Updated: Apr 7, 2020
We shared this vintage brain teaser with our Facebook friends and Twitter followers this morning, asking if anyone knew how you might separate the two pieces of the wooden puzzle without irreversibly damaging either.
Before we reveal the answer, some background information about this wonderful artifact seems in order. Rod Headrick, an LCHS Board member, friend of the organization, and long-time Latah County resident, donated the puzzle to our collection. It was crafted by his father, Frank Headrick, who farmed in the area for many years. Frank fashioned this tricky item out of local white pine, Idaho’s state tree, and employed it to win a number of bets and free drinks. The puzzle reflects the rich heritage of the region in several ways, including as an artifact of Latah County craftsmanship as well as a symbol of the good-natured humor possessed by many farmers. We’re so pleased that Rod has entrusted us with this delightful piece of family memorabilia.
Now, to reveal the secret of the puzzle! By now you might have guessed how Frank was able to win his bets, particularly if you know anything about white pine. White pine lumber is remarkably soft and easily manipulated. As Frank explained to Rod, he could place the knobby end of the interior puzzle piece into a vice and compress it with minimal effort. Once the end was narrowed, it could be slipped out of the second piece. Having solved the puzzle and won his bet, Frank could put the pieces back together, soak the object overnight, and perform the bit all over again. According to Rod, Frank only ever carved the example now in our collection, suggesting that while white pine may be soft, it is certainly durable material.