I've been interested in mathematical puzzles for a long time, and now I've gotten the opportunity to make my own puzzles out of lasercut acrylic. If you're interested in these puzzles, you may also want to look at my main recreational mathematics page. I am also keeping a blog that is mostly on the subject. Direct sales from this page are on hiatus, but some of my puzzles can be purchased at Cloud Cap Games, in Portland, Oregon, and you can also contact me if you are interested in acquiring one of these.
This was my first foray into designing lasercut puzzles. It was inspired by Kadon's Fill-Agree puzzle, and in fact, Kadon produced this puzzle for me. L-topia contains 12 L-shaped pieces with circular and square holes in various positions. A number of challenges for positioning the circles and squares are provided. More info on some of the things you can do with the set is available here.
I returned to making lasercut puzzles after I acquired a membership at Portland TechShop. While there I learned how to operate their laser cutter myself, which was quite a bit of fun. I had previously discovered that the full set of 2-, 3-, and 4-ominoes of with a certain symmetry type could tile four 4×4 squares, and this seemed like a great opportunity to make some sets. I found some attractive white 4"×4"×1" boxes that fit both this and L-topia perfectly. A side effect that I did not anticipate is that I have been looking for puzzles that fit in boxes like that ever since.
This was the other puzzle I made at Techshop. This set of shapes was first investigated by Roel Huisman in 2001, and the first solution for the square tiling was found by Peter Esser. My contribution was to add curves connecting the two diagonal sides of each piece. This allows one to work with puzzles that emphasize topology over geometry; for example, one objective would be to arrange the pieces so that the curves for three concentric loops.Its production wasn't perfectly successful; it was time consuming and resulted in a product with small physical flaws. As a puzzle it also leaves something to be desired; it's really too difficult for solving by hand. But I do still like the aesthetic of the contrast between the soft curves and angular piece shapes.
The ten pieces contain up and down pointing outer slots and deep and shallow inner slots in every possible combination. The slots join to form an approximately 2.4" wide ten-pointed star. This was my exchange gift for Gathering for Gardner 10, and led me to a rich vein of "crossed stick" puzzles. This is also the first puzzle for which I used Ponoko's laser cutting service. Nothing beats being able to use a laser cutter yourself, but with Portland Techshop closed, I had to find another way, and Ponoko has generally been suitable for my needs.
This was the second crossed sticks puzzle I discovered. This arrangement of pieces reminded me of the Zia Cross, which appears on the flag of New Mexico. As a bonus puzzle, the pieces can also be assembled into an eight-pointed star. (Shown here are one solved puzzle and the unassembled pieces from a second set.)
These 21 pieces comprise every way of stretching out a pentomino so that the squares they are made from become rectangles. The pieces fit into the box in three square layers. A blog post about this set, with a solution, is here.
[Picture coming soon]
Another crossed stick puzzle, shown here along with the infamous square box. I designed fancy labels for some of my puzzles when Cloud Cap Games picked them up.
Again with the crossed sticks. This one is notable for being able to make eight different patterns.
This was my exchange gift for Gathering for Gardner 11. It's the easiest puzzle I've produced by no small margin, but easy puzzles have their place. After G4G11, I discovered the elastic bands, which are from a product called Rainbow Loom. These hold the pieces in place, allowing the completed puzzle to be used as an ornament. I also gave the Decagram puzzle the same treatment, and this is how I sold these puzzles at G4G12:
Most physical polyomino symmetry variant puzzles I've seen use the shape of the subunits to enforce their symmetry action constaints. The design of Agincourt, however used square subunits with symmetric holes for this purpose. This led me to consider mixing symmetry variants of polyominoes in the same puzzle by using different types of holes. I am indebted here to Bryce Herdt, who solved one of the puzzle's challenges when I posed it on my blog.