Introduction: 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

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

Step 3: Base

Cut wood for the base as shown.

Step 4: Sides

Cut 2 long and 2 short sides as shown.

Step 5: 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

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

Step 7: Finished Build

Stain or paint as desired.

Step 8: Walnut Stain

Step 9: Try to Solve - First Attempt

Step 10: Try to Solve - Second Attempt

Step 11: 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

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

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 made it! (author)mtairymd2017-01-29

I like the color combo. How is solving going?

DaveW188 made it! (author)DaveW1882017-01-29

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 made it! (author)mtairymd2017-01-18

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

sssaksena made it! (author)sssaksena2017-01-18

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2017-01-29

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 made it! (author)mtairymd2016-11-05

Nice job. I hope your dad likes it!

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

Thanks for the inspiration.

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-10-19

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

ggt1_02 made it! (author)ggt1_022016-10-23

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

alexeicharkham made it! (author)2016-08-31

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-08-31

Has anyone been able to solve it yet?

alexeicharkham made it! (author)alexeicharkham2016-09-01 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 made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-30

Thanks. Has anyone tried to solve it yet?

AndreasO1 made it! (author)AndreasO12016-04-30

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-30

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 made it! (author)2016-04-24

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

mlawing made it! (author)2016-04-15

Well written!

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-15

Thank you.

HollyMann made it! (author)2016-04-10

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-10

Thank you.

M3G made it! (author)2016-04-10

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-10

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 made it! (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 made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-10


Hammerguy84 made it! (author)2016-04-09

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

mtairymd made it! (author)mtairymd2016-04-09

Thank you.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
More by mtairymd:Darth Vader Fidget SpinnerRaspberry SherbetDeer Repellent Bags
Add instructable to: