Sunday 28 June 2020

Where's My Hammer?

Where's My Hammer? by Dee Dixon
No! I have not taken leave of my senses and decided to use forbidden tools on a wooden puzzle! Today we have a surprise guest blog post from a new friend who I have met at a couple of the recent Midlands Puzzle Parties - Michael Quigley seems to have gotten sucked into the hobby hook, line and sinker and not only has he spent a fortune on lots of new and expensive toys, he's joined us at puzzle meetups, but he has also managed to get himself cajoled into writing something for my silly little piece of Internet! I am very grateful to him for writing up on a puzzle that I don't own and technically cannot justify buying because (horror) it's a box and we all know that I don't collect boxes!

My Covid-19 infection has begun to settle, thank goodness. Last Tuesday, I finally felt like this damn thing was not going to kill me! My progress is slow - mainly now my symptoms are just being very quickly fatigued and with minimal effort. I'm back to work tomorrow which is going to be rather interesting (especially as my first day is doing emergency surgery) - here's hoping that it's not as bad as I'm expecting. Thank you everyone for your support and thank you to Michael for helping me with a blog post. Over to you, mate...

Like Pavlovian dogs, there are certain trigger words that have many a puzzler salivating on command: puzzle box (Ed - nope, not my thing!), sequential discovery and exotic woods to name just a few (Ed - drooool!). So when Dee Dixon released Where’s My Hammer? – a sequential discovery puzzle box, handcrafted from exotic woods, the frothing mouths of the marauding metagrobologists caused a spike in humidity that was lucky not to ruin the very boxes they coveted.

Beautiful wood!
Professionally known as DedWoodCrafts, Dee Dixon has been producing decorative boxes and puzzle boxes for many years in his spare time.  Often tested on friends and family it was the production of a prototype box that led the tester, who was unable to open the box, to exclaim “where’s my hammer?” and the box’s name was born (Ed - was he an orthopaedic surgeon?).
Dee has started to mass-produce a few designs and selling via Cubic Dissection, Where’s My Hammer? was the first of these to be released on there.  The release didn’t last long however with all copies selling out rapidly and leading to Dee’s Blinded II box set for their Cubic Dissection release at the end of June. (Ed - after a little "mishap, this is due to go on sale on Monday 29th June).

The box itself is a hefty piece of wood, which has a weight and sturdiness to it that makes you feel like it is up for a fight. That is not to say it is an ugly box, far from it, it is a lovely crafted box adorned with a plethora of fancy wooden panels, many of which I can’t identify.  It is a tactile puzzle, which is lucky owing to the amount of time I had to handle it. On to the solving experience…

Now I don’t have lots of experience solving sequential discovery puzzle boxes but I thought long and hard and realised that there must be a thing or two to do before the lid comes off.  Instantly disregarding this I try and open the lid to feel that it has some give but nothing much else.  There are a few rattles from within and I start tilting the box from side-to-side trying to uncover its secrets.
At this point my other (much better I’m told) half looks at me.  Usually this means “your toy is making too much noise, go and play in the other room” but this time she asked if she could “have a go” (Ed - gasp! A wife that puzzles? Maybe some wife-swapping is in order? Whack! Ouch!). Here I was stuck in a conundrum, whilst I want to show willing and involve my NPSO (non-puzzling significant other) in my hobby I don’t think she really understands the unwritten rule (someone should really write a long list of rules down somewhere – say on a Facebook page) of the puzzling communities “no spoilers”.  Meaning that the second she found anything I was going to be told.  Luckily after 5 minutes of her playing she was no further along the solve process than when I had handed her the box. Relief!

Any tools here?
My first few minutes were a little more fruitful and without too much trouble I was able to gather together a collection of tools and pieces (at this point I wasn’t sure which was which) before grinding to a halt. A long halt. I tried everything I could think of using everything I had found. I even tried putting the box all back together and going through the solve process thus far in the hope that I would have enough momentum to propel me to the next stage of the solve… but to no avail.  I once read that thinking© helps, so put the box away for the night and tried this approach the following night and the night after that until finally I made my breakthrough.  At this point I should mention that one of the things I was trying was correct, I just wasn’t trying that thing correctly! The final steps came quickly to leave me joyful, relieved and amazed at this wonderful box. I’d say there was only one step towards the end that I wasn’t a great fan of but everything else about the solve was a joy.

In total, and depending on how you count these things, there are probably between 7 and 10 steps for the total solve. There is nothing hugely revolutionary in the construction of the puzzle or mechanics used but the build quality, design and aha moments of this puzzle mean it is a great one to try.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing this box at the next puzzle party I go to and if my patience wears much thinner I’ll be sharing via the good old Royal Mail before then.  A super box from a new designer that is definitely worth getting hold of.

Thank you Dee for the production of this box.

Thank you Michael,  for sharing this with the "group" - I am very grateful for the effort you put in and a new voice on the blog! Hopefully we will hear from you again before long!

I am back to puzzling and have even managed to solve a few things whilst I have been off work - I am looking forward to regaling you all with tales of acquisition and utter stupidity over the next few weeks and maybe even a puzzle success or two!

Do take care of yourselves in these trying times! I have noticed that the virus has been very much on the upsurge again in parts of Europe and is close to being out of control in much of the USA - be careful, keep socially distant - there is absolutely no need to congregate just now. Masks (and other face coverings) may help protect others from you and certainly don't do you any harm. Your "freedom" should not be significantly impinged by wearing a face covering - think of others!

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