We have been collecting adult wooden jigsaw puzzles , informally, for 65 years, starting with Par Puzzles in 1948. The collection was augmented in the 1970’s with the addition of 120 antique and current puzzles.
R. E. Hoyt has been cutting for over 30 years for family and friends.The last three summers, ‘Puzzle Camp Week’ was instituted for young new cutters (kids) and was a great success.
Puzzle Cutting Approach
The print is selected for interest, color, and paper quality. The ‘hunt” for the prints is part of the fun, They can be found in many places: museums, art shows, calendars, old books, and online, etc.
The prints are applied to the puzzle board with contact cement. The puzzle board is 3ply 3/16” or ¼” basswood or mahogany plywood. I glue up 6-9 prints at a time on a 2’ x 4’ board. The prints are put on one side. On the back of the plywood, a mahogany or cherry veneer is applied with the same contact cement. Both sides are hard rolled to assure a good adhesion.
The puzzles are then roughly cut out and stacked between clean paper and weighted down overnight to ensure they are permanently glued for long term durability. The following day they are individually and precisely cut on their outer edge and sanded. They are now fully prepared puzzle boards awaiting their turn at the saw.
I use a German Hegner 18”variable speed saw with foot pedal. The blades I use are extremely thin for a fine cut and clean kerf. The edge pieces are cut first, then I work my way into the puzzle, cutting interlocking free-hand pieces and cutting my shapes. As I cut, I put the puzzle together so it’s complete at the end of a session.
When done, the back is lightly sanded and cleaned. Two or three thin layers of tung oil and/or tung oil and shellac are applied with a rag and allowed to dry over the next few days.
Very labor intensive but very rewarding!