WoodCentral's Book Reviews
New Wood Puzzles

New Wood Puzzles
by James W. Follette

Linden Publishing: 2001
Paperback, 96 pp., $21.95
ISBN 0-941936-57-0

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     WoodCentral regular 'Doc Jim' Follette has long been known for his innovative wood puzzle designs. His book is a collection of attractive ring puzzles, ball mazes, dovetailed hexagons, cube puzzles, pentominoes, and magnetic locking puzzles.
     Of as much interest as his puzzles are his woodworking jigs used in their production. To mimic a woodthread screw, he lays a 3-in. cylinder atop a fixed cradle with an indexing guide, rotating the cylinder against a tablesaw blade raised 1/8" above the table. He creates a semi-circular keyhole slot on the flat face of a thick disk by using a dowel alignment pin on a router table sled. And his six-jointed, articulated wooden arm for a task light on his drill press, looks amazingly versatile. There is even a shop-made vertical lathe setup for the drill press, so he can shape puzzle pieces holding a gouge against a vertical dowel as a tool rest.
    All of the puzzles are presented with step-by-step solutions, and the innards of locking mechanisms are illustrated with clear color diagrams. Follette, an anesthesiologist by profession, even includes an X-ray of his vexing padlock puzzle to illustrate its internal workings.
    Dr. Follette discusses wood movement, sanding and finishes--good general information that makes this much more than a project book. A lengthy appendix is devoted to workshop injuries of all types, how to recognize the severity of an injury, and what to do about them, whether serious or minor. That appendix alone is invaluable information for any woodworker.
     At the beginning of the book are the author's workshop rules. Here are a few of them: "Every new project is an excuse for a new tool." "Measure three times and cut once, or measure twice and hammer to fit." "Ten fingers at the start of the project, ten fingers at the end." These projects demand precise stock preparation and close fits in joinery, but they look extremely fun to do.
    If you've never attempted a wood puzzle, maybe it's time to try one. This is the book.

. . . Barb Siddiqui