Introduction: Tricky Stick Puzzle

About: I've been an artist all my life. Probably nothing I couldn't accomplish according to my grade school teachers who said "I would make a perfect student if I would just stop drawing all the time". I'm …

You may or may not have ever been exposed to this tricky little puzzler. My dad used to make these and taunt his friends or the unsuspecting individual. The concept is simple its meant to be a feat of skill and dexterity. The pointed end has a stick with a hook on the end that when inserted into the hole of the body should be able to hook on too a looped rubber band inside the hole by twisting and turn to get it to hook.

I'll explain the trick at towards the end of this intractable.

Step 1: Choose Your Wood and Materials Needed

Hard woods are the best for this but any wood will do. This is a perfect job to use left over scraps.

You'll also need a Rubber band (even a broken one will do).

A dowel rod (preferably one thats thick enough not to break) about .25" And at least 4" long to begin with.

The size of cut wood you'll need to start with is about .5" square and roughly 4" long.

Step 2: Drill Pilot Hole

A drill press and table vice is the best way to accomplish this step. But you can use a bench vise and hand drill (just harder to keep a straight bore). Using a drill bit one size bigger than .25" dowel rod (or essentially one size bigger than your actual dowel rod) drill a hole down through from the base 3/4s of the way (roughly 3.75" in). This will allow your dowel rod to slide into the hole without any resistance.

Step 3: Separate Head From the Body

With the hole drilled cut about 1" off the top (the opposite end from where you drilled). Place a piece of tape on one side so you'll know how they should line up after cutting. Once cut you should have the body with a hole all the way through it. And the head will have a hole about .5" deep.

Step 4: Glue Dowel Rod Into Head

Your dowel being 4" long when glued into the head will and should actually stick out the open end of the body. Use wood glue to get dowel in place. Just to the Head. Keep the body separate.

Step 5: Cut Dowel and Fashion Hook

Cut off .75" off the end of the dowel. Save the piece cut off you'll need later.

Now fashion your hook at the end of the dowel. Cut a notch up about 1/8" on any side of the dowel at a 45° angle (be sure not to go all the way through the rod).

The notch doesn't have to be all that wide (just big enough to hook rubber band) say 1/16" to 1/8" gap. Once your happy with the notch, on the very end sand down the tip of the dowel attached to the head into a rounded point.

Step 6: Place Rubber Band With Remaining Dowel Piece

Take your scrap rubber band and the leftover dowel and wedge it up into the bottom hole of the body. This can be tricky depending on how thick your rubber band is.

Be sure to leave strands of the rubber band sticking out on either side of the dowel.

DO NOT worry about leaving a loop on the end so much. A small dab of wood glue will help secure the dowel in place even though it may seem tight with rubber band.

Tap in with a hammer until you feel its secure enough not to pop out. Place the head with dowel into the other end (as if assembled) to make sure your head and body still join together properly and there is no gap.

Step 7: Sand Head End to a Rounded Point

This is important to help you sell the trick. I've found taping the head to the body with some tape to help hold in place while sanding. (another option is to sand down before separating head from body).

Sand down the head to where you have either a smooth rounded surface or taper the sides down to a rounded point. This will allow your fingers to perform the trick (figure out the trick yet?)

Step 8: Finishing Touches and How to Sell the Illusion

Assemble your tricky stick remove excess tape, Sand down the entire assembly. And now how to sell the illusion.

Explain to your victim that there is a rubber band looped inside the hole (which you obviously can't see). Show him the end where the rubber band ends are exposed. Now depending on what hand your are, hold the body in your left hand. And take the head in your right hand, Explain the object is to loop the rubber band inside with the hook (show hook on dowel rod attached to the head).

Demonstrate by inserting the rod and pretend to twist and wiggle the rod some as you try to make it work. Even pretend its hard than it looks helps sell it more. Now the big part of the illusion. Once you think you have it looped (not really) pull the head and rod out slightly and using your fingers (this is where the tapered head comes in to play) squeeze your fingers forcing the head and rod to appear to snap back into the body. Do it a couple of times to really sell it. Then with a slight twist pull it back out like you've freed it and hand it to them to try.

Now one tip I like to share is to help with the actual process of demonstration and selling the snap I've found that at one point leave the head in place (and rather than scratch your head) simply take your right hand with your thumb and forefinger rub your cheek allowing the oil from your face to help lubricate them. This in turn with give you a somewhat slippery grip to help preform the illusion. Over time oil will build up on it making easier and easier.

Step 9: Mass Production

As I said in the beginning my dad made these when I was growing up. I had lost the original one he made for me so I went about to make some and ended up making over 100 for my Wood Badge Course. I decorated each one by wood burring the course number on the side. I gave each participant and staff one as a gift in memory of my fathers sense of fun. I also customized each group by their critter colors with different colored rubber bands.

I hope you make one and have fun with your friends (who may become enemies once you show them that its a trick), hence the name "TRICKY" stick. Its even more fun when others are in on it and you pass it them them who know the secret and help sell the illusion even more.

Trash to Treasure

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest