Introduction: 3 Post Puzzle

Picture of 3 Post Puzzle

This is a fun puzzle that is pretty easy to make. The goal is to remove the ring from the post. The solution is similar to a few of my previous puzzles shown here and here. I'm not sure who the originator of this puzzle is but similar styles are commonly sold online or in gift shops. A video of the solution is shown as the last step.

Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Miter Saw
  • Drill Press
  • 3/8, 3/4" and 7/8" Drill Bits
  • 1.5" hole saw
  • Sander
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Lighter


  • Wood - 5.25" Square by 3/4" Thick
  • Wood - 2" Square by 1/4" Thick or a Ring (ID larger than 3/4")
  • Dowel - 3/4" Diameter by 6.5" Long
  • Paint/Stain (optional)
  • Paracord (24" Long)
  • Wood Beads (3/4" Diameter)

Step 2: Drawing

Picture of Drawing

You will be building to this drawing. The overall size is arbitrary. You can scale the design up or down based on your materials.

Step 3: Base

Picture of Base

Cut the equilateral triangle (all sides equal / 60 degree internal angles) as shown. I used a miter saw to make these cuts.

Step 4: Drill Holes

Picture of Drill Holes

Mark the hole locations by drawing lines 3/4" from the sides. The intersections are where you will drill the holes. I used a 3/4" diameter Forstner drill bit and went about half way through the base.

Step 5: Break Sharp Edges

I rounded all the edges (besides the holes) with a hand sander.

Step 6: Post

Picture of Post

Mark the 2" and 1.5" locations on a 3/4" diameter dowel. I practiced on scrap by drilling the 3/8" diameter hole in one shot. This method tore the back face of the dowel and looked pretty bad. I went back and drilled a 1/8" hole through the dowel. I then drilled the 3/8" bit from both sides. This produced a very clean cut.

Step 7: Paint/Stain

Picture of Paint/Stain

This step is optional. I added a dark walnut stain to all the parts followed by a couple coats of polyurethane.

Step 8: Add Posts to Base

Picture of Add Posts to Base

Align the three post as shown in Step 3. Glue into place.

Step 9: Ring

Picture of Ring

You can either purchase a ring or make your own. I made this one from a 1/4" thick piece of pine. I used a 1.5" diameter hole saw to cut the circle. I then used a 7/8" diameter Forstner drill bit for the center hole. Note that you can use the original piece of wood for a guide. I just wrapped a piece of duct tape around the 1.5" slug to make a tight fit in the original piece.

Step 10: Ring - Painted / Stained

Picture of Ring - Painted / Stained

I made a couple of rings. I finished one in light oak. The other was painted with yellow spray paint.

Step 11: Beads

Picture of Beads

I used a 3/8" drill to add counterbores to one side of each bead. These are needed to capture the knot in the paracord. Note that this picture is showing both sides of the beads.

Step 12: Add Paracord

Picture of Add Paracord

You are now ready to assemble the puzzle. The following steps give away the solution. Don't read any farther if you want to try to solve it mentally. Start by cutting a piece of paracord to 24".

Step 13: Assemble - Step 1

Picture of Assemble - Step 1

Place a ring on the top post as shown. Feed the paracord through the bottom post. Add the beads to the ends of the paracord. Tie a knot on both ends. Add glue to the knots and pull them into the counterbores.

Step 14: Assemble - Step 2

Picture of Assemble - Step 2

Feed the paracord through the top post as shown.

Step 15: Assemble - Step 3

Picture of Assemble - Step 3

Feed the paracord through the bottom right post as shown. Place the bead through the loop as shown above. Pull the loop back through the post.

Step 16: Assemble - Step 4

Picture of Assemble - Step 4

Repeat this process on the bottom left post.

Step 17: Assemble - Step 5

Picture of Assemble - Step 5

Pull on the beads to tighten the loop around the top post. The puzzle is now ready to be solved.

Step 18: Pictures

Picture of Pictures

Final pictures of the puzzle.

Step 19: Outside Pictures

Picture of Outside Pictures

Step 20: Solution Video

If it wasn't clear from the pictures, hopefully this video helps.


GrahamJ12 made it! (author)2017-05-25

This is my attempt, I gave it a felt base to sit on, i'm quite pleased with the outcome and thought I would put it in the craft section of my local village show. Thanks for sharing it.

mtairymd (author)GrahamJ122017-05-25

Nice job. The felt was a good idea.

Mihsin (author)2017-04-17

Good looking geometry. I make these and similar ones to give away as presents.

mtairymd (author)Mihsin2017-04-17

Thanks. I plan on giving them away as well.

kleinknstler made it! (author)2017-04-17

Fast and fun project :)
Thank you!

mtairymd (author)kleinknstler2017-04-17

Thanks. BTW, I like the nut idea.

CatherineS72 (author)2017-04-14

Awesome! I love the colours you chose :) This is a fun little project, I'll get back to you if I make it!

mtairymd (author)CatherineS722017-04-14

Thank you.

necu (author)2017-04-14

wood is great but printing would be funny too ;) i share the design at
i will delete if it is inappropriate

Thnks for sharing

mtairymd (author)necu2017-04-14

Man, you are quick :). I usually drop the CAD files over when I have time.


andrej (author)2017-04-13

I love those 'impossible' puzzles

mtairymd (author)andrej2017-04-13

Yeah, me too :)

retiredphnman (author)2017-04-13

Very cool

mtairymd (author)retiredphnman2017-04-13

Thank you

mlawing (author)2017-04-13

Great article!

mtairymd (author)mlawing2017-04-13


About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
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