Assembling the Matchbox Puzzle Box Pt. 1

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take on puzzle boxes. So, I found kits designed by Bruce Viney and bought a pre-cut one from Myer’s Crafts.

Since I have very little experience with puzzle bIMAG0044oxes, I figured assembling one might be a good way to learn how they are designed. As I’m moving from place to place right now, I also don’t have normal access to tools for wood cutting. This is another reason why this kit is a nifty way to learn about puzzle boxes. Not tools necessary! Well, almost…I didn’t realize how necessary sand paper would be.

To the left, you can see the puzzle box pieces after I dumped them on the table and the design instructions on my laptop.


What I like about the puzzle kits designed by Bruce Viney is how simple he makes them. These kits seem to be a low-barrier way for someone to enter the mechanical wooden puzzle world. On the right, you can see the wooden pieces layed out with the outlines that indicate how to glue them together.

IMAG0047I mentioned earlier how I didn’t realize how necessary sand paper would be. This is another reason I will have to wait until tomorrow to complete the box.

I tried attaching the sliding panels to no avail (not pictured here). They didn’t quite fit due to variance. Then, I decided with all of my wonderful wisdom to try to sand the pieces down with a plastic knife. Don’t try that one at home. You just end up being frustrated with the plastic knife….and yourself.

I’ve worked on the Matchbox for about an hour. I was able to glue the base together as well as the sliding panels. I am going to wait for the pieces to dry completely and continue to work on the puzzle box tomorrow.

[sorry about lack of photo quality]

Serving with a community center

For the past six months, I have been working with a local community center in San Antonio. What an experience! When I first reached out to the local area community leaders, I had really no idea what I was getting myself into….as with most endeavours of mine.

The community leaders were excited about the idea of having a mock competition for the community center kids since the registration deadline had already passed for First Lego League. We thought it would be a great way to get the kids’ hands dirty and feet wet with robotics.

So, I went on a quest for resources. Luckily, one of people who is also serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with FIRST, Clare, was interested in helping with the project. Without her, I would not have been able to see it through. I thought I could and quickly realized I was out of my mind to think I could single handedly start 12 robotics teams in the community center.

Once Clare was on board with the project, we were able to gather resources more effectively and efficiently as well as communicate with the different people and organizations involved. Together, we’ve been able to secure so many in-kind donations and volunteers.

The kids at the community center are ecstatic about the robotics teams we’ve built with them. Some kids had never heard of robotics, let alone though they could do it. With the help of some amazing volunteers from the University of Incarnate Word and local middle school students, the kids at the community center have built some top notch robots for their upcoming competition. They will be competing against themselves, as there are three solid teams that have formed from these efforts.

The mock competition will be happening on May 3rd at a local high school. It should be quite the event! I’ll post some photos and a wrap-up once it’s all over.