About Randal Gatewood

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...I tend to be a perfectionist” -Randal Gatewood rg_randal_box open.jpg (68913 bytes)

It seems to be true that perfectionism is a required trait for puzzle box creation. One close look at Randal’s first puzzle box - the Double Crossed Puzzle Box - will validate his claim. The woodworking skills required of top quality puzzle box makers are closer to the skills of a jeweler than a of a carpenter. Measurements have to be precise to 1/1000 of an inch sometimes. Even the minute natural expansion and contraction of the wood must be accounted for. Perfectionism is a required trait of a puzzle box maker.

When Randal first contacted Cleverwood on October 19, 2003 asking us to look at his puzzle box, we were skeptical. We hear from people fairly frequently who claim to be able to produce original puzzle boxes. It usually turns out that they have an idea, or a plan, but do not have the ability to actually build the box. On top of that, their idea is usually not a new idea. But Randal said he had a finished prototype of his puzzle box. We asked that he send it to us. We were shocked when it arrived. Randal’s Double Crossed Puzzle Box is magnificent - the work of a perfectionist and a talented woodworker, yes indeed.

“Most of my skills are self taught and perfected through persistence and trial and error. I was brought up to believe that a job worth doing is worth doing right. Having taken this to heart early in my life and that being my premise in any project I engage in, I tend to be a perfectionist. I truly strive to do the absolute best I can or I really don’t want to do it. Even if I do the best I can and don’t like the results, I will research it and do it over until it is right. Basically, if I’m not happy with it, then I can’t justify that anyone else will be happy with it. The absolute most enjoyable thing for me is the creative process. The process of mind to manifestation is the ultimate challenge.”
- Randal Gatewood
rg_cutting_spline_slots.jpg (31609 bytes)Though Randal has been a serious wood worker for well over 20 years, he did not get involved in the puzzle world until early 2003, but his craftsmanship is certainly the reflection of a skilled artisan. He admits that prior to building his first puzzle box that he had no knowledge about the history of puzzle boxes or the work of other puzzle box designers and makers. This is a good thing. His designs are totally original - he has not been influenced by anyone. We asked him what encouraged him to build puzzle boxes, Randal said~

"My first puzzle box was given to me by a friend many years ago. I had never seen one before that and it really intrigued me. For many years thereafter, I looked for more puzzle boxes. I had seen some the small "trick" boxes that folks were calling puzzle boxes, though I thought they were neat - I was really looking for more complex and challenging puzzle boxes . So I knew puzzle boxes existed, I just didn't have any historical knowledge of them. The lack of finding complex puzzle boxes only intrigued me more to want to try my skills at building them. It also helped spark my imagination for my own 'vision' of what I thought a puzzle box should be. I suppose you could say that I've been designing puzzle boxes in my imagination for quite a few years. I still have sketches of ideas that I dreamed up of well over 10 years ago. My Double Crossed box design is based on one of those ideas. Now it seems as though I can't work fast enough to prototype new designs!" - Randal Gatewood

As you can see, his own "vision" results in designs that are totally original! What you can see in Randal's designs in a three dimensional depth of detail that really makes his puzzle boxes unique. When asked about how he goes about the design process, Randal said~

“I suppose that it starts with a single image in my mind. I kind of draw it out on the 'black board' in my head and if I can manipulate the parts of the image into something that seems to work.... it's the beginning of a concept. In building the “Double Crossed” puzzle box, I found the entire creation to be a combination of artistic gesture with mechanical ingenuity. To me, a craft is a personal expression of its creator. In working with wood, I let the wood dictate many aspects of the design. The colors, grain, density, and cut orientation all play a role in the creative process. It is a matter of finding the right balance with all of the elements. I create better at the work bench with the wood in hand than I do with pencil and paper. This whole process is most rewarding for me. In summary, my hands are the tools of my imagination which fashion the wood into the vehicle that produces the final expression of my imagination. If that expression is a true representation of my imagination, then I am most satisfied. My hope is that others will see that expression and find enjoyment in it as well.” - Randal Gatewood

Randal joined the Cleverwood Artists in 2003. He’s working as a full time puzzle box maker doing business as Quagmire Puzzle Boxes™ . All his skills, knowledge, and abilities will be utilized to create amazing new puzzle boxes exclusively for Cleverwood Fine Woodworking.

rg_making_hinges.jpg (39228 bytes)For more information on Randal’s Boxes, please visit: www.QuagmirePuzzleBoxes.com

A note on Limited Editions: In the past, the term 1st Edition and 2nd Edition were use to describe a batch or batches of boxes made in a single Limited Edition design. The terminology has been confusing for us and our customers. To clarify, Randal Gatewood and Scott Richards have collaborated and defined what "Limited Edition" means. To read this definition and learn more about unlimited editions, click here.

~Click on a photo for more information about the box~

Keepers Key The Box Joint Box
bulletTotal Moves: 6 - Difficulty Rating: Difficult
bulletOutside Dimensions: L3" X W3" X H3"
bulletInside Dimensions: L2.5" X W2.5" X H2.25"
bulletTotal Box Weight: 4.5 oz
bulletSlocum Classification: 2.1
Keepers Key The Uncle Herbart Stash & Stow Box
bulletL 4.25" x W 1.5" x H 6.125"
bulletLarge Inside Compartment: L 2.675" x W .875" x H 5.125"
bulletDifficulty: Moderate - 8 Moves
bulletHandmade by Randal Gatewood
bulletSlocum Classification: 2.1
Keepers Key Aztec Calendar Jigsaw Puzzle
bulletHigh quilty laser engraved puzzle
bullet240 Alder peace puzzle, Made by Randal G.
bulletMade to the High woodworking standers of Quagmire Puzzles
bulletAlder box and felt protective cloth included
bulletDifficulty: Difficult
Keepers Key Keepers Key Safe Puzzle
bulletLimited edition, signed and numbered
bulletSecond Batch available soon
bulletOriginal design, Handmade by Randal G.
bulletModerate -  Difficult, Very Unique Puzzle
Keepers Key Box of ZN
bulletLimited edition, signed and numbered
bulletOriginal design, Handmade by Randal G.
bulletMade to the High woodworking standers of Quagmire Puzzles
bulletDifficult - employs the unique "Quagmire Panel"
The Ultimate Personal Box The Ultimate Personal Box
bulletDifficulty: Very Difficult - possible 1,300+ combinations!
bulletHandmade by Randal Gatewood
bulletMade from High Quilty Birdseye Maple & Purple Heart Hardwoods
bulletLimited edition of 60/ 1st batch will be of #1 - #20
bulletSolution booklet and Certificate of Authenticity included
rg_doublecrossed_small.jpg (7829 bytes) Double Crossed Puzzle
bulletLimited edition, signed and numbered
bulletVery fine woodworking
bulletOriginal design, Handmade by Randal G.
bulletVery difficult - take-apart puzzle and dexterity puzzle
The Ultimate Personal Box QPB Laser Services
bulletWooden Plaques, Brass Award Plaques and Black Marble Plaques
bulletBusiness Card Boxes, Classic Family Games
bulletOptic Crystal Paperweights, Wooden Nickels
bulletMarble Tiles, Marble Gifts, Custom Theme Plaques


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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