This page gives you instructions for the third step of solving a rubik’s cube – the middle layer. The key is to learn a special sequence of twists – a move, that neatly drops an edge piece from the top layer into its home! You can then use this “move” to fix up as much of the middle layer as you like.
When I’m solving the cube, I only fix up three of the edge pieces on this layer. So, if you follow my strategy, your rubik’s cube will change…
From This –>
<– To This!
Solve the first layer first!
The instructions on this page show how to get the middle layer right, and not mess up the bottom layer. If you haven’t solved the first layer yet, you should start here. Or does the word layer make sense to you in this context? If you thought I meant a productive chicken, please don’t hesitate to read what I do mean before moving on.
One Special Move!
In the diagrams that follow, I’ll teach you a special sequence of twists, or a move, that helps immensely in solving the middle layer. It’s also a great help when you get to the top layer! Basically, a move is a sequence of twists, long or short, that only has a small effect on the cube. For example, there are moves that
Just flip two edge pieces, and leave the rest of the cube ok.
Just twist two edge pieces, leaving everything else untouched
Make just three edge pieces exchange places, and nothing else.
The move I’ll teach you on this page has the following effect.
One piece from the middle layer moves to the top,
One piece from the top moves to the middle,
And that’s all!
Ok, ok, that’s not all. It actually makes a complete mess of the top layer. But at this stage, the top layer is already a mess, so that doesn’t matter.
So, to fix up the middle layer, you do this :
Choose one edge piece that belongs on the middle layer – your “target piece“.
Apply the “Move”, so that it falls from the top layer into its home.
The move comes in two forms, which I call the right handed and the left handed versions. They are mirror-image twins of each other. You’ll probably need both. It’s surprisingly easy to memorise a move – just do it several times a day for a few days!
Sometimes you’ll find that the edge pieces you want to fix are already in the middle layer, but in the wrong places. Don’t worry, there are steps for solving this problem too.
The Right Handed Version
Below I explain the steps of the “right handed” version of the move. There are two things that need to be done.
Make sure the target edge piece is in the correct place for the move to work, then
The actual steps of the move.
Any good move has a kind of rhythm to it that makes it easy to remember. But first, some pretty pictures!
Here, I’m trying to move the green and yellow edge piece into the middle layer.
Its home is just a quick twist away, but doing this twist would mess up the bottom layer.
I’ve lined up the yellow stickers. Since its home is to the right, I know I need the right-handed version of the move.
To prepare for the move, I’ll first twist the top face, moving the target piece away from its home.
Note the green sticker, on top, opposite the green face.
Now the move begins!
First, twist the right hand face away from you, one quarter turn.
Second, twist the top face clockwise.
Third, undo your first twist – that is, turn the right hand face back towards you again.
Then, twist the top face back again.
Notice that one of the corner piece from the bottom face is now in the wrong place.
This will be fixed in the next three twists.
This time, twist the front face counterclockwise, as shown.
A twist of the top face puts the corner back with its friends.
Last of all, twist the front face back again, so the red stickers stay on the bottom.
Notice that the green and yellow piece – almost like magic – is now safely home!
As I mentioned, the move has a kind of rhythm to it…
Right face up, then top face left!
Right face back, then top face back!
Front face over and top face back!
Front face down and the move is done!
Tum-tum-te-ta ta-tum-tum-ta-te-tum-te-tum-te… oh sorry! Got a bit carried away there… he he! Err… where were we? That’s right… Ahem!
Try it a few times, until you can do the move “fluently”. Here’s a short video clip to help you get there :
If you repeat the move 5 times in the same place, all the edge pieces will be back to where they were when you started.
If you repeat it 6 times, all teh corner pieces will be back.
If you repeat it 30 times, all the pieces will be back where they were when you started. More importantly, you’ll know the move pretty well by then! Be sure to learn the left-handed version too!
If you haven’t yet fixed up three edge pieces, then choose another, and follow the steps on this page to get it back to where it belongs!
The Left Handed Version
The left-handed version of this move is explained below. Here, I’m trying to fix up the blue and purple edge piece.
Well, its home is on its right, but the blue stickers line up. I’ll give the top face a twist to the right.
Also, I’ll turn the whole cube so the purple face comes to the front.
There! Now the purple stickers line up!
The blue and purple edge piece’s home is on its left, so I need the left handed version of the move.
Giving the top face another twist, shifting the target piece away from me, gets it ready for the move!
The first step is to twist the left face away from me.
Then, the top face is twisted towards the right, or anticlockwise.
Next, twist the left face back towards you again.
Fourth, twist the top face back again too!
Now one red corner piece is out of place. Time to put it back!
Give thefront face a twist clockwise…
Turning the top face brings the lost corner piece back to its friends, and then…
Give the front face one more twist.
Then the bottom layer is as good as new, and what’s more, the target edge piece is home!