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Stave Puzzles 101: What Is a Teaser Puzzle?

Whether you are new to the world of wood puzzles, specifically Staves, or experienced at doing traditional puzzles and looking for your next challenge, have we got a type of puzzle for you, drum roll please…Stave Teasers. Stave has been pushing puzzle innovation for nearly 50 years now and always seem to come up with some interesting and incredibly complicated non-standard designs to keep puzzlers frustrated. 🙂 Teasers are one of the staples of this group (other types include Tricks and Troublemakers) which have been puzzling puzzlers for about 30 years. Let’s dig in and, if you stay with us, you’ll even get to see a solution to a teaser, something we rarely show due to tradition.

Teasers are a totally different kind of puzzle than you ever have probably ever seen. While there are many ways that set these unique puzzles apart from traditional puzzles, we’ve put together our Top 5 reasons, complete with pictures, on what makes these so special. Here we go…

1. Themes, Themes Everywhere. First, they each have a theme that the pieces revolve around. From animals to household items, the pieces themselves are in the shape of the items.

“Sprinkler Time” 2 Sword Teaser (top)
“Turtle Soup” 3 Sword Teaser (bottom)


2. Frame Me In. There is a frame that surrounds these special pieces, in most cases. The idea is you start with the frame, which is made of traditional puzzle pieces, and then you need to fill it in with the “teaser pieces”.  A lot easier than it sounds!

3. Can I Give Up?  There is a rating system from 1-5 Swords, 5 being the hardest teasers. Don’t let the lower numbered ratings fool you, there are some 2 Swords that can stump you just as much as a 5 sword!

“Jonah and The Whale” 1 Sword Teaser (top)vs. “Pull My Strings” 4 Sword Teaser (bottom)

4. Not Your Grandma’s Pieces.  The pieces don’t fit together in the normal interlocking way. When you have correctly connected 2 pieces, they fit together snugly. However, if you have to ask yourself (or puzzle partner) “Do you think these fit together?” then they probably don’t. After getting a few pieces in, you will just know if it’s a fit or not. Here is an example of the right and wrong way to connect Teaser pieces.

5. Don’t Get Fooled. In addition to making sure you have the right piece connected, there are all sorts of little tricks designed into these puzzles. We’ll give one example so as not to give too much away. Notice the many little cuts in the frame that look like the teapots will fit? Well, in most cases they don’t!


Your Bonus! Here is your promised solution to a 1 Sword Teaser (something we almost never do) so you can get an idea of how a completed teaser looks!

This is just a short overview of what makes Teasers unique and hard, but with time and doing a few you will get the hang of them and come to truly enjoy and appreciate the amazing design and craftsmanship that goes into them!