The final piece

A few years after I first posted the design of Meijer's Box on this website, two puzzle makers produced, independent from each other, a small series for sale. One was Eric Fuller; the other Bernhard Schweitzer.

From both makers I received a beautifully crafted copy of the puzzle, and it just so happened that one of these ended up with my mother. Although she was not a great puzzle fan, she was also not going to be outsmarted by a few bits of wood! When I visited her some time later, the box was sitting on the coffee table, completely assembled. Except that, very much to my surprise, she had found an alternative solution to get all pieces locked in place inside the box.

Until then I had assumed that there was only one possible solution to the puzzle, so there was some humble pie to be eaten that day. Upon closer inspection it turned out that my mother had been thinking out of the box (literally) and found a solution where the final locking part was inserted through the hole in the front of the box, from the outside. That was a lesson learned... no matter how much you think about a product you design, people will always find alternative ways to use it. A very valuable lesson for an engineer, as I have found out in life.

Part A

What to do? Leave the puzzle as it was, with its unwanted (at least by me) second solution, or modify the design? I decided for the latter. It took only a minor modification to one of the puzzle parts to make the alternative solution an impossibility, and that version is now what you find on this website. The image shows the modified puzzle part; an extra piece of wood, drawn in an orange colour, has been added to part A.

So, now I have only a single fear... that some day I will find an email in my inbox from someone who has found yet another solution. Sadly, my mother has passed away, so she will not be the one to prove me wrong this time. But there must be other clever people out there... what bit of lateral thinking have I missed this time?