Frequently Asked Questions

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bulletCan I pay with a check or Money Order?
bulletI invented/designed a great new puzzle/game - will you manufacture and sell it for me?
bulletWill you give me the solution for a puzzle I have that I can’t solve?
bulletDo your puzzles come with solutions?
bulletCan you engrave the item I buy?
bulletCan you mail me a catalog?
bulletDo you have Chinese Puzzle Boxes?
bulletDo you offer a Guarantee?
bulletCan you gift wrap my order?
bulletIs there a minimum order amount?
bulletI found a Japanese puzzle box you offer at another web site at a lower price - will you match their price?
bulletDo you offer a discount for large purchases?
bulletWill you tell me how to make a puzzle box?
bulletDo you have a “Hellraiser (the movie) Puzzle Box”?
bulletCan you fix my broken puzzle box?
bulletDo you do custom work?
bulletDo you sell your puzzle boxes on ebay® or other auction sites?
bulletDo you wholesale?
bulletHow difficult are your puzzles?
bulletWhy is there a coin showing in most of your photos?
bulletWhy don’t you have Costa Rican or Turkish Puzzle Boxes?
bulletDo you have Gift Certificates?
bulletWhat kind of a puzzle is . . . ?
bulletWhat is the Slocum Classification number?
bulletHow do you pronounce . . . ?
bulletIf I buy a signed, limited edition puzzle box will the value go up?
bulletWhy is it so difficult to find Japanese Puzzle Boxes?
bulletWhen describing Japanese Hakone Puzzle Boxes, what does "sun" mean ?
bulletWhat is your Privacy Policy?
bulletWhat do the stock status notes on your item lists mean?
bulletWhy are some of your items marked “Sold Out” for long periods of time?
bulletWhat do you mean by the term “Classic”?
bulletWhat do you mean by the term “Original Design”?
bulletWhat do you mean by the term “Licensed Reproduction”?
bulletWhat do you mean by the term “Handcrafted”?
bulletWhere do you get your tropical exotic wood?

Can I pay with a check or Money Order?
Yes you can! Just call us up and place an order. We'll give you a total with S&H and then you can mail us a check or money order for the appropriate amount. As soon as we receive your payment we'll get your order out to you. That's it!.

~Our Phone Number~

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Catalog
This web site is our catalog. We’re sorry but we do not have a printed catalog we can send you. In the past we printed a 6 page flyer and mailed it, but it was very expensive and it was always out of date. We add new items to our line-up all the time. 
You can use your computer’s printer to print-out any pages of this web site you so desire.

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How Difficult is Difficult?
Our difficulty ratings are based on our personal observation of both talented children and adults trying to solve Cleverwood’s puzzles at our “Try Me” table at Art & Crafts Fairs. Serious puzzle collectors and gifted and experienced puzzle solvers may find that our difficulty ratings are somewhat overstated. The difficulty ratings ranges from Easy to Very Difficult.
We are currently working on a new comprehensive difficulty rating system for mechanical puzzles. It should be completed next year. Click here to read about it.

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Certified Tropical Exotic Hardwood
The Cleverwood Artists prefer to use high quality domestic hardwoods in all their woodworks but more and more people are requesting exotic tropical woods. We are concerned about the destruction of the rain forests but have learned that virtually all rain forest destruction is caused by agricultural activities, not logging. Nevertheless, we try to use only tropical hardwood that comes from sustained yield sources.
One of our suppliers is the Lomerio Forestry Project. This small indigenous community-based forestry management and wood processing enterprise is located in the Santa Cruz region of southeastern Bolivia. The project involves some 25 Chiquintana Indian communities and directly benefits an estimated 7,000 local people. The Lomerio project has been certified by Rain forest Alliance’s Smart Wood Program as a well-managed source of wood products.

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Can you engrave the item I buy?                                                                                                                                                                                                     We can get most Heartwood items laser engraved for you with a logo at no additional charge on orders of 50 or more of a single item. We can also have engraved any of our other wooden items for a fee. This fee varies depending on number of boxes, number of words, etc... If you would like an item your ordering to be engraved, just put a note requesting it in the comments bar on the Online Order Form. For other custom engraving woke see Custom Work below.

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Availability of Our Work
While we aim is to have a reasonable amount of all our items in stock and ready to ship, we cannot guarantee that all items will be available at all times. We always add new items every year. Items that do not sell well are dropped when current supplies have been sold.   Items may be marked “Sold Out” for long periods of time if we cannot reorder the item at this time but believe that they will be available in the future.

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Puzzle Solutions
People who like to solve puzzles generally do not want to see the solution. They want the satisfaction of solving the puzzle themselves.
Most of the items we sell come with the solution provided by the maker. Most makers do provide some kind of solution, usually a diagram or written instructions, or both. Some makers, notably Pentangle, do not provide solutions for their puzzles.
So, when reading the pages of the Cleverwood web site the rule is this: All our puzzles come with a solution unless the web page says that no solution is provided.

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Do you offer a discount for large purchases?

In short, no. Some specific items we carry are available with a quantity discount, but we do not offer a flat rate large order discount.

Check out or Large Quantity Items page.

Will you give me the solution for a puzzle I have that I can’t solve?

Would you ask a magician how a trick is done? If you would, do you think the magician would tell you? The answer to the second question is almost always “No.”

Puzzles are a little different. Since you buy the puzzle, we believe you are entitled to have the solution provided by the seller. So, if you bought the puzzle from Cleverwood, and lost the solution, we’ll send you another one.
However, we can tell you that most serious puzzle solvers NEVER look at the solution. The value of a puzzle is in the satisfaction you feel when YOU solve it. It's not uncommon to have a puzzle that you work on, on and off, for years until you finally get it.

Like magicians, puzzle makers and sellers have an understanding among themselves that they will not give away one another's secrets. One magician will not tell how another magician's trick is done. Many puzzle designers would be unhappy if we gave away their puzzle solution to people who didn’t buy their puzzle from us. We will not do that - unless you bought the puzzle you can’t solve from Cleverwood we will not give you the solution.

Finally, Nob Yasagahara, the world famous puzzle inventor does not include the solution with his puzzles at all. Here's what Nob says about puzzle solutions and the people who ask for them: “Many puzzle people in the world asked me ‘Give us the solution of (the) Chain (Puzzle).’ Oskar said also,   ‘Add (the) solution in its package.’ If you gave up your honor, (and) patience, you can click (the link) below. I give you my permission for cheating.”

So, if you have no honor, and no patience, and consider yourself to be a cheater, you can see if the puzzle you can’t solve is listed at this web site: www.puzzlesolver.com/index.shtml.

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Can you fix my broken puzzle box?

Sorry - no we can not. Cleverwood has offered repaired services in the past, but is not at the time.

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Do you have Gift Certificates?
Sorry - no we do not. We did offer Gift Certificates for two years but too many people tried to use them to commit credit card fraud.

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Classic
A classic puzzle is one that was invented long ago, and has been made in various forms, by various artists, for many years. These puzzles are in the “public domain.”

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Original Design
A puzzle that has been invented by a named artist is an original design. A puzzle that is based on a classic mechanism but that has been redesigned more than 50% is also considered to be an original design. Original designs by other artists that we produce are properly credited to the inventor.

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Licensed Reproduction
A original design that is being produced by another enterprise is a licensed reproduction, or copy. Often, licensed copies are factory produced and are usually not as good quality as the item produced by the inventor. Some licensed copies are very good indeed, and are available at a much lower price than the original.

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Handcrafted
At Cleverwood “handcrafted” means that the Artist(s) use traditional hand and power tools to make each item. We do not use lasers, or computer controlled machines, or automatic machines, to produce our work.

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Puzzle Box  Plans
Here is a link to a web page that has a detailed plan to make a Japanese type puzzle box: Amateur Woodworker

The only other published plans for puzzle boxes we’ve ever seen are in back issues of American Woodworking magazine. We know of no book that describes how to make puzzle boxes.  
If you really want to make a puzzle box of your own you can do it if you think about it carefully and experiment with various ideas and methods. Others have done it - so can you. We wish you “Good Luck!” And, if you invent something good, we might be persuaded to market it for you! :-)

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Custom Work
Cleverwood now offers custom laser engraving work, on any of our puzzles or boxes with a solid, flat face. We do not offer any artwork for this service - all designs must be submitted by the customer. Each job will be bid on an individual basis. Typical cost for engraving a small box is  $25.

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Will you produce the puzzle/game I designed?
You’d be surprised at how many people ask this question. There are quite a few people who have invented what they believe is a new puzzle. Some of them have made actual plans, some have made a working prototype, others just have a great idea.
There are many people with great ideas for mechanical puzzles - there are very few producers of mechanical puzzles. In our experience, the producers have plenty of great ideas of their own and little interest in manufacturing the designs of others.
The inventor of Chaos Tiles, Ed Pegg Jr. had them manufactured somewhere in Asia. If you’re willing to pay for the dies and tooling, materials, labor, shipping and importing fees you can have your puzzle or game produced this way too. Expect to order multiple thousands of each item made.
If you do find a way to produce your puzzle, Cleverwood may consider selling it for you here on this web site. Contact us about this after you have inventory of your puzzle on hand.

Please do not send us your designs, plans, samples, or prototypes unless we ask you to do so. All unsolicited material delivered here will be discarded unopened.

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Chinese Puzzle Boxes
What everyone thinks of as Chinese Puzzle Boxes are really Japanese Puzzle Boxes, and yes, we have them here on this web site. We believe people think they are Chinese because they used to be sold in gift shops in “Chinatown” in various cities in the USA in the 50’s & 60’s. People must have just assumed they were Chinese. But, the truth is that they are made in Hakone, Japan and have been made there for more than 100 years.
If there are any genuine Chinese puzzle boxes they are as yet undiscovered. In 1998, International Puzzle Party #18 was held in Tokyo. Later, a group of puzzlers including Jerry Slocum, the Sandfield brothers, and 16 other serious puzzle collectors, went on a two week puzzling expedition to China. They found Chinese puzzle vessels of all kinds, and some other mechanical puzzles, but no Chinese Puzzle Boxes. If you know of a genuine Chinese Puzzle Box that is not a copy of a Japanese Puzzle Box, please let us know about it!

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The "Sun" Size System
"Sun" is a traditional Japanese unit of measure to denote length. 1 Sun is about 30.3 mm or about 1.22 inches. This system is used to describe the approximate size of Hakone Puzzle Boxes. Note that the sun system does not describe the width or height, or the size of the inside compartment.

Length
in Inches
1 sun 1.22
1.5 sun 1.83
2 sun 2.44
2.5 sun 3.05
3 sun 3.66
4 sun 4.88
5 sun 6.10
6 sun 7.32
7 sun 8.54

We consider 1 & 1.5 sun boxes to be miniature (mame). 2, 2.5, and 3 sun boxes are small boxes. 4 sun boxes are medium size. 5 sun is the standard size. 6 sun is large. And 7 sun is very large.

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Privacy Policy
Cleverwood respects your privacy.
We believe that the personal information you provide to us is your property, not ours.

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise distribute your personal information to any other individual or organization for any purpose whatsoever.

When you place an order with Cleverwood, or join our mailing list, you are guaranteed that all information  you provide including your name, address, telephone number and credit card number will be secure with us.

Cleverwood is registered with ePublic Eye. Our customers have given us an overall satisfaction rating of more than 95% “Very Satisfied,” - “5 Thumbs-up”and 100% for on time delivery. Please look at ePublic Eye’s current report about Cleverwood and read the  comments of our customers ~

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Stock Status Key
In Stock – this item is ready to ship to you today.
In Transit – the supplier says that this item is definitely on the way to
   us. Items from overseas may take up to 6 weeks to arrive.
Sold Out – our current supply of this item has been sold. We'll order
  more soon, if possible.
Discontinued – this item is Sold Out and will be dropped from our
   active lists soon, and moved to the List of Discontinued Items.
Sign-up – this item will be made in a limited edition. Add your name
  to the waiting list if you want to be offered one when they are finished.
  Sign-up items are almost never "In Stock."

 

 

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Why is there a coin showing in most of your photos?
In many photos that coin is a US 25 cent piece - a “quarter.” Today we use a Canadian maple leaf 1/2 ounce gold piece - it’s about the same size as a quarter but not as distracting. The coins are there to give you a way to visually compare the size of the different items we offer. The bigger the coin looks, the smaller the item is.

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Why don’t you have Costa Rican Puzzle Boxes?
The quality of the best Costa Rican Puzzle Boxes is not good enough for our customers. That’s why we don’t carry Turkish Puzzle Boxes or Polish Jewelry boxes either. We want our customers to be happy with their purchases - not disappointed.

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Do you sell your puzzle boxes on ebay® or other auction sites?
No, Cleverwood does not sell any of our items on auction sites. We believe that use of these sites encourage artificially high prices that eventually result in customer dissatisfaction and resentment. All our high quality, guaranteed, items are offered on this website at low fixed prices on a first come first served basis. We’ve seen some Hakone Puzzle Boxes sold for more than triple our price on auction sites. We believe it would be unethical to take advantage of our customers in this way.

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Will you match a lower price on another web site?
Since we started selling puzzle boxes on the Internet in 1997 we’ve seen many other web sites come and go. And just before they go out of business they almost always cut their prices to their cost or below.
We believe that Cleverwood offers the best quality Japanese Puzzle Boxes at the best prices anywhere outside Japan - every day. We purchase the highest quality boxes directly from the makers in Japan at the lowest possible cost.
The “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” principle applies to Japanese Puzzle Boxes. The craftsman who makes the puzzle box itself does not make the yosegi or zougan overlay that covers the box. They buy it in sheets from yosegi makers and apply it to their boxes. So two boxes that look exactly alike may be vastly different in quality when one is made by a master craftsman and the other is made by an apprentice. The masters box will work flawlessly, the apprentice’s box may barely work at all.
The apprentice-made boxes are meant for the domestic Japanese tourist souvenir market. They are intended to be sold to Japanese school children on holiday in Hakone at a low price.
So, if you find what looks like one of our boxes for less elsewhere, you can be sure that either the box is of inferior quality or the web site selling it probably won’t be in business much longer, or both.
Cleverwood is here today and we’ll be here tomorrow. We always have the best value, the highest quality, the greatest selection, the longest guarantee, and our famous excellent customer service.

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If I buy a signed, limited edition puzzle box will the value go up?
We don’t recommend that you purchase any art or craft item as an investment. We think you should only buy art that you like and wish to keep.
Whether any item will increase or decrease in value over time is dependent on many factors. Some items do increase in value - others do not.
If you decide to purchase an item from Cleverwood as an investment please understand that Cleverwood does not guarantee the market value of your purchase. If you decide to sell the item some years from now you will need to find a buyer yourself - most likely on an auction web site like ebay®. You can ask us if Cleverwood will repurchase your item but please be aware that we are under no obligation to do so.

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Do you have a minimum order amount.?
Nope. We do have a minimum shipping fee that will apply no matter the size of your order but any item can be order singularly.

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Do you Wholesale.?
No, not at this time.

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Quality of Traditional Hakone Puzzle Boxes
Sliding panel puzzle boxes are made by a variety of woodworkers in Hakone, Japan. As with woodworkers everywhere some produce better quality work than do others. The well-known master craftsmen make the best traditional puzzle boxes: Ninomiya-san, Honna-Homna-san, Gambara-san, and Okiyama-san.

Today, we purchase only the finest, top quality quality boxes directly from the makers in Japan. In the past, when we were purchasing through agents, importers, exporters, and wholesalers, the quality of the boxes we received ranged from very bad all the way to very good.

Puzzle boxes are not easy to make. Since they depend on friction to work properly it is very difficult to produce a box that is neither too loose nor too tight. This becomes more difficult the larger and more complex the box becomes. Boxes that are too tight can’t be opened. Boxes that are too loose are not much fun for the puzzler. The instability of wood itself presents quite a challenge to the puzzle box maker.

The “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” principle applies to Japanese Puzzle Boxes. The craftsman who makes the puzzle box itself does not make the yosegi or zougan overlay that covers the box. They buy it in sheets from yosegi makers and apply it to their boxes. So two boxes that look exactly alike may be vastly different in quality when one is made by a master craftsman and the other is made by an apprentice. The masters box will work flawlessly, the apprentice’s box may barely work at all.
The apprentice-made boxes are meant for the domestic Japanese tourist souvenir market. They are intended to be sold to school children on holiday in Hakone at a low price.

Finishing is another problem area. Some boxes have a very nice smooth, flat finish. Other boxes have a very poor finish. The lacquer is applied too thickly resulting in a rippled, uneven finish. Sometimes boxes are wrapped in cellophane before the lacquer has completely cured. That totally runes the finish.

In the past, before we began purchasing directly and personally from the makers in Japan ourselves, the quality of the boxes we imported from Japan range from very bad all the way to very good. The boxes were not inspected before they were shipped to us. When asked, one of the sellers even refused to do a quick visual inspection. The boxes could not  be returned for credit or exchange, even if they were totally broken. We had to pay in advance - take it or leave it.

Some of the boxes sent to us were totally unacceptable. They were broken and did not work, or they were totally locked-up and did not work. Or the finish was so bad that we would be ashamed to give the box away free. These boxes cannot be sold to our customers. We used them for sales displays or destroyed them.

Other boxes worked well but had a poor finish. Not unacceptable, but not good either. We sold these boxes as “seconds.”

Many of our customers have asked why Japanese Puzzle Boxes are not readily available in shops in the USA, or in France, or anywhere else. The answer is that poor quality is a big problem. We personally inspect and test each and every box - our inspection tag will be inside your box. Very few people have ever been dissatisfied with a Cleverwood Japanese Puzzle Box. But if you are, we will fix or replace your box, or refund your purchase price within one year of the date you receive the box.

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Guarantee
Everything you purchase from Cleverwood is guaranteed.
If you are not pleased with any item you purchase from us, you may return it (in new condition) a complete refund —

All items, including Japanese Puzzle Boxes, are guaranteed for 1 year from the date you receive them. We will make any reasonable accommodation after 1 year at our discretion.
Your satisfaction is our top priority. We personally inspect every item you order. Please contact us with any questions you may have. 

* This means that since you have no opportunity to physically examine the item you are buying before you buy it, as you would in a “brick and mortar” store, we guarantee that if you don’t like the item when you receive it, for any reason whatsoever - or no reason - we will take it back and refund the total purchase price. Then, if at anytime during your lifetime, the item becomes defective, we will repair or replace it at no cost to you. This clarification was added here on January 15, 2003.

Check our ePublicEye rating too!

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A mechanical puzzle is a self-contained object, composed of one or more parts, which involves a problem for one person to solve by manipulation using logic, reasoning, insight, luck, and/or dexterity.” - Jerry Slocum

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