This wooden puzzle is also commonly known as the knot burr puzzle or chinese cross. The origins of this puzzle are unknown, but we do know the earliest mention is in an encyclopaedia created in 1698. However historians agree that it was probably invented long before this date.
And for me, this is a perfect way to test some basic woodworking skills. If you want the 3 pieces to fit together nice and tight, your measuring and cutting needs to be on point. And it’s also a good project for anyone who wants to practice their chisel technique.
How I made the wooden puzzle
I used ash and sapele, because I wanted the contrast of having both light and dark wood together. First I marked my shapes on the wood, and then I cut them out with the bandsaw. As I had a brand new blade, I cut very close to the lines in order to minimise the sanding required afterwards. However some people prefer to cut about 1mm away from the lines, and then sand down to exactly the right size.
One of the pieces requires a hole to be cut in the middle. For this you could use a scroll saw, or a coping saw. However I chose to drill some holes, cut the rough shape out with a jigsaw, and then finish with a sharp chisel. There’s usually multiple ways of doing these things so it’s a case of using what you’ve got. Unless of course you feel like treating yourself, in which case go with something you haven’t got!
You can see some of my chisel action in the video. It’s fairly basic stuff, but it does need concentration to ensure you stay within the lines and make nice straight cuts.
I then sanded everything down, working from 80 grit to 240. And I rounded the edges slightly in order to give it a nicer feel in the hands. This is what the three pieces looked like after sanding and finishing with danish oil.
The final product
This is the solved puzzle with all three pieces joined together to make the famous knot shape.
You’ll notice some small gaps where the pieces fit together. This is my room for improvement. Next time I’ll be a bit more precise so that I get an even tighter fit.
How to solve the wooden puzzle
In case you’ve got one of these and you’re having trouble solving it, here I am giving a quick demo.
If you’d like to make one of these, or have one made for you, feel free to contact me. Or you can receive my newsletter to get the latest news, updates and projects straight to your inbox.
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