Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Bernoulli Chest # 1

One of my puzzling mates recently commissioned a rather special puzzle chest - the pictures he sent me looked spectacular, so when he offered to write up a guest blog post on it I dodn't take long to mull it over. Here it is - over to Matt:

A very special thanks to Allard for letting me ramble on in his place in the interwebs.

I’ve been seeking an everyday functional trick chest that has a few drawers that open rather simply and a few more drawers that have a vastly more complex opening sequence.

As I was pondering what type of wood I wanted the chest to made out of and look like I was reminded of the very complex and beautiful yosegi (bits of different wood formed in such a way to make geometric patterns) made by Mr. Yoshiyuki Ninomiya of the Karakuri Group. 

After searching the internet for yosegi for a while I happened across a beautiful wood jewelry chest with a strip of yosegi going around its front edge. This beautiful jewelry chest was made by Mr. Nicholas Phillips of Affine Creations and is currently the cover photo of Affine Creations Facebook account

I contacted Nicholas to see if he could make me a special trick chest with different yosegi on the drawer fronts. He was very enthusiastic about the potential project and mentioned he is fond of making Japanese style puzzle boxes and the challenge of making tricks for the chest is something he would love to take on. Based on his past work and enthusiasm I decided to take a chance and commission him to make me a trick chest.

After a few back and forths with Nicholas on drawer layout we decided on a 14 drawer layout that would bring the chest to a size of 17-1/2" tall x 14-1/4" wide and 11" deep.

Next we discussed that I would like multiple differing yosegi patterns covering the front of the drawers on the trick chest so when the chest is not being played with it will look beautiful and mesmerizing. Nicholas quickly began sketching out yosegi patterns and started building. The woods chosen for the chest were figured cherry, kiaat, and Caribbean Rosewood.

The tricks to The Bernoulli Chest # 1 vary from somewhat simple for easy access to a drawer when I’m half awake in the morning to vastly more complex for puzzling. For example, the second row has four drawers that work together in a sequential discovery puzzle in order to unlock the drawer, but to get to the key item in the first drawer that will help one open another drawer in that row one must learn how the drawer opens by itself. 

One drawer is a separate entity unto itself inasmuch as it's a self-contained Japanese-style puzzle box with sliding keys and panels. 

The last 2 rows contain a total of six drawers that work together in a kind of binary logic puzzle that releases one drawer when its corresponding drawer(s) is closed or open. 
One of the cool pictures of Nicholas building the chest on his tumblr shows how the aforementioned binary logic mechanism works, but even with a picture of the “mechanical computer” it's still quite puzzling to figure out its operation.

I’m very excited to have this trick chest in my collection and use everyday as a functional piece of art. I hope Nicholas Phillips of Affine Creations continues to make trick chests and puzzles into the future. 

 [All photos copyright of Nicholas Phillips / Affine Creations.]


  1. Spectacular! You're very fortunate.

  2. Absolutely stunning! Seriously...I was watching Nicholas post pictures of his progress and was repeatedly blown away by his craftsmanship skills. I too hope that he carries on making more puzzling creations.