Pyramid Puzzle

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This article is from Issue 101 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Simple, yet deceptively tricky

This two-piece puzzle has a lot to offer: it’s easy to make, satisfying to solve, and in its assembled form, it᾿s handsome aesthetics look great displayed on any shelf. When assembled properly, the two pieces form a four-sided pyramid. Make one for yourself and others to send out to your favorite youngsters for some unplugged fun. While you can cut the parts from any species, dense, tight-grained hardwoods such as maple and cherry lend themselves well to such work. If you need a hand solving this puzzle, peek at the photo on page 59.

Rip #1. With the blade tilted to 30°, cut one edge of the blank to make its first angled side. With a right tilt saw, position the fence to the left of the blade to prevent trapping the workpiece under the blade, which can burn your work, or worse, cause kickback.

Ten cuts to two puzzles

Mill a piece of 8/4 stock to 1-3/4" thick × 3" wide × 20" long. The extra length provides enough material for safe handling while yielding two puzzles. At the table saw, make two rip cuts with the blade tilted at 30° to create an equilateral triangle that measures about 2" across each face—the exact dimensions are not critical. As long as the second rip intersects the first rip, you’ll end up with three identical sides. Keep the blade at 30° and slide the rip fence aside to make room for your miter gauge. Crosscut the triangular strip to create identical puzzle parts. In doing so, two of the long-grain faces become trapezoids, while the third becomes a square. Adjust the length of the pieces so that the square face is, in fact, a square. Sand the faces and ease the edges before applying a finish. I finished my puzzle with polyurethane.

Rip #2. Flip the workpiece end for end. Reposition the fence to cut an equilateral triangle—the keeper piece will be on the outside of the blade. Push the piece past the blade with a shoe-style pushstick for firm control and to keep your fingers a safe distance from the blade.
Four crosscuts. Each puzzle piece requires two crosscuts with the blade still tilted at 30°. Adjust the length of the pieces so that the length of the side at the bottom of the cuts matches its width. An auxiliary fence that extends past the blade makes it easier to hold onto these short pieces.


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