Jigsaw Puzzles

Begin by selecting the type of photo, picture or art that you wish to make the puzzle from. Digital photos make a great choice because they are simple and inexpensive to print from your home computer. Until you feel comfortable with the process of puzzle making, it is highly recommended that you do not use an original photo. Mistakes can happen when cutting a puzzle, so stick with a photo that can easily be reprinted.

Decide on the size of the puzzle that you wish to make, which will usually depend on the size of photo that you plan on using for the puzzle. One thing to keep in mind is whether you want someone to spend hours do choi lap rap 3d kim loai putting the puzzle together, or you want the puzzle to be solved quickly. As a general rule, larger puzzles with higher piece counts usually are considered to be more difficult.

Select a good quality plywood substrate no thinner than a 1/4″ thick. Baltic birch plywood is great if you have a source for it, otherwise the plywood sold at most most craft stores will be sufficient. Either way, the more cores, or layers the plywood has the more stable it will be. For this reason avoid home center plywood, which is meant for construction not fine woodworking. Not only will they have a minimum number of cores, the poor quality of these cores may lead to voids in the center of the panel that won’t be evident until it is too late.

Prepare the substrate by making sure that all imperfections are filled with a quality wood filler. Sand the substrate with at least 180 grit sandpaper, and use a vacuum or compressed air to remove all dust. Any dust or debris left on the substrate prior to gluing will telegraph through your photo, or even damage it. If time allows, press the panel between two 3/4″ plywood cauls for several days to ensure it is absolutely flat.

Glue the desired photo to the substrate. This is the most important step in the process of puzzle making. The best method I have found is to use 3M Super 77 spray adhesive. Water based glues, though tempting, may add too much moisture to your photo causing creases and bubbles to telegraph through. Whichever method you choose, it is important that the substrate is completely covered with glue. Any voids in the glue will be exposed during the cutting process, and may damage the piece beyond repair.

Properly tune up your jigsaw. Properly mounting the saw to a stable bench will reduce vibration. Square the table to the blade, and clean and wax the saw table. If your saw has a large throat opening, make a simple zero clearance insert by cutting part way through a business card and taping it to the table. Zero clearance helps to prevent smaller pieces from becoming damaged by falling through the opening.

Install the smallest blade that you feel comfortable using. A 2/0 blade is by far the largest I would recommend. Thinner blades, though easier to break, make for much tighter fitting puzzles. The best option is to order blades specific for puzzle cutting or 4/0 or 8/0 jeweler’s blades from an online source or catalog.

Cutting the puzzle can be accomplished in one of two ways, freehand or with a template. With either method, care must be taken to ensure the the pieces fit snugly together, while maintaining a uniform size.

Freehand, while more difficult to master, will lead to less predictable (and therefore more difficult) puzzles. This method also allows you the freedom to cut around important sections of your puzzle as opposed to cutting through them. (i.e. a loved one’s face or another important element of the photo)

Templates are a good way to begin to learn the art of puzzle making. Templates can be printed from online sources or drawn freehand by you, the craftsman. If you choose to use this method, you will need to read below, otherwise continue to cut freehand.Glue the template to a 1/8″ thick piece of plywood or heavy card stock. Once the glue has dried, stack this glued template onto your puzzle blank and wrap both pieces with clear packing tape. It is important that you completely wrap around the entire “sandwich” to ensure that it doesn’t come apart while cutting the puzzle. Simply follow the lines of your template, remembering that slower is usually better. Do not get frustrated if you stray from the lines of your template. Once the template is removed from the cut puzzle, you will be the only one to ever know.

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