May 2009


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting



Last Meeting

David Yager visited BAWA this evening from San Gregorio. David will be having a large wood slab and tool sale on Saturday April 25. Look for the sign east of Highway 1 on Highway 84. His phone number is 650-747-0757.

Ed Aguilar joined us again. He is a friend of Neal Didriksen.

Silent Auction -- Jamie Buxton has contributed a Delta scroll saw. New it cost $175.


Mark Rand -- A man has contacted the club because he needs to find someone to finish a walking stick for himself. He will pay. If anyone is interested, contact Mark. Also Mark continues to berate members who do not wear a nametag. He has clasps and plywood blanks so you can make your own.

Stan Booker -- the big raffle prize, purple heart and paduak, will go to a lucky winner tonight. And for the second time in just three months, Fred Reicher won the raffle. Now Fred has to get back to his woodworking. Stan has a box of ¾" dowels that are free for the taking. Per Madsen has donated two pieces of red oak veneer for the door prizes. Each measures 12" wide by 8' long.

Per Madsen -- Per read to us from an abstract of an article written by a doctor extolling the virtues of woodworking to the aging brain. It helps with problem solving, organization, analysis and spatial planning.

Per is closing his shop and he has some benches, carts and plywood for sale.

At the May 21 BAWA meeting our own Claude Godcharles will host a presentation on hand cut dovetails. John McCormick will give the main presentation.

On June 18, BAWA will journey to Rockler in Pleasant Hill. They will feature their dovetail fixture and a 10% discount on all merchandise will be offered to BAWA members who attend the meeting.

On July 16, Kim Fortune will be our featured speaker. He has a business selling slabs of interesting wood, including walnut.

On Aug 20, John Blackmore will host the meeting featuring a hands-on workshop using various hand planes. John brought in a matched pair of Stanley side rabbet planes and a Stanley router plane just to show what we might expect. Nick Korens has also agreed to demonstrate and let members use some of his planes at this meeting. John is asking for additional volunteers. If you have a favorite plane you would like to see used at the meeting, please contact John at 650-400-9429.

Jay Perrine described the Rebuilding Together Peninsula project that will be taking place on April 25. The team will be working at two sites, CalCare and in the nearby trailer park.

Main Presentation:

George Boswell -- Three Dimensional Wooden Puzzles

George began by introducing the other wooden puzzle masters in BAWA: Per Madsen, Jamie Buxton and Mark Jones.

There are several types of three-dimensional wooden puzzles: burrs, boxes and solids. The burr type of puzzle is the most common and the simplest is the 2+2+2 and it closely resembles the burr on a plant, ergo its name. A gentleman named Bill Cutler wrote a software program for analyzing and designing burr puzzles. IBM has a web site dedicated to burr puzzles.

The trend today in burr design is to have more than six pieces; that is to move beyond the common 2+2+2. The competition among puzzle makers has become intense. Who can minimize the number of moves required to disassemble, and then reassemble the puzzle? The first piece, or key is the critical component.

Some of the new burr configurations include boxed burrs, O-ring burrs of which the Gordian Knot is an example. It has been disassembled in 28 moves.

George demonstrated a simple 1+1+1 o-ring puzzle that he thinks could be easily made at the BAWA Toy Workshops. We could all disassemble it, but no one got it back together even after a demonstration by George.

The best woods to use when making puzzles are those that have the lowest indices of expansion: teak, rosewood, and paduak. When George makes burr puzzles he uses some shop made fixtures and an elaborate cut list to reduce the error rate. Obviously precision crafted parts are essential.

Box puzzles are what the name implies a container with content. One takes the content out of the container then puts it back in. The shape is uniform, say a brick, but come in different dimensions. Or the shapes can vary, all fitting together to fill the container.

Solid Puzzles can be box like and an example is the snake puzzle in which the pieces are connected by an elastic cord. When unraveled, the box becomes a segmented snake.

George gave us a handout of puzzle resources. It follows:

Web Sellers of puzzles (Colorado) (Australia) (Danish in Indonesia)

Web Information on puzzles

Books on Puzzles

Slocum and Botermans, New Book of Puzzles (W. H. Freeman, 1992

Slocum and Botermans, The Book of Ingenious & Diabolical Puzzles (Random House, 1994)

Wan Delft and Botermans, Creative Puzzles of the World (Key Curriculum Press, 1995)

And George offered us some advice. If you want to make a puzzle, don't try a burr puzzle, at least until you have developed some technique. Your first project should be a box puzzle. You can use your familiar table saw skills and jig building abilities. You can use almost any wood and it can be made as a group project.

George and Mark Jones passed around several puzzles for us to examine and try to figure out. The simple puzzles came first, and then became progressively more complex and impossible to understand. But that was the purpose after all. We all left the meeting thoroughly puzzled.

John Blackmore