The Finnish Cross
I originally blogged about this puzzle a couple of years ago, shortly after I got my first copy of it, six years in the making. A few days after that, I got email from my friend George Miller, telling me that he'd laser-cut his own copy and liked it a lot. He showed that copy to long-time IPP attendee Stan Isaacs, who asked me for permission to use it in the IPP 26 Exchange, in Boston. At the time, I had a different puzzle in mind for my own exchange gift, so I agreed. Unfortunately, that other idea fell through (sometimes that happens with puzzle designs), so I ended up not exchanging that year. Instead, I was Stan's exchange assistant, which was fun in its own way.
The version that Stan exchanged was somewhat different from my original copy: he and George reshaped the pieces from rectangles to half circles, making the completed puzzle into a sphere instead of a cube; they called it the "Fan-Way Park Ball", following the Bostonian theme. They also used laser-cut maple instead of plastic and reduced the size to about 1-5/8 inches. It was cute in its own way, and I was happy to see the puzzle exchanged, but I still preferred the clear Lucite look of my original version; it looks a bit more stylish sitting on your desk.
I'm now happy to announce that I can offer copies of my version for sale here. The puzzle is shipped disassembled, flat, and putting it together provides a very satisfying but accessible solving experience.
[Update 8/27/2011: I've renamed this puzzle from "Six Tabbed Planks" to the more euphonious "Finnish Cross", in honor of its original designer, Matti Linkola. It's still the same great puzzle, just with a spiffy new name!]
[Update 4/9/2012: I now have The Finnish Cross available in three jewel-tone colors, in addition to the original crystal clear. Check it out!]