Melting Block 4
Bill Cutler and John Rausch
|MATERIAL:||Walnut, Aluminum, Brass
|SIZE:||3.6" x 3.1" x 2.2"
Melting Block 4 is Cutler and Rausch's evolution of Tom Obeirne's original Melting Block puzzle. The result is a tour-de-force of mathematical theory applied to the real world of puzzles.
Melting Block 4 has two unique solutions. The first solution uses 11 polished aluminum pieces to fill the box entirely. Or so it seems... There remains a second, utterly different solution by adding the final brass piece, which seems to magically "melt" into the box despite an apparent lack of space.
How is this possible? Cutler and Rausch achieved this magical feat through exhaustive analysis, resulting in 76 doubly-unique solutions using as few as 11 pieces and as many as 14. The duo chose a 12-piece assembly from these possibilities as the best balance of difficulty and aesthetics.
The math is based on the physical dimensions of a single brick. Sixty-three of these bricks stacked in a 3x3x7 array result in a rectangular solid of size 259x195x147. Sixty-four of these bricks stacked in a 4x4x4 array result in a rectangular solid of size 260x196x148. The single unit difference, when rearranged, is what creates the space to add the final brick to the twelve-piece solution!
Crafting Melting Block 4 requires extreme precision to prevent unwanted false solutions. Each CNC-machined and hand-finished block is accurate to 0.002 inches. The wood box is precisely crafted to a perfect fit. The result is excellent, weighing in at a hefty 1.75lbs. The bright, clean character of the pieces contrasts nicely with the dark warmth of the wood.
Melting Block 4 ships in an unsolved configuration.
Our work is handcrafted to very precise tolerances and must be kept within the range of 40-60% relative humidity at all times. Failure to do so may cause inoperability or permanent damage.
Please read the Caring for Wood Puzzles guide to ensure proper fit and operation. We recommend an occasional polishing with Renaissance Wax to keep wood puzzles in top condition.
Handling Metal Puzzles
There is something to be said from the simplicity of an unhindered packing puzzle. Should be dead simple right? Put the pieces in the box. Well, melting block 4 is a beast. Great craftsmanship and great playtime value.
I ordered Melting Block 4 three months ago, and it has been laying on my desk ever since. I tried it at least every week for about 30 minutes, and it was only until a few days ago that I discovered the 11 piece solution, and then yesterday the 12 piece solution.
It is a perfect fit in the box with very little free play. Very beautiful, and amazingly heavy for such a small box. Very nice to fiddle with the pieces, even now that I know the solutions. One of my favorite puzzles, and I cherish it as an in memoriam of Eric Fuller.
This puzzle is a great value, the aluminum blocks are precise and nice finish. I machined these out of wood for Bill Cutler a while back and know how time consuming it is with all the different dimensions. Nice to have a copy in aluminum.