The Art of Puzzle Fort Construction

Members of the PuzzleNation community have been asking for more details on the puzzle fort I built in celebration of International Puzzle Day, so today I happily share my documentation of our celebratory puzzle fort’s construction, brief moments of glory, and demolition. Enjoy.

The initial spark for the fort came from when I stumbled upon this treasure trove of puzzle magazines at the Penny Dell Puzzles offices. They often donate puzzle books to hospitals, troops overseas, and to other worthy causes, and these books were the latest batch to be set aside for such service.

And when I saw these raw materials available, naturally my first thought was…I could build a fort out of these.

So, Friday morning, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I started with a simple brick wall layout for the base of the main wall, alternating magazine positions at the corners Lincoln Logs-style, both for aesthetics and to allow for details like the window feature you can see in progress here, providing much-needed ventilation and light.

Here are the primary support columns flanking the entrance to the fort. Since I was using the actual wall as part of the fort, there was no need for the alternating pattern of the other columns, so I originally went for a straight stack of puzzle books.

At this point, I’d run out of the thicker puzzle books and began working with thinner monthly puzzle titles, raising the columns to accommodate a person’s seated height.

You can also see a new patterning to the column on the left, thanks to some volumes of an old encyclopedia allowing for extra stability and support. The column on the right also shifts slightly as it rises, to compensate for the switch from alternating puzzle book placement to straight stacking.

Here are the completed flourishes beneath the window, allowing for air flow and a bit of visual style, breaking up the pattern of puzzle book spines and text.

I started in on the roof next with the aid of puzzler and friend of the blog Keith Yarbrough. (As you can see on the left side, I also redesigned the main columns to redistribute thicker magazines to the freestanding column for better support.) A few broken-down cardboard boxes made for a fine skeleton for the tiled roof, which you can see the first “shingles” of over to the left.

A close-up of our “shingles,” adding a bit of color and flair to the fort.

Our patchwork roof takes shape nicely here, anchored along the columns by more puzzle books, and providing both style and a touch of extravagance to the whole affair.

This picture offers a sense of how much coverage the roof actually provides, allowing for some suitable shadowing and privacy for fort dwellers (that the flash on my camera obscures in most pictures).

And here is your humble fortsmith, posing inside his creation. All in all, not a bad hour’s work.

It was a big hit around the office, with many fellow puzzlers coming by to admire its magnificence and get photos of themselves inside.

People also asked if I needed to acquire permits to build such a magnificent structure, but since it was built of natural materials sourced from the area itself, I believe it’s technically classified as an igloo, and therefore outside the strictures of building code formalities.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I was told the puzzle fort had to be gone before the end of the workday. Forts, much like snowmen, are not meant to last. We must simply appreciate them to the utmost while they are there.

So, with great reluctance, I began disassembling my beloved creation.

But then, disaster struck!

Yes, I was buried by an avalanche of puzzle delightfulness! In that moment, I knew what it felt like to be Corbin the puzzle bear on International Tabletop Day after that fateful round of Jenga.

I dug myself out and resumed demolishing the puzzle fort, endeavoring, as I always do, to leave the place a little better than I found it.

Mission accomplished. And a new International Puzzle Day tradition was born.

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