These beautiful wooden puzzles are called "Kumiki" in Japanese. Kumiki, loosely translated, means "woven or interlocking wood." Also known as burr puzzles, this particluar style takes the burr type and embellishes it to create shapes of familiar objects. These puzzles are handcrafted, and each one is a small work of art. The precision of workmanship that is evident in the fit of the pieces is amazing. It is thought that these puzzles may have evolved from training projects, as master woodworkers in Japan centuries ago tutored their apprentices in the art of constructing wooden buildings using entirely interlocking pieces, and the amazing absence of any metal parts or fasteners. This type of construction proved immune to the shaking of earthquakes, a not uncommon event in Japan. This type of puzzle is still made by craftsmen in Japan, in particular in the Hakone area outside of Tokyo. Wood-workers the world over enjoy designing and crafting wooden puzzles, and they can be found at every level of complexity and cost.

The largest kumiki wooden puzzle collection in Canada?
Over 100 different puzzles. (A few are shown here.)

Back in the 1960's I began collecting these toy wooden puzzles.
Whenever I came across one, I'd add it to my collection.
But these days I've noticed that they simply can't be found
in stores any more. Perhaps in this age of plastic and
computer games, they just aren't popular. Do you collect
wooden puzzles? Do you have any kicking aroung the house?
If you have any you'd be willing to sell, I'm interested! :-)
(For scale, wooden puzzles are typically about the size
of an apple.)

Click here to see an animated assembly of the cube.
Three different size pagodas
and two different size Japanese Torii's.
a pig,
a turtle,
and a dog.
More animals!
a lion, elephant, giraffe,
and a kangaroo.
And more animals :-)
a bird, a chicken, a rabbit
and a mouse.
a cabin, the Empire State Building,
and city hall.
(yep, they're not to scale.)
Geometric shapes
These things are easy to take apart.
this one is
Very hard to put back together!
this one is really
really hard to put back together!!
of four different sizes.
Three, and a helicopter :-)
they don't shoot anything.
Duodecahedrons (sort of) and barrels
a tank,
a truck,
a jeep,
and a train.
Even outer space!
two rocket ships
and two satellites.

If you are a wooden puzzle enthusiast, I'd be glad to hear from you! (john.childs@cogeco.ca)

Useful Links:
You can learn more about wooden puzzles, and buy them at this website: www.cleverwood.com
And here's another website where you can buy kumiki puzzles: www.puzzleboxworld.com
Or check out: Puzzles, Jigsaws and Brain teasers and unique 3d wooden puzzle toys at: www.craftypuzzles.com