Puzzling people by Shane Hales

Puzzle Designer interviews

TheMetagrobologist consistently presents exclusive interviews articles and features every month. TheMetagrobologist is excited to present a feature article with Shane Hales, a master carpenter and joiner, puzzle designer, craftsman, locksmith and collector from England. Shane has so far produced an exclusive, limited run of ingenious sequential movement puzzles and puzzle locks including the Hale’s Lock #1, The Pentagon, The Parallelogram, The Circle and The Block. We hope you enjoy this interview.

Shane Hales discusses puzzles!

MGT: For those that don’t know, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do Shane?

SH: I’m a carpenter & joiner by trade, I’m a fellow of the Institute of carpenters, and was awarded the Master carpenter certificate in 2007, with only around 150/200 people in the country with this qualification. I am also a qualified locksmith (but by no means a master locksmith) and have had a passion for locks since I was a child. I now run my own construction company as a director. We build homes, refurbishment, and restoration of projects. From a very young age, I knew I wanted a job or trade that I could use my hands and get hands on. I love my work and picked the perfect career for me. I’ve always enjoyed dismantling things and discovering how things work, a reason for my fascination with locks. I guess it was only a matter of time before I discovered mechanical puzzles, (not soon enough) then dreaming up ideas of my own.

MGT: Can you recall how or why you became a puzzle designer and craftsman?

SH: After getting the ‘bug’ from collecting it wasn’t long before I was wondering if I could actually create something myself. With my knowledge of locks and my understanding of mechanical things, I was very interested in the concept of trying to create something.

Once mentioned to my fellow MPP’ers it wasn’t long before I was encouraged to get going. Especially by Mr Kevin Sadler. Without him, there would be no Halespuzzles. With my own small workshop at home, I was soon busy figuring out something. Then realised how much I had missed ‘working on the tools’ so this now becomes my get away from the sometimes stress of work and running a business (ironically) and I enjoy it very much.

MG: What would you say are your main influences when conceiving a piece of work?

SH: I have to say, Robert Yarger couldn’t have put it better. I have a little MacGyver in me, I look at day to day things all the time and wonder if I could conceive something from them? Most of my puzzles contain things that I come across all the time, I just think of a way to adapt them in some way. For instance, ‘The Pentagon’ contains a child lock from kitchen cupboards. As soon as I came across it, I knew I could fit that in some puzzle somewhere to fool you.

MG: How long have you been into puzzles and what got you into designing and making puzzles, specifically puzzle locks and your sequential discovery puzzles?

SH: I have been a collecting since about 2010. I started to look at designing things in late 2012, with my first design released early 2013. I wanted to make things I enjoy myself, although my first design ‘The Block’ contains a maze, and I am completely useless as solving maze puzzles!

I also believe inspiration from all the other designers helps! Shane Hales

It was well received by everyone and this encouragement only spurred me on. I really enjoy sequential discovery puzzles and of course, I love lock puzzles! So it made sense for me to try and build something that I enjoy solving, this gives me the incentive to try and make a good puzzle. My understanding of how locks work is an obvious choice for me to include within a puzzle.

MG: What comes first – the materials or your initial design idea?

SH: Again it’s the MacGyver in me. I see or get an idea of something and then I will sketch it up roughly in my little notebook. I have plenty in my little notebook that I carry around with me all the time. When it’s time to make a new design, I’ll have a look through my stock of material to see what I have. But this will not necessarily dictate what I make. If I need materials I will go out and pick up what I need, however, usually it’s a little of both. Using what I have and also buying something I need.

Read the rest of the interview in the pages of TheMetagrobologist Magazine Issue 4.


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