3x3x5 Tutorial

The 3x3x5 can be a complicated puzzle if you haven't solved a cuboid before. And it's not surprising - with 16 more pieces to solve than a regular 3x3x3. And did I mention it's a shapeshifter?

Don't worry - this guide will teach you how to solve a 3x3x5.


The Method

This method was created by Thom Barlow (most of you will know him as Kirjava) and was originally documented here. The method has three distinctive steps:

  1. 3x3x3 Step
  2. Columns (Roux blocks)
  3. L4E

This guide also has diagrams that show the algorithms for L4E, something the original guide didn't have.


Step 1: 3x3 Step

Basically, all you need to do is solve the E slice edges and the outer layers, just like a 3x3. Because of the shapeshifting, you can only do 3x3 moves, so that makes that step easier. I would recommend your starting colour to be either the U or D face (usually the white and yellow respectively). This makes finding the cross pieces and F2L corners easier. If you are full CN, then I would recommend only using white and yellow. The starting colour advice only really applies to CFOP and ZZ, but the same principles can be applied to other methods.


Step 2: Columns

After the 3x3 stage, there should only be the inner slice columns that need to be solved. Orient your cube, such that l and r slice moves can be done. We solve the columns by doing 1x2x3 'Roux blocks'. If you use Roux, then you can do them in a similar way you do on a 3x3, but CFOP users may want to put the B centers in, and then create pairs and insert them, just like F2L. I would also recommend you don't have a preference regarding colours, so you can take advantage of pairs/blocks already made. For the last block, you can repeat r U2 r' U2 (assuming the pair needs to be inserted in the Fr slot). For more information, see Kirjava's original guide.


Step 3: L4E

Now, we only need to solve the four inner edges. For this, we need to learn 15 algorithms. If you can mirror and invert algorithms, then you only need 11, but I would recommend learning all 15. If you already know K4LL (the last step of the K4 method), then you don't need to learn these.

3 Cycle

l' U2 r' D2 r U2 r' D2 r l

Mirrors/Inverses: 3

3 Cycle (Mirror)

r U2 l D2 l' U2 l D2 l' r'

3 Cycle (Inverted)

l' r' D2 r U2 r' D2 r U2 l

3 Cycle (Inverted/Mirror)

r l D2 l' U2 l D2 l' U2 r'

2x2 Cycle Diag (PLL Parity)

R2 F2 U2 r2 U2 F2 R2

Mirrors/Inverses: None

2x2 Cycle Adj (2 Flip)

U2 r' U2 l r U2 r' U2 r U2 l' r' U2 r

Mirrors/Inverses: None

2x2 Cycle Opp (PLL Parity + 2 Flip)

l U2 r D2 r' U2 l' r U2 l D2 l' U2 r'

Mirrors/Inverses: None

2 Cycle Diag

r U2 r' U2 r' U2 l U2 r' U2 r U2 F2 r2 F2 l'

Mirrors/Inverses: 1

2 Cycle Diag (Mirror)

l' U2 l U2 l U2 r' U2 l U2 l' U2 F2 l2 F2 r

2 Cycle Adj

r' U2 x l U2 l' U2 x' r2 U2 r U2 r' U2 F2 r2 F2

Mirrors/Inverses: None

2 Cycle Opp

r U2 r U2 x U2 r U2 l' x' U2 l U2 r2

Mirrors/Inverses: For the mirror, do a y2, and then the algorithm.

4 Cycle Clockwise

r U2 r2 U2 r' U2 r U2 r' U2 r2 U2 r

Mirrors/Inverses: The mirror is the anticlockwise 4 cycle.

4 Cycle Anticlockwise

r' U2 r2 U2 r U2 r' U2 r U2 r2 U2 r'

Mirrors/Inverses: The mirror is the clockwise 4 cycle.

4 Cycle X (British Parity)

r2 B2 r' U2 r' U2 x' U2 r' U2 r U2 r' U2 r2 U2

Mirrors/Inverses: None

4 Cycle Z

r U2 r l' U2 r2 U2 r' U2 r U2 r' U2 r' U2 l U2 r'

Mirrors/Inverses: For the mirror, do a y2, and then the algorithm.

Remember - learning all the algorithms takes time. Try to learn around 2-3 a day, and you'll be finished in a week. Another way to learn them would be to do full solves, and when you get to the L4E, do the algorithm from the sheet. This way, you learn the algorithms and familiarize yourself with the method at the same time.


Still have questions? You can ask in the Speedsolving.com thread here, PM me on Speedsolving.com or ask me in the guestbook. I'll leave you with some videos from the fastest solvers with this method: Kirjava and Dan Cohen.