Introduction: Wood Dowel Puzzle

Picture of Wood Dowel Puzzle

There are eight dowel segments that you must fit into a box. You should be able to get seven pieces in with ease. What about the last piece?

This very simple project was built from scrap wood (minimal cost) and it took about an hour. I tested the puzzle on my two teenage children and both gave up after 5 minutes so I would say it’s slightly challenging.

I understand the originator of this logic puzzle was Tesa Timonen of Sweden in 2002. I reversed engineered this version from online pictures.

Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Saw (table, miter, band or hand)
  • Sander
  • Wood Clamps


  • Wood - 5.5” x 3” x .5” thick
  • Wood - 1.5” x 19” x .5” thick
  • Dowel – 1” diameter x 20” Long
  • Glue

Step 2: Drawing

Picture of Drawing

You will be building to the drawing. Yep, I just gave away the solution.

Step 3: Base

Picture of Base

Cut wood for the base as shown.

Step 4: Sides

Picture of Sides

Cut 2 long and 2 short sides as shown.

Step 5: Box

Picture of Box

Use glue to attach the sides to the base. Apply pressure with wood clamps. Remove excess glue and sand as necessary.

Step 6: Dowel Segments

Picture of Dowel Segments

Set your table, miter or band saw to a 30 degree angle. Cut 1” dowels to the lengths shown.

Step 7: Finished Build

Picture of Finished Build

Stain or paint as desired.

Step 8: Walnut Stain

Picture of Walnut Stain

Step 9: Try to Solve - First Attempt

Picture of Try to Solve - First Attempt

Step 10: Try to Solve - Second Attempt

Picture of Try to Solve - Second Attempt

Step 11: 5 Minutes Later...

Picture of 5 Minutes Later...

Well, actually my kids gave up and went to play on their phones. So, I'm taking this to work on Monday.

Step 12: Solution in Pictures

Picture of Solution in Pictures

If you plan to build this for someone, you might want to print solution instructions to go with the puzzle.

Hope you enjoyed the project!

Step 13: ​References:

Step 14: Advanced Version

Picture of Advanced Version

See HERE for advanced version.


DaveW188 made it! (author)2017-01-29

Here is my version. It was a fun project. Took me about 4 hours.

mtairymd (author)DaveW1882017-01-29

I like the color combo. How is solving going?

DaveW188 (author)mtairymd2017-01-29

My wife doesn't have a lot of patience. I had to give her some tips. We'll have to see how the nices and nephews do with it.

sssaksena made it! (author)2017-01-18

Wondering if this a possible solution?

mtairymd (author)sssaksena2017-01-18

Not on my version. I can't get the two end pieces to fit as you have shown. Check your dimensions.

sssaksena (author)mtairymd2017-01-18

yea i probably cut some pieces a little too short. thanks for the inspiration! love these puzzles.

mtairymd (author)sssaksena2017-01-29

Thanks. The good news is that the dowels are easy to re-make. I cut mine slightly long and sanded to fit.

PaulH341 made it! (author)2016-10-19

Made up my own measurements as I couldn't get 1" dowel in Europe - used 20mm so ended up going for a 4 wide configuration. Pallet wood box and finished with furniture wax. Hoping dad likes his birthday present, as he collects wooden puzzles and this is the first I've made him!

Thanks for a really great Instructable - simple to make with clear, precise instructions.

mtairymd (author)PaulH3412016-11-05

Nice job. I hope your dad likes it!

ggt1_02 made it! (author)2016-10-02

Thanks for the inspiration.

mtairymd (author)ggt1_022016-10-19

Nice job. How long did it take for your family/friends to solve it?

ggt1_02 (author)mtairymd2016-10-23

The adults gave up, my friends 7 year old took about 5 minutes.

alexeicharkham (author)2016-08-31

Made it (it's a hassle posting pictures, but I really did)! Thanks so much ;)

mtairymd (author)alexeicharkham2016-08-31

Has anyone been able to solve it yet?

alexeicharkham (author)mtairymd2016-09-01 wife hasn't given up yet though... ;)

AndreasO1 made it! (author)2016-04-30

My need some polish, but it is a great Instructable! Thank you :)

mtairymd (author)AndreasO12016-04-30

Thanks. Has anyone tried to solve it yet?

AndreasO1 (author)mtairymd2016-04-30

My Daughter 15 give up. My Wife give up too. I will check my fellows on monday, and today our kin.

mtairymd (author)AndreasO12016-04-30

Same here. I had a couple of people try the 92% solution where part of one piece was partially out of the box. The hint I give people once they are totally frustrated is - "think symmetry".

Marcosr39 (author)2016-04-24

Dude, that's so nice . I'll give it a try.

mlawing (author)2016-04-15

Well written!

mtairymd (author)mlawing2016-04-15

Thank you.

HollyMann (author)2016-04-10

This looks awesome..if I had the tools, I would make it! :)

mtairymd (author)HollyMann2016-04-10

Thank you.

M3G (author)2016-04-10

Awesome work, I'll have to give it a shot!

mtairymd (author)M3G2016-04-10

Thanks. It was a pretty easy project to make and has been somewhat challenging for the few people that have given it a try.

Diggerjack (author)2016-04-10

Hello mtairymd

Very cool brain teaser

Thanks for all the instructions

I will make one for me

Thanks for sharing

mtairymd (author)Diggerjack2016-04-10


Hammerguy84 (author)2016-04-09

This looks like a great brain teaser! Thanks for sharing!

mtairymd (author)Hammerguy84 2016-04-09

Thank you.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
More by mtairymd:Oliver String PuzzleBurr PuzzleBluebird Birdhouse Made From Pallets
Add instructable to: