Burr puzzles do not seem difficult to make and they are very nice example of assemblies where it is not difficult to manufacture parts, but accuracy is very important.
The engineering practice defines precise manufacturing by tolerance. Figuratively speaking, if we have a nominal dimension of 25mm, tolerance defines how much we can deviate from 25 mm to ensure that we meet those criteria which the structure imposes. The woodworkers’s practice uses only nominal dimensions without tolerance and with practice every woodworker gets an idea of tolerance. Making puzzles is a perfect way for every woodworker to acquire this feeling. For children interested in woodworking, making puzzles is also very suitable. In this way, they learn woodworking techniques, acquire a sense of precision and also at the end there remains an interesting item that will continue to captivate their attention.
Making puzzles varies depending on whether you are making only one puzzle or mass production of puzzles. If making one puzzle it is quite sufficient have basic hand tools. For mass production of puzzles you need machines and jigs that allow quick and accurate manufacturing. If you already have a well equipped woodworking workshop, no additional investment of money is needed for the purchase of machinery and tooling. All that is required is a quality jig and skills in making wooden parts of small dimensions and high precision.
To make a high-quality puzzle it is needed:
- that all the rods are precisely cut on required length
- that all the rods have an accurate square cross-section
- that all the notches are accurately marked and cut.
On the internet you can find a large number of books, articles and video tutorials helpful for easily learning how to make high-quality wooden burr puzzles.
The materials used to make a puzzle
Wood, plastic and metal are the most common materials used to make a burr puzzle. The best material for making burr puzzles is wood. There are many types of wood of different colors and textures, and their combination can create a very beautiful and unique puzzle. Parts of the puzzle are small, and hence for their production a variety of scrap wood from your workshop can be used. The wooden burr puzzles are usually precision-made for tight fit and require special wood so that the pieces do not change shape too much in changing temperature and humidity.
Nowadays burr puzzles are usually made of plastic since the production of plastic parts is very suitable for mass production. Also, manufacturers of puzzles know that people usually buy puzzles for gifts, for after a while people lose interest and that is why they spend little money in the quality of production.
Burr puzzles can be made from metals or metal alloys. The problem with making burr puzzles of metal is making complicated cuts that could be done in wood with chisels. Simple cuts of metallic parts can be easily done using a milling machine .
The puzzles are not intended for children under 3 years old because parts of the puzzle are small in size and there is a risk that the child will swallow pieces or to hurt itself in any other way.