Introduction: How to Solve a Rubik's Cube (For Goofs)

Picture of How to Solve a Rubik's Cube (For Goofs)

The World's Best Selling Toy, The Magic Cube, The Rubik's Cube!

Since its publishing and distribution to the world in the 1980s this puzzle has made millions angry ever since.

Since you've come here, that means you're ready to get back at this cube for all the pain it's caused.

Let's learn How to Solve a Rubik's Cube.

Step 1: Get a Cube

Before you can solve a Rubik's Cube, you need to have a Rubik's Cube. Although any cube will do, you may want to invest in a Speed Cube. These are high quality cubes that are well suited to solving as fast as possible. A classic Rubik's Cube has stickers on it to make the colors, but after frequent use, these stickers will fade or peel off leaving you with a useless all black (and probably unpleasantly sticky) cube. A speed cube in contrast uses colored plastic that cannot fade or peel off.

In addition, as someone who uses a Speed Cube, I personally can't stand a normal Rubik's Cube anymore. I'm not sure if I can accurately describe how horrible a Rubik's Cube feels versus a Speed Cube. The internal mechanism of a speed cube is far superior to a normal cube. It's like night and day, or melted butter and sandpaper.

Step 2: Learn the Notation

To make this easier to understand, the first thing you will need to learn is the notation used to describe Algorithms.

Yes, that's a scary word, but don't give up yet. It's not as scary as it sounds.

In Rubik's Cubes, an algorithm is a pattern of turns that give a desired result every time. Also if you do them over and over enough, you will eventually get back to where you started.

So think of them as tools in your tool belt to solve specific problems you will find in the solving process.

It would be fairly long winded and horrible to describe them in words and sentences, so we use a notation.

First, we define all 6 faces of the cube.

U = Up

F = Front

D = Down

B = Back

L = Left

R = Right

Simple, right?

However some of the more observant may have realized that this notation is entirely dependent on where you're looking at the cube from.

But each algorithm has a specific way to look at the cube in order for it to work, so you don't have to worry about that.

Since you can turn any face of the cube clockwise or counterclockwise, "Turn L" isn't descriptive enough, therefore we say that "U" means a clockwise turn of the up face, and " U' " means a counterclockwise turn of the up face.

We also can put numbers in front of a face in order to represent multiple turns, so "2L" means two clockwise turns of the left face.

And that is it, that's the entire notation used from here on.

Let's start solving.

Step 3: Scramble the Cube

When your cube comes out of the box, you will immediately notice that it comes out in the solved state.

If you're like me, you may see some inherent value in the cube being solved, so the true first step in learning to solve the cube is to scramble it. Just take a deep breath and do it. You'll get it back solved soon enough.

If you want to have a little bit of fun since it's already solved for you, you can make a checkerboard pattern with the algorithm

2L 2R 2U 2D 2F 2B

Or you can swap out the centerpieces with

R' L B' F U' D R' L

But while that's cool, lets learn how to solve it now.

Step 4: Checkerboard

Picture of Checkerboard

Step 5: Swapped Centers

Picture of Swapped Centers

Step 6: Solve the First Layer

Now that your cube is nice and scrambled, the first thing you need to do is choose a color to start with. I'll be referring to standard Rubik's colors in this guide. (Green, Red, Orange, Yellow, White, Blue) I usually choose randomly or based on whichever side is mostly solved already.

Now we need to solve not only this side, but the entire layer. So first we complete a "cross". So you want your edge pieces to match not only your centerpiece, but also the other 4 adjacent centerpieces. There aren't any algorithms to help you with this, it's mostly intuitive.

Next we need the corner pieces solved so we align them in the same way. However, if you have a corner piece in the right spot, but it's just flipped the wrong way, it can be tricky to get it right. There's one algorithm that can help with this.

R' D' R D

It's designed to take the corner piece in the top right corner of the front face and rotate it around. In 6 repetitions of this algorithm you will return to the same state that you started from, so you will have a solved corner piece in usually around 3 repetitions.

Step 7: First Layer Solved

Picture of First Layer Solved

Step 8: Solve the Second Layer

Now that you have not only a side solved, but the entire first layer. Rotate the cube for convenience so that your solved layer is the Down side. Now the next step is to complete the middle layer between our first color and its opposite side. So all we have to worry about are edge pieces that don't have the color of the top face. If you rotate the top layer around you should notice that it makes a T shape with some edge pieces.

If it makes this shape, then check the other color. If it is the same color as the top face center, then you need to look for another piece. If it is another color, then it's a piece we need to work with.

Next we have to figure out where this piece should be. It should either connect with the front face and the left face or the right face. Depending on which direction this edge needs to go, you have two algorithms to deal with this.

An edge that needs to go to the left uses the algorithm

U' L' U L U F U' F'

An edge that needs to go to the right uses the algorithm

U R U' R' U' F' U F

Step 9: T Shape

Picture of T Shape

Once you have drawn this shape with the upper edge piece, check the top color of the piece to see if it belongs to the left edge, or the right edge. If it belongs in the top edge, then it is useless at this time.

Step 10: 2nd Layer Solved

Picture of 2nd Layer Solved

Step 11: Final Layer: Drawing the Cross

Now you have two out of three layers done. We're moving on to the hardest layer. From here on out is nothing but algorithms.

First you need to check your top face. You will have 1 out of 4 shapes made from the top face color. Ignore the corners for now.

You will either have a single dot at the centerpiece, a small L shape made from two adjacent edge pieces, a single line through the center from opposing edge pieces, or a cross from all edges. If you have the cross, you can skip this step.

The shapes have a natural progression, all leading towards the cross using this algorithm.

F R U R' U' F'

If you perform this algorithm, a dot will turn into a small L, an L will turn into a line, and a line will turn into a cross. The only thing to remember is that the angle of which this algorithm is performed is important. The shapes MUST look like the following images when you perform the algorithm in order for this to work.

Step 12: Shape #1: Lone Centerpiece

Picture of Shape #1: Lone Centerpiece

You can use

F R U R' U' F'

In any orientation in this case

Step 13: Shape #2: L Shape

Picture of Shape #2: L Shape

You must have the L oriented backwards like this in order for

F R U R' U' F'

to work.

Step 14: Shape #3: Single Line

Picture of Shape #3: Single Line

You must have the line oriented horizontally like this in order for

F R U R' U' F'

to work.

Step 15: Shape #4: the Cross

Picture of Shape #4: the Cross

This is what you were looking for in the first place in this step, so if you have this shape, then you're done and can advance.

Step 16: Final Layer: Aligning the Cross

Now that you have a cross shape, we need to align the edges properly, so that they meet with the other centerpieces.

The first step is to turn the top face around until you find 1 of 3 states.

You will find that either two of the edges line up with two opposing center pieces, or that two adjacent edges line up with center pieces.

Or you will find that all 4 edges line up fine. If this is the case, skip this step.

If you have two opposing edges, then position the cube so that one edge is the front face, and the other is the back face, and perform this algorithm.

R U R' U R 2U R'

The edges will now be aligned adjacently like in the 2nd case.

When you have two adjacent edges, you position the cube so that one edge is the right face, and the other is the back face, and perform this algorithm

R U R' U R 2U R' U (Same as the above except with an extra U turn.)

Once you have done this, then all the edges are aligned. All that's left are the four final corners.

Step 17: Final Layer: Aligning the Corners

Around here on out you could have the cube magically solve itself during any of the following steps. But usually you will have to go all the way to the end.

The next step is to put all four final corners into their correct positions, but not necessarily flipped correctly.

You will have 1 of 3 states.

Either you will have all 4 corners in the correct spots, only 1 corner in the correct spot, or none of the corners in the correct spot.

If you have no corners in the correct spot, then perform this algorithm

U R U' L' U R' U' L

Check after you've completed it to see if any corners are in the right spot yet, if not, repeat until you see one in the correct spot

Once you have one corner in the correct spot, then position that one correct corner onto the bottom right spot of the Up face and then perform the same algorithm.

U R U' L' U R' U' L

Perform this and check after each repetition until all the corners are in the right spot. If you ever have 2 corners in the right spot, that means that you have all of them in the right spot.

Remember that they don't have to be flipped correctly to be in the right spot.

Step 18: Third Layer: Solving the Final Pieces

Now you're almost done. Every piece on the cube is in the right spot, all that's left is to orient the final pieces.

You only have incorrectly flipped corners, so we have an algorithm for that. One we already used.

R' D' R D

Same rules apply, make sure the piece you're working with is in the top right, and do it until it's correctly oriented.

Don't worry about how you're destroying all of your work.

IMPORTANT STEP

If you have more than one corner piece flipped incorrectly, than you will need to perform this algorithm on them all

BUT YOU CANNOT TURN THE CUBE TO DO THIS! YOU WILL ACTUALLY RUIN YOUR WORK!

Instead you have to turn the up face until the next piece is in the top right of the front and then perform the algorithm.

If you do this correctly, the cube will end up 1 or 2 turns away from being solved magically at the end.

Step 19: Solved

Picture of Solved

Congratulations! You have solved your first Rubik's Cube! Feel free to
use the final reference page to get a quick refresher on the algorithms as you get better at it.

Step 20: Algorithm Reference

Any Layer

Flip the top right corner piece

R' D' R D

2nd Layer

Place aligned edge to the left

U' L' U L U F U' F'

Place aligned edge to the right

U R U' R' U' F' U F

3rd Layer

Constructing the Cross

F R U R' U' F'

Aligning the Cross

R U R' U R 2U R' U

Shuffling the Corners

U R U' L' U R' U' L

Flipping the Final Corners

R' D' R D and rotate U in order to get to each

Comments

Swansong (author)2017-07-24

Great clear tutorial :) I've actually never tried to put one together before but it looks fun.

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