ABOUT KIM KLOBUCHER
Kim Klobucher is an elusive puzzle designer and manufacturer from Washington state, USA. He designs and sells a line of his own original puzzle boxes that are instantly recognisable. Exquisite hand-made, interlocking wood sequential movement puzzleboxes that require complicated moves to open. All of which are scarce and highly collectable.
TheMetagrobologist consistently presents exclusive interviews articles and features with the world’s most exciting puzzle designers, collectors and craftsmen. We do our best to ask questions to help you understand some of the interesting things that we already know about them. We also ask questions to discover more about them that we don’t know.
TheMetagrobologist is excited to present a feature taster article with Kim Klobucher. We hope you enjoy this taster as a prelude to our exclusive interview.
Washington State-based craftsman and puzzle box designer and maker Kim Klobucher has featured on many blogs and discussion at puzzle meet-ups over the years and it’s only now that we’ve got around to showcasing his skills. TheMetagrobologist is massively interested in his finished pieces, and also his background as a craftsman and the way in which he approaches his unique puzzle box making and design process.
Kim told us he was around eight years old, standing in his front yard and being inspired with the desire to go into his parent’s basement shop and make something out of the wood scraps that had been saved from when his house was constructed. As he stood in front of the wood scrap pile, a stack of 2x stud end pieces neatly stacked, he pondered. In his shop were assorted tools including a table saw that he recalled, was never used. Having absolutely no idea of what to make he thereafter went outside to play. Many years later he was again struck with this desire but with a greater capacity to actually figure out how to make something.
Kim has always liked puzzles from when he was a child and actually used to draw elaborate mazes. In general, he did a lot of drawing when he was a child, mazes being one particular phase that he went through. When a puzzle would come his way, he enjoyed trying to solve it but never really had an interest in buying puzzles.
A time came when he wanted to buy his nieces and nephews some nice wood puzzles, he went out searching for what he could find. He knew nothing of the puzzle market so just went to the nearest store he could find to try and purchase something. He quickly realised the general market was geared towards making puzzles quickly and for as little cost as possible. He had a keen desire to purchase wood puzzles that were made of nice wood and crafted with high quality and was perfectly willing to pay a higher price.
Kim thought maybe he could design something, buy the wood and make it myself. That is pretty much how he got started.
His first puzzles were simple and crude. He started by cutting little cubes and putting them together in different ways to make larger cubes, finding different alternatives to create an interlocking scheme. He took some examples to a store that sold puzzles and asked if they might be interested in selling them and was told if he could hide something inside, that would be a puzzle they would be interested in selling.
Since he had already started constructing interlocking puzzles out of cubes, he moved on to making puzzle boxes out of the same cubes, experimenting with different ways of putting them together and creating the movable parts. His first boxes, again, were simple and crude and for Kim were very difficult to figure out. As time went on, he gradually could increase the level of complexity because of what he had learned from the previous simpler puzzles.
A magical discovery for Kim came about when he realised the solution did not need to be described as 1,2,3… or A, B, C… but could be a meaningful phrase that would be easy to remember. Initially, he would design a puzzle and try to apply a phrase to the sequence. Another option became apparent when he realised he could start with a phrase and design the sequence based on the phrase. He developed a systematic method to lay out the pins, grooves and movable pieces using the desired phrase as a map.
This is, for Kim, an easier way to create a variety of maze types since he does not have to figure anything out in his head. Each phrase has its own unique sequential characteristics that he simply follows without the need to think out a sequence that works. Not any phrase can be translated into a puzzle but with this mapping process, it becomes clear as to whether it will work or not.
It’s always a pleasure to explore the thoughts of like-minded individuals, and Kim is a master craftsman who embeds all of the qualities we love to explore in TheMetagrobologist. We are delighted to share an exclusive interview with the incredible Kim Klobuchar, a man who creates some of the most beautiful and wondrous mechanical puzzle boxes and gamely answered all of our questions. A master craftsman himself, he explained how he develops his puzzles, his experiences as a craftsman and how he does it. He also spoke frankly about his puzzle making. To learn more about Kim Klobucher and to see more of his work, visit www.KCubeDesigns.com
Read the rest of the interview in the pages of TheMetagrobologist Magazine Issue 6.
Images © Kim Klobucher