Monday, November 17, 2008

Magnet Puzzle Part 2

A few people have shown some interest in exactly how I made my magnet puzzle, so I thought I'd give a little more detailed account of the steps I took.  Feel free to skim over this as I will most likely saying entirely too many irrelevant things.

First up, SUPPLIES!  You will most likely need the following items:

1.  3/4" wood blocks.  You'll need at least 16 of these, but more if you plan on making mistakes.  You can find some at your local hobby shop, or you could purchase some from here online.  I've never purchased from this place, so I don't know what kind of service you're going to get.  Feel free to find your own wood block provider. 
2. 1/8" Diameter by 3/8" long neodymium magnets.  These are extremely strong magnets for their size.  You'll need a minimum of 96 to complete the puzzle, but I encourage you buy a few extra just in case.  I'd recommend this place.  They are well priced and I received them in about 4 days.  Again, if you have a favorite neodymium magnet warehouse of your own, feel free to use them.
3.  1/8" Drill bit.  (guess what's coming next...)
4.  Drill.  Preferably, you should do this with a drill press.  I didn't, but I really wish I had.  It's much easier on your hands and sanity.  
5.  Glue.  I used crazy glue when necessary, but probably anything will work.  It won't take much.
6.  Patience.
7.  Humility.
8.  More patience.
9.  Festive decorations for when you finally complete the project.

Some of those items are negotiable, but I'm pretty sure you're going to at least want some streamers to put up for the celebration.

Once you've got all the parts ready, it's a pretty simple process.   There's really just a few steps:

Step 1.  Drill some holes in some blocks.
Step 2.  Puts some magnets in those blocks.
Step 3.  Make someone put together the puzzle blocks.

That's pretty much it.  Below are a few helpful pictures.  I've included a map of how I laid out the magnets.  There is also a template for each of the two types of blocks you'll need to make.  There is also a picture of my blocks with the little drill guide templates taped onto them.  You'll want to drill those holes just a bit over 3/8" deep.  Putting the magnets in is pretty straight forward once you figure out how to keep the poles straight.  Most of mine fit pretty snug and stayed in on their own after I lovingly tapped them in with a hammer.  Some were a little loose, so glue was necessary.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  There are two types of blocks that make this whole thing work.  In order to get the magnets to line up properly, you have to make 8 of each kind of block and then alternate between the two as you put the magnets in.  I'd recommend laying it all out and taking your time.  Nobody wants a puzzle they can't actually complete.  If you look at the pictures of the actual puzzle in the post below, it should make sense.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  When I first thought of this, I didn't actually intend on making the magnets go diagonally.  I pictured them being side by side so that any piece could go anywhere.  But then I go the magnets, and I realized they were too big to work that way, so I found a way to fit the magnets I had in the blocks that I had rather than just buying shorter magnets.  I'm actually happier with it this way because I feel like it's hard enough as is without making the pieces even more similar.  However, if someone wants to make their life infinitely more frustrating, by all means, modify the plans to your heart's discontent.  

FINALLY:  If anyone out there does try and make this on their own, please leave a comment and a link showing us how it turned out, or if you have any design improvements, please share those as well.  Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the puzzle! 

REALLY THE FINAL THING:  If you're not sure you want to take on the whole thing, I highly recommend making just the four center pieces using all of the 32 magnets that would require.  I've found that just getting those four pieces together is a challenge in and of itself.

Also, if I didn't address any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments.  I'll answer any questions that I can and make up answers to the ones I can't.  Here's hoping I know the answer to your question!


Lia said...

Such a great project. I hope you're enjoying your puzzle. I've always admired people who had ideas and actually acted on them.

Anonymous said...

Wow, quite a project.

So many magnets, so many wood blocks and all those holes to drill.

KDS said...

i totally had that timberlake D in a box song stuck in my head, and i didn't realize why until i saw your labels. very clever.

Madelyn said...

I have a feeling everyone will be getting one of these for Christmas.