"Pencil" Puzzler

by FollowMeOn, published

"Pencil" Puzzler by FollowMeOn Sep 14, 2015

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Many thanks Thingiverse for featuring this thing! Also, thanks for the "Alliance Of Magicians" heads up! :)

An old pencil magic trick, designed to appear to chop a solid pencil into 3 pieces, then magically restore the pieces back together.

Video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgqfPC3dVBA.

I built my first version of this thing out of bass wood and "laddie" pencils in my high school days. Plastic versions of the illusion are available in magic stores and on the web, but I decided to design and print my own.

All pieces are printed, even the "pencil" pieces.


At the request of many, I've uploaded "Assembly.stl".


Study "Assembly.skp" or "Assembly.stl".

Print and assemble all pieces as shown in "Assembly.skp" or "Assembly.stl".

Test fit and trim, file, sand, etc. all parts as necessary for smooth movement of moving surfaces, and tight fit for non moving surfaces. Depending on the colors you chose and your printer settings, more or less trimming, filing and/or sanding will be required.

Assemble as shown in "Assembly.skp" or "Assembly.stl".

I used an indelible ink marker to add the pencil lead effect to the ends of all pencil pieces.

Comment if you have questions.

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It all depends on how fast you push the pencil up...! Great design! I must print one to play with! :D

Yes it does indeed, and thank you very much, I'm glad you like it!

I've published an updated version here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Pencil-Puzzler-Revisited/ as I no longer publish on Thingiverse.

Thanks again!

Thanks for the cool design! I printed the ones from Instructables but I couldn't see the difference here and there! I must be blind, or the changes were very subtle!

Thanks again, and glad you liked it. The Instructables version is slightly improved and designed using Fusion360 as opposed to Sketchup. You're not blind, and yes, the changes were very subtle.

I've tried to print the pencil (the full/long one) twice now and the top gets all deformed at the same spot. The short piece with the pointed tip prints out just fine. I have room (not a ton, but enough) of room/height on my printer. Not sure what to do. For the second print, I deleted the smaller pieces and just printed the long pencil with the same strangely deformed tip....about the top inch or so. It's hard to explain, but it's like it shrinks down the diameter for the last inch, moves it to one side and it is barely hanging on. Can anyone help?

Can you turn the long pencil on its side and print it on a raft and/or with support material?

I believe the tip was tapered at or near 45 degrees, so it may print without support, but you'll probably want to use a raft.

I will likely have the same issue, but for different reasons. However, I think I see the issue. About 1 inch from the top, a horizontal layer was created...it is hollow up until that point. Because it is hollow and then tries to lay a horizontal layer, it can't because there is no supporting material before that. It's almost like the top inch is actually the short piece with the tapered top...just placed on top of the longer pencil. If that one layer could be removed, it should work just fine. That one layer is not necessary and probably wasn't put there on purpose, but rather it just copied over when the top of the longer pencil needed to be finished. Can anyone remove that one layer?

See if the pencil pieces on this newer version work for you: https://www.instructables.com/id/Pencil-Puzzler-Revisited/.

Sorry for the problems.

Try printing out 2 or 3 of them at once. This will allow the heated nozzle to move away from the tips of the prints to allow the plastic sufficient time to cool for the next layer..otherwise you end up with the deformity you mentioned...the plastic simply doesn't have time to cool and solidify before the next layer is placed...

Comments deleted.

i figured it out once i looked at pencil stl well designed too

Incredible! Probably my favourite print so far. A hit with grown ups and kids alike. More magic props please ;)

Thank you very much, glad you like it!

Any hints as to what you would like to see?

Awesome. Thank you for this one. An absolute hit with my 7 and 10 year old.

Thank you so very much for your kind words!

The "kid" in my 60 year old frame is always happy to hear other "youngsters" are happy!

Very helpful, thank you. John UK

Hi could not open assembly.skp on my pc, used the isometric assembly diagram. Put together and printed really easy. Fantastic design well done.
John UK

Thanks, glad you liked it and sorry for the difficulties.

I've since uploaded "Assembly.stl" for those who can view .stl files instead of .skp files.

Thanks again!

What Software do you used to design ind 3d ?

I used Sketchup 2015, the free version.

how do you do to export in stl with sketchup 2015 free version?

I use a free Sketchup STL exporter, there are a number of them.

Thanks a lot for this information :)
I've got print your thing and i've got a problem, it's too brittle.
So, I print a second time your thing bigger (scale: 130%).

Lol I figured this out, but it will be fun to make and trick my friends with it XD

Hope you get the chance to build one, I've stumped quite a few with it over the years.

lol i watched the vid 5 times on the 5th time it clicked in my minde how it works lol good job mate :) i so got to print this out

Thank you for your kind words!

You'll figure it out!

final someone makes something good that doesn't require additional parts, great job!

Thanks, glad you like it!

I have printed all the parts and now need instructions ... pls . help Parts look excellent ..

The assembly procedure is in the file "Assembly.skp". You'll need to download "Sketchup 2015", it's free. If you can't, let me know and I'll post an "Assembly.stl".

not sure what I am doing wrong but i just get a message saying " adobe reader could not open .... " I have downloaded Sketchup pro 2015 , then I tried sketchup viewer. Hmmm ... no luck. If you have an easy alternative I would greatly appreciate it.

I've uploaded "Assembly.stl". The components are 1000x scale. Hope this helps!

I got it !! Thanks so much. Assembled this morning and works like MAGIC ... thank you so much. I went to my golf bag and found 2 identical pencils. Golf score marking pencils - perfect size - I cut the one into 3 pieces . eraser end , middle, and sharpened end. I like that. Great job on this.

Great! Happy to help, and thanks again!

Hummm ... I can not open assembly SKP .. any sugestions ?? thanks

I've uploaded "Assembly.stl". The components are 1000x scale. Hope this helps!

The assembly procedure is in the file "Assembly.skp". You'll need to download "Sketchup 2015", it's free. If you can't, let me know and I'll post an "Assembly.stl".

How does it work???? It's so confuzzling!!!!

I don't know, it's magic!

Examine the file "Assembly.skp", the secret is exposed there.

But if you still need more information on how it works, message me.

Excellent design, just printed one on my Prusa i3 with 0.25 mm layers. Needed a little sanding on the pins to be able to fit, but other than that it went without a hitch.

Thank you very much, glad you like it!

I just printed one. Works PERFECT

Great, and thanks!

I love this ! Will make one later - have you seen my magic water jug?


Magic Water Jug

Thanks, and nice work on the jug!

How long does it take to print? i just figured out how it works.

It took about two hours for me to print all the components on my Replicator 2 running at 150% speed.

The longest print time was the pencil.

Very clever - my kids would love this!

Nice one.

Thank you very much!

Another "must print" from Gzumwalt!
We are going off-grid and communing with nature for a few days in South Wales tomorrow but guess what I'll be doing as soon as we get back!
Top video and cracking design as usual - thank you.


Many thanks Alan!

I am indeed humbled by the feature and your comment!

Congrats on the feature! Well deserved:-)

Thanks loubie!

I'm truly humbled!

I don't really know, it's magic!

But if you really must know, send me a message...

Look at the STLs, that will give you the hints you need.