Towers of Time (Hanoi)

I purchased a CNC router/mill and I was asking around for a local supplier of endmills. Graham of Ottawa Robotics suggested Legere! As I went to the Web site to verify the address and kaboooom! I had a flashback!

I had almost completely forgotten about a cool project I did when I was about 25 years old. Wow, this is over 20 year ago!

I was cruising garage sales in Ottawa South with my friend Norm. We came across a homemade puzzle of the Towers of Hanoi. (This is a very well known puzzle for those of us like myself who studied computer science at university (Norm studied computer systems engineering)). We both liked to see a physical implementation of the puzzle as most of us software types have only know the Towers of Hanoi as a concept.
We decided that it would be a great idea to make a company to make those and sell them in retail establishments such as Den for Men and such.

I got busy with the idea fairly quickly. Norm didn’t really act right away but I decided to let him in as a partner since we jointly talked about the idea a the garage sale. I had purchased some tooling and Norm paid for half the cost.

I did the prototyping and came up with a solution for manufacturing, sourcing and sales myself.

We got an industrial condo at Carling and Queensway.

The name “Towers of Time” was used since it could be a trademark (Towers of Hanoi is already a household word).

How it’s made

They were made of solid oak. Oak came from Ziggies Lumber (and a few other suppliers). We used to go down their and fill up a car with Oak very regularly. 🙂

The base was cut off using a mitre type circular saw. The edges were then cleaned on a router table and a drill press was used to drill the three holes.

Doweling was purchased and sliced off with a jig and cleaned up on a sanding machine.

The disks were made on a drill press with a fly cutter (that I had custom made at Leger (I think)). I seem to recall having it made from carbide as the commercially available fly cutters used to get eaten alive with our eight hour shifts of production.

The Finish was done in a few steps. I did a lot of experimentation with brushing, spraying dipping and other things. I eventually determined that spraying was the best. I made racks out of 2″ strapping and coat hanger wire. You could undo the wire from one end and load lots of disks on each wire. Once the disks were mounted on the rack, they could be sprayed. There were two layers containing the pigment (stain), then 4 layers of seal. It came out glossy. The environment had to be controlled! Once a rack was sprayed, then the frame could be lifted to the roof for curing using ropes. Lots of racks could be in the ceiling.

We had a garage door on our condo so we could open that for ventilation.

The business side was most interesting. What a fun experience!