces you can literally feel the air resistance in both directions as air strains to get in and out of the puzzle – to get six pieces moving in formation like that requires phenomenal precision ... 

Now I know why everyone raves about Lee’s puzzles...

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