Sunday 5 September 2021

Beautiful Brass From Phil

Phil Wigfield is a new puzzle manufacturer based in the good old UK. He makes stuff the old fashioned way using lathes and measurement and creates things of beauty. He then sells them via his Etsy store. When Allard showed off the Bolted puzzle and gushed about it, I took note and thought that when my finances had recovered a bit from other puzzling expenses, I would make contact and buy something lovely in brass...except he had sold out by then. At that point I send him a message and he revealed what a great guy he is. He promised to make some more once he had managed to restock with raw materials and would let me know as soon as they were available again. It seems that with the pandemic and Brexit etc. stuff has gotten quite a bit more expensive but he honoured the original price seeing as I had asked to buy before he had reposted new stock at a new price which made it worthwhile his efforts. Top man!

It took him quite a few weeks to get raw materials in manufacture my puzzle and send out my new toy. I was very impressed with the packaging. It is beautifully presented in a nice wooden box with a metal catch. It screams "open me".

Even Mrs S was impressed by the presentation (even if she was not impressed by the arrival of yet more toys for me). Opening the box revealed a lovely pair of interlocking bolts on a padded interior.

Now, I have played with (even if I don't own) almost all of the bolts produced by Rocky Chiaro (whose website seems to be offline just now). One of the advantages (?) of being friends with Ali, Steve and Allard is that (prior to the bloody virus) I would get to drive a few hours to Birmingham every couple of months and could be tortured and made fun of by a whole bunch of fellow sufferers when I tried and failed to solve a whole bunch of puzzles that were not in my own collection. I am terrible at bolt puzzles! I am not much better at many other types but I don't seem to have the right brain processes for these - I just don't seem to be able to think about how they could possibly work and then also cannot interpret odd noises and feelings as you move them about to work out what might be inside.

I showed this off on FB when it arrived and wondered how many years it might take to solve it. Allard certainly loved it and was impressed with it which meant that I was going to struggle. What do we have? There is a nice chunky brass bolt with an appropriately big nut halfway down it. So far so easy to understand...except this large nut has another smaller bolt screwed right through it and the large bolt with a nut on one side and a couple more on the other. You have to do the obvious and try and simply unscrew everything don't you? The tow small end nuts whizz right off revealing how beautifully the fit has been made. At this point try unscrewing the small bolt from the rest of the puzzle...and of course it won't come out! There wouldn't be much puzzling if it did! It wiggles a little revealing that it should come undone at some point but it's not straightforward. Maybe the small bolt doesn't actually go through? Yes, I know it's silly but you kinda have to do the other obvious thing and try to remove the large nut from its' bolt with the smaller bolt attached and yes, I knew it wouldn't work but I did it anyway! I never claimed to be clever or even a good fact, this website has many instances of me claiming to be not terribly bright. Once the two obvious things had been tried with no success, I was quite stumped. It wiggles a tiny amount in each axis of expected motion but that is it.

Time to THINK©! Well, I thunk and nothing happened so I went to bed and nothing occured to me overnight. I was resigned to having this beautiful piece of craftsmanship sitting on my pile of shame next to me in the living room for months. At this point, I thought to myself: 
"Self, if you were going to make something like this then how would you do it?"

Well, I haven't gone completely crazy and there were no voices answering my question. There was just a high pitched Scottish voice in my head complaining about how many toys were littering my study - oh, that was Mrs S...I can ignore that voice. Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear.

I did manage to think of a possible way that I would make this work and tried to see whether Phil had done the same thing I would. Aaaaaannd, nope! That didn't work. Back to sleep on it for another night. The following evening, I had a very rare occurrence...a thought. Not a special radical thought (I am not capable of those) but a thought that was similar to my first one but with a little twist (pardon the pun). Oh! that's interesting and rather beautifully done! Then I did something else and Bingo!

Very impressive work
That is stunningly well made - Phil did say that he had to spend a whole lot of time with a micrometer when making these and I can see why. It is a lovely idea, beautifully implemented and very well hidden. I will have to show this off to my orthopaedic friends because they will really appreciate the precision of the manufacture and the clever idea behind it.

These are still available on Phil's Etsy store - go get one, you won't be disappointed. I suspect that I will need to make another purchase from him sometime. However I will need to let my finances recover from my recent purchase of Aaron's newest creations.

What's in the boxes?
Amazing stuff!

Please be careful out in the world guys, We are seeing very high numbers of Covid infections throughout the world and hospitals are still very full. The unvaccinated or partially vaccinated are still getting very sick and about 10% of our hospitalised Covid patients are in the ICU either on CPAP or ventilated. If you haven't yet...GO GET YOUR JAB! Wear a mask when you are amongst others in an indoors environment. I know many places have not mandated mask usage but it is a simple thing to do and certainly effective in decreasing the risk. Ignore the crap about them raising your CO2 - this is utter bollocks! As an anaesthetist dealing with breathing circuits and ventilators all the time CO2 removal is core to what I do and masks do NOT cause it's retention (even in COPD or asthma). If you feel crap breathing through a mask with your COPD then imagine how crap you will feel with Covid-19 on a ventilator!


  1. Hi Kevin,
    Please review Aaron's top left wooden puzzle.I want one for a long time.Thanks. _Lisa

    1. I will get to it soon. My preliminary look seems to be that it is a very straightforward N-ary puzzle that is rather beautifully made.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    I played that wooden puzzle and it is exactly like the Chinese nine linked rings. I like it.

    1. Absolutely! It is not a tough puzzle - just a nicely made and rather pretty version. Quite a lot of moves to the complete solution too.