Thursday 4 July 2019

Burl Tile Puzzle aka Stickman Puzzlebox #30

This is a brute of a puzzle – another one that’s been on my shelf-of-shame for (a lot!) longer than a year now… and I finally sucked up enough courage to get it open a couple of weekends ago. 

Now in the past I’ve always maintained that there is no common theme or style among Robert’s designs, and it might seem like I’m about to contradict myself here, but give it a moment before you jump to any conclusions… the Stickman has NOT compromised any of his creative integrity by revisiting an old idea!

Right, so Puzzlebox #15 was a sliding tile pile that unlocked a box when you solved the 3D picture on the lid of the box… and Puzzlebox #4 had a funky mechanism for moving tiles between different faces of a puzzle where you needed to properly align a number of tiles to open a number of compartments… with me so far?

Burl Tile Puzzlebox asks you to solve two sliding tile puzzles on opposite sides simultaneously using a single  empty space – each side is a 3*5 matrix and the “pictures” on each side are made up of a couple of bits of sliced up burl – so you’re effectively playing an edge-matching puzzle where you aren’t sure which bits go together and where the edges are… sounds tricky?

Well remember there’s only a single hole across both sides – well one end of the box swivels, transporting burl tiles (and potentially your space) from one face to the opposite face… and if that’s not quite enough, there’s also a funky little feature that allows pieces to be spun around – so when you start trying to piece together the two lovely bits of burl, you don’t even know the pieces are properly oriented, let alone whether they belong to the same “picture” or not. 

Getting the picture of why it’s been on the shelf of shame for so long yet? 

As you begin to solve the two pictures you’ll find a number of locking key loosening up and eventually they can be removed… and you can sort of cheat by working on those keys individually… and I’m not saying I did, but I discovered that doing that actually doesn’t help at all when it comes to opening the hidden compartment – everything needs to be solved, and aligned rather jolly neatly before you open this guy up…

When it was finally opened, it needed more encouragement than usual having been allowed to “rest” for several years without being played with – it won’t have to do that again…

Oh, and if that wasn’t hard enough, Rob provides an alternative assembly that makes things even harder – to the extent that in some positions a number of tiles will actually be locked in place and cannot be moved, until you work out which other supposedly independent tiles need to get shifted around…

A proper hard puzzle that uses some really clever engineering and superb woodworking skills to bring to life a multi-layer puzzle that continues to push the boundaries of what you can expect from a modestly sized Puzzlebox.


  1. great review and so Jealous i am(in the good sense)!Bravo Robert Bravo allard!

    1. Aw, cheers for that Mike - and indeed - Bravo Robert!!