Step 1: Tools and Materials:
- You will need a stick, wide enough to drill conveniently. I used an actual stick, but you could use a short length of thick dowel or broom handle.
- You will also need a length of dowelling that is conveniently narrower than the stick. I used 3mm bamboo.
- A vital part of this puzzle is a narrow rubber band. The length isn't important.
- Drill (I got a new stand, which makes things a lot easier!), and a drill-bit slightly larger than the dowel. With the 3mm dowel I used a 5mm twist-bit.
- Glue - I used PVA, but you could use hot-glue if you're the impatient type.
- Sharp knife (ah, good old multi-tool).
- Wood-shaping stuff - rasp, file, sandpaper.
- A vice is useful, but not vital.
Step 2: The Stick.
The stick I used is one that has been sitting drying for some time.
It is about 2cm thick (nearly an inch), and about 8cm long (about 31/2 inches).
The ends are cut off square and sanded lightly.
Drill a hole through the centre of the stick, all the way through.
You may need to turn your stick around to get all the way through - be careful to line up the holes at each end.
Step 3: The Top of the Stick.
With the saw or knife, mark a line around the stick, about 1.5cm from the end.
Then, with the wood-shaping tools, cut, rasp, file and sand the end of the stick into a nice smooth dome-shape. You will find it a lot easier to brace the stick in a vice to file and sand it.
Do not go past the line you just marked.
When you have a nice smooth dome, decapitate the stick - cut the domed end off at the line.
Step 4: The Hook.
Cut a length of the dowel or bamboo about 2cm shorter than the whole stick (so, for me, about 6cm long) and cut a shallow hook at the end (the best hook is to cut half-way through the bamboo and then shave a wedge out about it.
Round off the end of the hook with sandpaper, and then glue it into the domed top of the puzzle.
You may need to wedge the bamboo in place with more slivers of bamboo to keep it central as you glue it.
Set the top-and-hook aside to dry.
Step 5: Confession Time.
It's a trick.
The people you trick think that you are hooking a loop of rubber band down in the bottom of the stick.
What is really happening is that, when you show your victim what to do, you pretend to hook the band.
When you pull at the top of the puzzle, you could add a slight tremor to your fingers, as if you are fighting elastic, but what you really do is squeeze the top hard between your finger and thumb so that it pops out from your finger and thumb and smacks back into the rest of the stick.
Use another short piece of bamboo to wedge a short length of rubber band in the base of the stick. As with the top, wedge and glue it in place, but make sure that there are two short pieces of rubber band sticking out to back up your claim that there is a loop inside the "puzzle".
Step 6: The Hustle
The best way to suck in a victim is to play with the puzzle yourself. The more you play with it, the more convincing you will get, and the smoother the top of the puzzle will get, and thus the easier it will get to ping it back with a good sharp crack.
Eventually, somebody will ask you what you're playing with. Be casual. Tell them it's a dexterity test, all you have to do is hook the band and then pull it, see? (Show them the hook, poke around inside the puzzle for a moment and then pull-ping-crack.)
When they can't do it straight away, be relaxed about it. Don't smirk or giggle, just tell them it's fine, takes a little practice, try again another day.
Then leave it lying around where they will see it, say on your desk when your at the copier, or beside the phone if you share an apartment. I guarantee you will catch them muttering and swearing about the puzzle.
Eventually, of course, you will have to let your victims in on the gag, but then things get funnier, because you swear them to secrecy - they mustn't tell anybody how it's done.
Then when there are a group of you out for a coffee or a beer, or sitting around waiting for the game to start, bring out the puzzle and play with it. Pass it to a friend who knows the gag, let them play with it. Eventually, the one person in the room who does not know the gag will have a go ...
Eleven days after posting this, nobody who was not already in the know has been able to see through the confuzzle. My boys are convinced I made it specifically so that they couldn't do it.