The 6-Piece Burr is one of the oldest and best-known burr shapes. I
have been interested in 6-piece burrs since I saw my first one in
a drugstore window when I was about 12 years old. At first I
attempted to determine all the ways one could construct a 6-piece burr
using standard 'notchable' pieces, but the job was too large. Many
years later, I solved this task using a computer. I was particularly
interested in burr puzzles which required many moves to take out the
first piece. In the early 1980's I wrote my first program to take
apart interlocking puzzles made from cubes, and this led to the 3 year
analysis of all 35.5 billion 6-piece burrs. Many of the 6-piece burrs
that we sell are the results of this analysis. Others were designed
by humans, with or without the help of computer programs. And still
others use unusual pieces or were overlooked by the computer program.
We particularly like:
Bill's Baffling Burr -
this computer-assisted design appeared in Scientific American.
Love's Dozen -
discovered by Bruce Love, this has the highest level possible (12).
Computer's Choice Unique-10 -
The best of the computer-discovered 6-piece burrs.
Programmer's Nightmare -
the computer couldn't see that this was a good design!
Most of these designs require several moves before the first piece can
be removed. Like the 6-Piece Burr, these puzzles have interlocking
square rods meeting at right angles, but they have many more pieces.
The 6-piece burr has too few pieces, I thought, to hide any ingenious
movements required to make a burr difficult to take apart, so my early
designs had lots of pieces. We particularly like:
Wausau'83 - not too many pieces,
but challenging to take apart.
Lovely - an invention of Bruce Love,
it takes 18 moves to remove the first piece.
S/M 24 - a computer-assisted design, this features
notchable pieces in a standard shape with no internal holes, but still
takes a number of moves to get it started.
These puzzles have unusual geometrical shapes. They are composed of
interlocking rods, but the rods are not square or do not meet at right
angles. Most of these designs are easy to take apart. We
particularly like the
Hybrid, but very few of these have been made for
The challenge is to fit a number of 3-dimensional pieces into a box.
Many of the box-filling puzzles sold by Bill Cutler Puzzles,
Inc. feature pieces which are all rectangular solids. You might think
this would make them easier then packing with, say Pentominoes, but
you might be surprised. Our favorite:
The Boxed Box - 23 pieces in
which every dimension is different, and they fit into the box without
leaving any holes.
These programs were written to be used as tools for designing,
solving, or analyzing puzzles. One of the programs can be used to
solve a variety of 2-d and 3-d packing puzzles. The other program can
be used to solve interlocking puzzles which are based on a cubic grid.