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Puzzling Myself Silly

Sculpture Puzzles

These pictures of my collection of sequentially interlocking articulated sculpture puzzles were made by other woodworkers but they should keep you amused until I get my own articulated puzzles cut out:
My collection of Articulated Interlocking 

Sculpture Puzzles More of my collection of Articulated Interlocking 

Sculpture Puzzles

This articulated style of sequentially interlocking puzzle is not widely known, but I believe they were originally designed by Peter Chapman of Bent Mountain, VA. in the early 90's who has created some 40 different styles, mostly animals, with hidden pieces inside, according to a WOOD Magazine article I found.

Sadly, his original website, "Sculpture Puzzles by Peter Chapman" no longer exists, but I did manage to find these two sites: Hanson Galleries and Whippoorwill Crafts with just a smattering of his puzzles on them. Not nearly as much as I remember the original site of his own having.

He is apparently using the name "Class Menagerie" for his puzzle business now, and here is how he describes his own puzzles:

The best zoo in America makes house calls right to your door. Each of these three dimensional interlocking puzzles is cut from a single piece of wood. The animal articulates and moves like the creature it represents. Sequentially locking pieces create a sculpture that stays together when locked with the eye piece. Best of all - every one has a surprise inside!

As luck would have it, in July 2000, I found a signed Chapman puzzle of a Dachshund on eBay and nabbed it! Shown above in the collection picture, it has a strip of leather for the tail. Here are the pictures showing his signature and the little white bone inside:

Dachshund Sculpture Puzzle signed by 

Peter Chapman Dachshund Sculpture Puzzle by Peter 

Chapman showing little white bone inside

Other sites where he may be found:
Peter Chapman is mentioned, but there is no link to any of his puzzles.
Peter Chapman is mentioned, but again, no link to any of his puzzles.
Just 1 of Peter's fish is pictured here.
And another
Finally! Peter Chapman has a website of his own. Check it out!

While on my periodic search for Mr. Chapman again, I stumbled on a WHOLE ZOO full of similar sculpture puzzles by a Mr. D. Evans. The cut patterns of the individual pieces are very DIFFERENT from each other while Chapman tends to use the same style of cut both within the same animal, and throughout his range of puzzles. But then the Evans puzzles don't have hidden pieces inside, either.

I don't know the artist for this unsigned fish puzzle, nor what the dark wood is that it is made from, but it is very well done, and looks a bit like the ones on Mr. Evans' site:

Sculpture Puzzle Fish Sculpture Puzzle Fish in pieces
Sadly, this link is now someone else's site. If anyone knows the whereabouts of D.Evans, please let me know.

This articulated Pine Fish was my first sculpture puzzle purchase off eBay and was really poorly done. I received two of them, and have sanded and shaped one of them considerably and put a BriWax finish on it to make it respectable, but I can do nothing to improve on the original jagged cutting that was done:

Sculpture Puzzle Pine Fish as purchased Sculpture Puzzle Pine Fish I had to finish

This sequentially interlocking puzzle snake is well done and made from Birdseye Maple with a Black Walnut tongue. Again, it was an eBay find, auctioned by the artist, Jim Forns. He sent it to me in pieces and it took me a half hour to get it back together.

Sculpture Puzzle Snake Sculpture Puzzle Snake Head Close-up

Yet another articulated snake from eBay, made by Jeff Myra of North Oxford, MA, this time made of alternating stained and natural Ash.

Ash Sculpture Puzzle Snake Ash Sculpture Puzzle Snake Head Close-up

This Cocobolo Whale keychain was given to me by a friend who found it in a Florida gift shop while on vacation. I have since discovered the pattern for it, and have placed the link below.

Sculpture Puzzle Whale Keychain

Ken Ketterling of Souix Falls, SD, sells these articulated fish made by an unnamed 71 year old woman he knows. She makes them in many sizes and woods, and with great attention to detail, use pyrography to burn those details in. They feel just lovely to hold!
Sculpture Puzzle Fish with woodburned 


MY Sculpture Puzzles

I sure hope my own 3D articulated sequentially interlocking sculpture puzzles turn out as good as the ones above!

21-piece Star Puzzle

Currently in progress on my workbench is an articulated 5-pointed Star 3-D jigsaw puzzle made from very straight-grained Zebrawood and Oak that has to be cut very precisely so that it will be more confusing to put back together! (I wanted the grain to give NO hints whatsoever...I may ultimately shoot myself for doing that...)

But there is a missing bit of information in the magazine instructions, and it gave me fits! A jig needs to be made that is the bi-sect of the angle at the point of the star arm, so that it holds the point of the star arm parallel to the saw table when the alternate cuts are being made. Now that I have gotten that figured out, and have the jigs made and attached to each arm, the rest SHOULD be easy - relatively speaking. I just have to get up the nerve to start cutting on that lovely Zebrawood...

Sculpture Puzzle Patterns and Plans

There are a few wooden articulated sculpture puzzle patterns available on the market, and also some in my head that I want to cut out and show you, too. But until then, you'll just have to be satisfied with these:

  • The articulated Star Puzzle pattern can be found in Popular Woodworking, Nov 98, page 49 and is called the "3-D Star Puzzle".

  • The only authorized Peter Chapman sculpture puzzle pattern that I have found for sale is a .PDF file from WOOD Magazine of the "Puzzling Bass". It has a baby fish inside, and comes with a bonus pattern of the little whale keychain.

  • The "Puzzling Bass" is also available free in Weekend Woodworking Projects, July 1994, v.7, #4, Issue 40, page 10, but the keychain whale is not part of the article.

  • The "Whale Keychain" is also available in WOOD Magazine, January 1997, Issue #94, page 78, along with a nice article about Peter himself.

  • A pattern for the interlocking sculpture Rattle Snake puzzle that you see around fairly often is available for purchase from Chuck Hall at Wood Chuck Publications . You can see one of the numerous variations of it above. Sadly, this is now a dead link. If anyone knows the whereabouts of WoodChuck Publications puzzle patterns, please let me know.

  • Other patterns for articulated sculpture animal puzzles and sea life puzzles such as a Shark, Lizard, another snake, and eventually a Cobra, are available for purchase from William Wardle at Len's Crafts . Sadly, this is now a dead link. If anyone knows the whereabouts of William Wardle's puzzle patterns, please let me know.
  • Still haven't seen enough of these interlocking articulated sculpture puzzles? Then see these sites for more eye candy (and if you run across any others, please let me know!):

    Zoo-Illogical Society of Puzzled Pets
    Mike Gallagher's Puzzles
    Really short, too short, video about cutting the snake.

    Hang in there...I'm sawing just as fast as I can!

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    Updated: December 8, 2011