Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Success 2 - Its' Nuts!

In May I blogged how I built an enhanced copy of Oskar van Deventer's Cooksey Tribute D puzzle.  Oskar already owned a copy of Cooksey Tribute D, and so did I, so Oskar suggested I send the third as a gift to Jerry Slocum, a renowned puzzle enthusiast and author.

Coincidentally two other puzzle enthusiasts, John Rausch and Tyler Barrett, had recently persuaded me to build a small quantity of bolts with trick nuts like the ones in my Wrong Way Nut video so I chose to send one to Jerry.  That way Cooksey Tribute D would be a gift from Oskar, and Wrong Way Nut could be a gift from me.

For reference, here's the Wrong Way Nut video:

Jerry telephoned me immediately after he'd received the puzzles and asked if I could possibly build 120 copies of the bolt and nuts for the Puzzle Party.  I was thrilled!

We agreed the puzzle needed a name because I had originally adopted "wrong way nut" as a descriptive phrase, not an actual title.  Jerry researched to ensure we wouldn't infringe any trademarks.  I liked his suggestion Its' Nuts because it used an apostrophe in a nonstandard way, which was a subtle puzzle in itself.  Had it been intended as the contraction It's Nuts or a possessive term Its Nuts?

Each nut is embossed with "Its'" on one side and "Nuts" inverted on its opposite side so the puzzle's title appears when the nuts are correctly threaded onto the bolt.  Can you work out the probability of correctly assembling the bolt and its nuts so they say Its' Nuts?  (It's not just 1 in 2, as you might guess.)

It's customary for entries in the Edward Hordern IPP Puzzle Exchange to carry the name of the person exchanging them and the date of the IPP event when they were exchanged.  The bolts I built for Jerry are custom-embossed with IPP32 and the year 2012 on one face, and From Jerry Slocum on an opposite face.

With Jerry's approval, I added my own name to the top of the bolt head to identify myself as the creator.  Pay attention to how thin those letters really are, forming narrow strokes less than 1mm thick.

I deliberately made those hollow areas are narrower than 1mm so they wouldn't be sufficiently wide for the SD300 to apply anti-glue inside those narrow channels.  Consequently the letters are glued into the solid bolt head when the SD300 builds them, forming subtle outlines that can only be read by carefully examining the sheen of the top surface.

Screw threads need a slick finish, but the SD300 ordinarily builds layers with sharply-defined edges so I dipped every single nut and bolt in Weld-On 2007.

The solvent smooths and seals the layers, but after a few uses the solvent also tends to fog up the glossy top surface--an undesirable side effect.  To avoid fogging I learned how to dip the bolt only up to the sides of the hex-shaped head, but that left the side walls of the bolt head with a half-glossy/half-matte appearance.  The solution?  I wiped the side walls with ordinary PVC Pipe Primer from my local plumbing supply--it contains just enough solvents to impart a uniformly glossy appearance, and it includes a neat applicator.

This was a big project.  It took over a week to build all those bolts, and almost two weeks more to build all the nuts.  The nuts were more trouble than the bolts because I had to manually clear 72 layers of leftover support material from the center of each nut, tearing out the layers with a pointed probe as illustrated in this previous blog post.  It went at least twice as fast if I heated the model in my microwave oven for 30 seconds, a tip I learned from Jason Harris.

After the various pieces had been built, I assembled them into completed Its' Nuts sets.

I vacuum packed the bolt sets in groups for convenient shipping to Jerry.

For their final presentation Jerry repackaged Its' Nuts into individual prescription-drug containers, playfully labeled Slocum Pharmacy.  It included a caution, "Be sure to take with 1 grain of salt."

Jerry Slocum increased his order to 135 sets of Its' Nuts and I managed to build all 135 of them without any rejects or second-quality parts.  I sent him every single bolt I had built with the custom "From Jerry Slocum" inscription, and I forgot to keep one for myself!  I'm happy to build more bolts, but I wouldn't allow myself to build any more of Jerry's bolts--I regard them as a work-for-hire.

So I negotiated a puzzle-swap: he traded me one of the customized IPP bolts and in exchange I gave him this one-of-a-kind bolt that was professionally built via SLA, polished, and lacquered by a professional bureau.  To commemorate the occasion, I paired it with the very first nuts that had ever been inscribed with Its' Nuts.

Jerry Slocum won me over to the name Its' Nuts because the odd placement of the apostrophe struck me as a clever piece of word-play.  He later confessed that it originated as a typo.


  1. Fabulous! Such a tremendous feat of work and expertise! It looks great! Would any be available for a minor puzzle blogger? Even without the jerry inscription!


  2. Whoa! That SLA version looks gorgeous. How much did that cost?

  3. Kevin, yes I'm still making non-Jerry-versions of the bolt. My contact info is in my Blogger profile.

    George, without putting a dollar-figure on it, building one batch of 20-bolts (without nuts) in the SD300 costs almost as much as the SLA bolt...but not quite as much!

  4. Do you sell these? I would buy a couple.

  5. I don't have any in stock right now, but you can buy it at Grand Illusions
    Grand Illusions - Its' Nuts

  6. Thanks for the info. But apparently they are out of stock also.