Haselgrove Box

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 by Gabriel | 5 comments
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This will be the first of several reviews I'll be writing for Puzzle Crafthouse's puzzles, all in the coming weeks. Doing the first honors is the Haselgrove Box designed by the British inventor Jennifer Haselgrove and produced at Puzzle Crafthouse

Described as being based on the old Egyptian pyramids' locking mechanism, the puzzle uses an ingenious sliding block system to lock the pieces inside the wooden box. The goal, as you may have guessed by now, is to remove the pieces by figuring out how they're locked.

As you first inspect the box and try to remove the first piece, you'll notice that only a small block comes out, but this is actually part of a larger piece. Another careful inspection will reveal a much larger piece in the shape of an H and what appears to be a piece glued to the box's edge. After that first block is pulled and you start tilting the box to the sides, you'll hear something move inside. This is the blocks sliding around with your movements.

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The hard part about this level 4 puzzle (harder levels are 5 and 5+), is realizing how the blocks slide and what movements you should do in order to take out the pieces. Since you're not seeing how the actual pieces move about, you must use your hearing to decode where the block is moving from and to. It may seem very complex, but I can tell you that it won't take that long to solve the puzzle if you're persistent. If you do solved the first part, which is taking out the pieces, and thought it was very hard, wait until you start thinking about the way to put them back in the box. 

After successfully removing all the pieces, you won't be aware of all the exact steps used to get there. When I got the blocks out, I wasn't paying much attention to their correct place inside the box and just drop them on the table - Big mistake!... Or not. Actually, the fun part and the beauty of the puzzle itself was studying it and figure out where to place every block, to discover how the locking mechanism really works.

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The first thing you'll notice when you have all the pieces out is that there's not only one glued block to the box, but two of them. This will prove to be part of the overall mechanism that makes the blocks slide and not jam in each other. Another neat detail about the puzzle design is that the larger main piece, when looking at it sideways, looks like a J and when viewed from above, looks like an H - The initials of the inventor.

Understanding how the pieces move is halfway to solve the puzzle. When you lift the first block, it will create an empty space inside the box. This in turn, allows the other blocks to move around and create a unique sequence of movements that will be the key to unlock the main piece.

Looking at all the pieces, you can separate them into four different types. In fact, there's three unique pieces and six identical blocks. Knowing the positions of the two larger pieces is easy, since there's only one way they correspond to the box configuration. The tricky part is learning where the L-shaped block will go and how to position each of the six blocks.

Ok, so if you think about it, the L block has to be placed in a corner and be stationary. The only blocks that will be sliding are the identical ones, and the only effective way of doing this is if they move around the central glued block. If you get the bottom part correct, the rest will follow in no time. To get to the final layer of sliding blocks, you'll just need one that links these two layers. This block is the only one that needs to be in the upright position and will go up or down, depending if you're locking the pieces again or taking them out.

Once you have the right sequence of movements learned and ready, just place the two largest pieces and lock the puzzle again. Now that you know how the mechanism works, try to unlock it again to see how you'll do...

Video - Video made by Puzzle Crafthouse to show how the Haselgrove Box works (Spoiler).

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Closing Comments:

Lately, I have become more aware of puzzle locking systems with the Trick Locks, but usually they're more like one or two basic moves. On the contrary, the Haselgrove Box is a fantastic puzzle in the way that it uses a unique sequence of movements. Having to unlock it and then knowing how to lock it again is what makes this a very interesting puzzle. In general, a great experience, recommended to those interested in any type of locking mechanism puzzles.

Also worth mentioning is the overall high quality of the wooden puzzle, and this is a Puzzle Crafthouse hallmark with all of their puzzles.


Roxanne Miller said...

I just played with The version of this that Jon Lin made. It was so much fun. I felt really bad though. When I was flipping it around to "hear" the moves I accidentally dumped out everything. Like you, I had two puzzles in one.

Jerry said...

Nice review...and the price from Creative Crafthouse is very reasonable too!

Gabriel said...

@Rox - Indeed, a very cool puzzle to solve, even more on the second challenge.

@Jerry - Thanks Jerry! You're gonna love the puzzle :)

Chris, Debra, Clare and Drew said...

I don't know how many people can "open" this without at least a little guesswork. Figuring out how to get everything back was extremely satisfying. I love that the big piece spells out the initials of the inventer. VERY clever!

Gabriel said...

Hi Chris, Debra, Clare and Drew,

Indeed, opening the box has a little guesswork and luck involved. I also loved to find out how to put it back. It's like figuring out an ancient enigma.

Cheers ;-)

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