Tuesday 26 April 2022

Construction blitz…

I’ve always enjoyed assembling kits – before puzzles it was model aircraft and hairy-choppers – those were truly the gift that kept on giving with the need to rebuild and repair when ambition exceeded altitude and airspeed… but having left that hobby behind for a far cheaper one (let’s see if I get away with leaving that one out there) in the form of puzzles, I don’t get my assembly-fix quite as often… I’ve blogged about my Karakuri kits before but recently I’ve ordered a few of the NKD kits and they’ve supplied several weeks of my assembly-fix.

A while back I assembled the Silver City Luxe kit and found the process of gluing the little bits of veneer on at the end really tedious – in the end my copy of the puzzle looked presentable – but definitely not up to close scrutiny – it was obvious that it had been built by someone with more enthusiasm than skillz…

In spite of that I ordered a copy of the Luxe version of the Scriptum Cube and Mecanigma as well… and over the past couple of months I’ve been working my way through assembling those.

The carcasses go together really well – the laser-cutting is all spot-on and very few of the pieces were so tight they needed a bit of fettling. The innards of the Scriptum Cube go together quite quickly and as long as you follow the instructions carefully you should get everything right first time… I ended up with just one bit that (still) doesn’t quite work properly – but as it’s an internal bit that’s only really there to hide some of the guts, I’m not losing much sleep over it… and some point I’ll work out why it doesn’t fit where it should…

Once the carcass is built, you have the joys of the veneer to apply… but this time the good folks at NKD have switched from PVA wood glue to gel superglue – which gives you about 10 seconds to get things properly positioned and apply some pressure to secure it in place and literally 20 seconds later you’re onto the next piece safe in the knowledge that piece isn’t going anywhere fast…. Sure you need to be careful about where the gel goes, but if you’re careful you don’t HAVE to glue yourself to your project – that bit’s optional.

The veneer on this one ended up taking me a bit longer than the rest of the assembly, and once again my copy’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it’s perfectly functional and looks good enough at a distance!

Oh yeah, and it’s a cute puzzle too – obviously if you’ve built the thing, you know exactly how it all works, but I suspect it’ll amuse a few puzzlers when they eventually start dribbling back to Barnt Green at some point in the future.

Mecanigma is an interesting combination of some very cleverly-engineered laser-cut ply and lots of 3D printed pieces. You start out by applying several thin coats of wood stain to the ply sheets before starting with creating a huge number of sub-assemblies and the main carcass. Once you’ve used up most of the wooden bits you being to combine the 3D-printed bits and the sub-assemblies into some wonderfully interesting mechanisms…

You work your way around each of the faces in turn, pausing to make sure that all of the mechanical bits are working properly and interact reliably with those on the previous sides before moving onto the next side… (Word to the wise: take your time on this bit and make sure the mechanisms are all silky smooth – it’s a LOT easier to do that now than to try and do it when there’s a lot more hanging going off the carcass.)

Again, once you get to the end of the assembly process you’re pretty familiar with the mechanical bits of the puzzle, and you’ll have had to check the puzzle-y bits as well so it’s not going to take you long to solve it – given that all of the mechanics are out there in full view it does make for an impressive mechanical contraption – with a bit of puzzling thrown in for good measure.

If you want a pretty puzzle, give the good folks at NKD your money and get them to build it for you – they’re going to do a better job than most puzzlers I know… but if you need the occasional assembly-fix like I do, then they provide plenty of building pleasure with a good dose of sense of achievement - AND you end up with a puzzle box for your mates to play with.


Yes, I challenged myself to get the word carcass in there 5 times… I’m a bad person.

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