Wood Dowel Puzzle – Advanced Version




About: I like to design and build random things.

Last week I posted a dowel puzzle that contained 8 segments. To my surprise, it turned out to very challenging for my coworkers because there was only a 25% completion/success rate. The typical time before someone asked for a hammer to make the pieces fit was about 5 minutes.

This week, I’ve upped the challenge with a larger, 16 segment version. As you will see, symmetry doesn’t help out this time.

Step 1: ​Tools/Materials


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


  • Wood - 6.5” x 4” x .5” thick
  • Wood - 1.5” x 24" x .5” thick
  • Dowel – 1” diameter x 48” Long
  • Glue

Step 2: Build

You will build your puzzle to this drawing.

Step 3: Box

You will build the box to this drawing.

Step 4: Base

Cut 1/2" thick wood to 4" x 6.5". Since the dowels are 1" in diameter, you might want to add a small amount to the 4" dimension.

Step 5: Sides

Cut the sides as shown. If you grew the base, grow the 4" dimension on the side as well.

Step 6: Assemble Base

Use glue to attach the sides to the base. Use wood clamps to apply pressure. I filled in a few small gaps with glue & saw dust at this point.

Step 7: Segments

The first 8 segments are cut with a 60 degree angle. Make two for each piece that has a (x2) note. I used a combination of a miter saw and band saw. For safety reasons, I used the band saw for the smaller pieces.

Step 8: Segments

The straight pieces are simple to cut. The green piece with angles on both sides took a little time since you will need to make the cuts parallel. Take your time and this shouldn't be an issue.

Step 9: Ready to Put Together

Step 10: Fit Issues

OK, it's hard to cut all of these pieces to the exact size. Use a sander to fine tune the fit.

Step 11: Everything Fits!

Step 12: Stain or Paint

I didn't have that many colors so I took the easy route and stained the puzzle with a cabernet colored stain from Varathane.

Step 13: Solution

Place the segments in the box as shown.

Step 14: Solution Steps

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 15: Smaller Version

Click Here for smaller version.



    • Build a Tool Contest

      Build a Tool Contest
    • Pocket Sized Contest

      Pocket Sized Contest
    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest

    4 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    How did you get the length cuts so precise? I mean I get a half inch but you are talking a hundredh of an inch. Like 2.576.

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    That's just how the math turned out...dimensions from CAD. You don't need to be that precise but it looks nicer the closer you get. I've started using calipers on some of my other puzzles that require tight fits. For fine tuning, I run the piece across a sanding block.