Re: I wonder how many people have actually solved the cube?
@Martin, I had more or less the same experience. First I crafted a wooden model after just having seen an assembled Rubik's Cube. It did the job, but you could not turn it fast enough. So I bought the real thing and found a procedure which worked for 50% of the cases. On failure I just scrambled the cube at random and tried again. Eventually I lend my Rubik's Cube to a friend who was recovering from a brain injury. May be it is still in use in the hospital.