Mechanical Puzzle Classification

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“What kind of a puzzle is this? Are there others like it? ” Our customers ask this question all the time. Serious puzzle collectors who own  Jerry Slocum’s books about mechanical puzzles can quickly answer these questions by looking at his Mechanical Puzzle Classification and Taxonomy. Now you can too.
This Mechanical Puzzle Classification system was devised by Jerry Slocum and is used here with his permission. by Jerry Slocum - all rights reserved.

Mechanical Puzzle Types (Example name is in bold)

1. Put-Together Puzzles - Putting the object together is the puzzle.

1.1 Two Dimensional assembly puzzles (Tangrams, Anchor, T, jigsaw, etc.)

1.2 Three Dimensional assembly puzzles - Non-Interlocking (Soma, etc.)

1.3 Miscellaneous put-together-(Instant Insanity, puzzle rings, etc.)

1.4 Matchstick puzzles

2. Take-Apart Puzzles - Taking the object apart or open is the puzzle.

2.1 Trick or secret opening puzzles - (Puzzle Boxes, etc.)

2.2 Secret Compartment puzzles (Slopes, coins, etc.)

2.3 Trick locks & keys

2.4 Trick matchboxes (matchsafes)

2.5 Trick knives

3. Interlocking Solid Puzzles - Disassembly & assembly to solve puzzle.

3.1 Figural (Animals, objects, etc.)

3.2 Geometric objects (Cube, etc.)

3.3 Three D jigsaw puzzles

3.4 Burr Puzzles

3.5 Keychain puzzles

3.6 Miscellaneous interlocking solid puzzles

4. Disentanglement Puzzles - Disentanglement & entanglement to solve puzzle

4.1 Cast Iron & sheet metal puzzles

4.2 Wire puzzles (Chinese Rings, etc.)

4.3 String puzzles (non-rigid disentanglement)

4.4 Miscellaneous disentanglement puzzles

5. Sequential Movement Puzzles - Moving the parts of object to a goal is the puzzle.

5.1 Solitaire puzzles (Remove pegs, counters, etc. by jumping)

5.2 Counter puzzles (Rearrange counters, pegs,  etc. by jumping)

5.3 Sliding piece puzzles (2D & 3D)

5.4 Rotating cube puzzles (3D-Rubik’s cube, etc.)

5.5 Maze & route puzzles

5.6 Miscellaneous sequential movement puzzles (Tower of Hanoi, etc.)

5.7 Maze and Labyrinths for People

6. Dexterity Puzzles - Manual dexterity is primary to solve puzzle.

3.1 Throw & catch (Cup & ball, etc.)

6.2 Rolling ball puzzles

6.3 Maze dexterity puzzles

6.4 Miscellaneous dexterity puzzles

7. Puzzle Vessels - Drinking without spilling, or filling a vessel is the puzzle.

(Puzzle Jugs, Bottom fill wine & tea pots, Pitchers, etc.)

8. Vanish Puzzles - The Puzzle is to explain a vanished or changed image.

(Loyd’s Get Off the Earth, etc.)

9. Folding Puzzles - The puzzle is to fold a paper or hinged object to form a specified pattern. (2D & 3D)

(Fifth Pig Puzzle, etc.)

10. Impossible Puzzles - The puzzle is to explain how an object was made or why it behaves in a seemingly impossible way.

(Arrow thru bottle, celt. etc.)

Most of Cleverwood’s puzzles are types 1 - 6 although we do have examples of some of the other types.

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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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