A friend of mine used to keep a supply of 'Engineer Catnip' at his desk to keep the geeks like me occupied when we stopped by. As a longtime fan of tavern puzzles and the like, I took it upon myself to solve them all.
After a while of looking for new challenges, I stumbled upon the Revomaze and my world was forever changed. "What is the Revomaze?" you ask with excitement...
It is a fiendish device made in the UK which consists of a spring-loaded pin in a colored sleeve which follows a maze etched on a brass shaft in the middle. You're job is to manipulate the pin through the maze and release the center. The trick is, you can't see the mazes... And they move... And change with orientation... And can take hundreds of hours to solve. No really, the easiest ones can take a weekend and the harder ones have had me stumped for years.
Now, doesn't that sound like fun? I thought so and somehow I ended up with several. The remaining problem was how to store/display them all. My Pelican case didn't do them justice and they tended to roll around when left out on my bookshelf.
Instead of a rack, I thought a tower would be interesting since I could use the drill press to cut slots for each puzzle. If you're up for the challenge, we'll get started.
There isn't a huge list of tools for this one.
Bandsaw or Table Saw with taper cutting jig
Drill Press + 2", 1 5/8", & 1" Bits
Router Table + Architecture Bits
Biscuit Joiner or Equivalent
Final photographs courtesy of my wife @ Pixl-Photography
-Final Revomaze Tower (Sorry, I'm not resetting the Silver for a picture)
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Step 1: The Blocks
Since Revomazes are rather solid and heavy, I wanted the tower to match so I used some 2" thick walnut to build a solid structure. With a board about 6" wide, you'll have enough space to store the mazes.
Start by cutting a base at 5.75 x 11.5" and use the router table and a molding bit to dress up the edges. Mine had some splits, so I had to use a couple layers of filler to fix it up.
Similarly, use another piece for the vertical section. You'll need about 2.25" of height per maze you want to store; I wanted to go six high so I made it about 14.5" long.
Mark a gentle taper down the center. I measured in 2" from each side and drew a line to connect them. By cutting this line on the bandsaw and reversing the two pieces, you'll end up with a tapering tower. Mine ended up being about 3 degrees of a slant which later I found was enough to safely mount the mazes.
Clamp the two pieces side-by-side and use a plane or sander to clean up the tapered sides. The goal is to have two mirrored blocks when you're done.
Once there are two blocks for the tower, use biscuits, dominoes or something similar to glue the two sides together. After it's dry, sand or plane it front and back so you are left with flat surfaces.
-Taper marked on tower
-Tower glued up
-Base routed and filled
Step 2: Puzzle Slots
The most important part of the operation will be drilling the holes to fit the mazes themselves. I wanted to offset each maze so you could see them through the front of the tower.
Begin with the tower blank and mark off lines ever 2.25" from top to bottom. With a 2" forstner bit, mark your location from the front, depending on the thickness of the block and the amount of metal you want to have exposed. Tilt the drill press table enough to allow you to drill at 90 degrees from the surface, attach a fence to match your marked holes and bore each one to fit the puzzle. Continue with the 1 5/8" and 1" bits.
Once complete, check for fit and adjust as needed. Sand the interior with a drum or flap sander so you don't scratch your puzzles.
2" bit goes 1" deep
1 5/8" bit goes 3/8" deep
1" bit goes 1/2" deep
-Marking up the tower
-First pass of 2" holes
-Adding 1 5/8" holes
-Adding 1" holes
Step 3: Adjustments
So my blank was a little thin and the 1 5/8" bit hit the front of the tower. I wasn't sold on the look so I added two lines of contrasting wood to hide my mistake (that's half of woodworking right there :) ).
To do this, match the taper of the tower on another board (I used wenge and flared it from 5/8" to 1.5" across 14.5" in length). Cut it, plane the result and resaw it into two strips. Use a trim router to carve out the sides and top so you don't run into the top molding later. Put them aside for the moment and we'll cut them to fit after the top is done.
-Cutting and planing the wenge stripes
-Gluing up stripes
Step 4: Custom Crown Molding
Here's where you can get creative. If you have access to a router table and some molding bits, use a 1" board to cut a piece of molding to match. My profile was a colonial crown molding bit from Infinity Tools; it's a little more unique than a standard crown bit and I think it fit the look.
Go slow and take multiple passes, finishing up with some sanding at the end. Cut it away from the rest of the board and add a 1/8" notch to the bottom so it fits onto the top of the tower.
If you don't have access to a molding bit, use the tablesaw and cut a board on an angle and use the chamfered edge to build the profile.
Move to the miter saw and cut the sides and front to fit. When satisfied, glue and nail each piece into place. Mine ended up flaring to 4x8".
Once everything is dry, mount the contrasting stripes to the front of the tower and trim the overhang off the bottom.
-At the miter saw
Step 5: Assembly and Finishing
After the tower is dry, use your favorite joining technique to mount the tower to the base. I centered mine and moved it towards the back so I'd have the space to add a cradle to the front later if I run out of room.
Stain the assembly to match your decor but not so dark as to lose the contrast from the stripes. Finish with a spray varnish to hit each of the puzzle holes.
-Stripes glued in place
-Tower glued to base