- Hand Cut Wood Puzzles from the Hills of Pennsylvania!
Most of my puzzles are cut in one of 5 styles: Standard, Spiral, Artistic, Long Arm or Enhanced Spiral.
I also offer Mixed, Butterfly, and Non-Interlocking or Strip-Cut on occasion. These types of cuts are described below.
Standard Cut: This is my primary type of cut with pieces connecting via mostly knobs with occasional earlets (heart-shaped knobs; early puzzles had more). Cut one piece at a time, the puzzle is highly interlocking overall but not every piece is fully interlocking. I haven't been putting as many earlets into Standard cut puzzles as I used to, although you may still find some.
Spiral Cut: Pieces interlock by long circular scrolls style rather than by knobs. It is not as fully interlocking as my standard cut, although I try to make it as interlocking as possible, and it usually can be picked up completely.. This style makes for a very beautiful and artistic puzzle- both as a unit and each individual piece by itself! It is more time-consuming for me to cut. I prefer to use this style with colorful or varied puzzles where not a lot of pieces will end up being the same color. (Otherwise it may be too difficult to solve!)
Artistic Cut: This cutting style came about after I grew weary of continually cutting in the same few styles. The variations of knobs and spirals were not enough anymore and I also found it very restricting to always try to maintain a nice-looking appearance of knobs or spirals -or both- throughout each puzzle. For quite a while I had been itching to give myself a break and try something new by cutting a puzzle where there were no rules and I could make wild and wacky shapes if I wanted! Puzzle #24 "Siberian Tiger" was my first Artistic Cut Puzzle. The following is taken from my notes on this puzzle,
"I made the pieces up as I went along... I didn't use patterns, but just went where the saw blade took me, creating many unusual and fanciful shapes. It is definitely a break from tradition! This was my first puzzle cut in artistic style and what I tried to do was to make each and every piece vastly different from the others, although with over 600 pieces, I discovered a few common traits among some of them... For example, some are peculiar and resemble fish bones or ribs! Others utilize a "cane" or "hook" in them, while some edges, large round ones in particular have "scalloped" or jagged edges... I employed both smooth, straight, and jagged cuts, using various combinations of them, and everything else I could think of as well! While this was a fun break from my usual cutting style, it took a lot of brain power to continuously come up with new pieces and keep the cutting interesting and unique throughout the duration of the puzzle. Therefore, I didn't find it as relaxing as my traditional cutting style. As a result, I think this style will probably end up being the exception rather than the rule! That is, I hope to be able to make one now and then, but its not something I'd want to do often! Kept me on my toes for sure!"
Here is a small section of the backside of that puzzle:
Here are some of the resulting pieces:
My latest Artistic Cut:
A small (6" X 8") puzzle in Long Arm Cut:
Enhanced Spiral Cut: This is a variation on my Spiral Cut and is the latest addition to my offered cutting styles. It is among the most time-consuming to make, so I don't cut as many of them.
Mixed Cut: My standard cut with the addition of spirals cut into the same puzzle. I usually try to sprinkle the spirals evenly throughout the puzzle. Cutting in this style gives even more variety to the pieces, so it is a lot of fun to work. It is still a very good interlocking puzzle. I don't cut many puzzles like this anymore, but can at request.
A variant of non-interlocking cut is "non-interlocking/strip-cut" - a style that is probably the quickest way to actually cut a puzzle, especially if it does not have any figurals. Puzzle #48, A Tree for Christmas, was one of my largest puzzles in this cutting style (It also had a lot of fun figurals!) Below is a small section of that puzzle, so you can see the shapes of the normal pieces of this cutting style.
Small section of non-interlocking
/ strip-cut style puzzle:
See photo below of one
continuous piece which was later cut into lots of smaller
All of the above cutting styles are done free-hand, with no pattern. No two pieces that are cut freehand will ever be exactly alike. With my Standard Cut which is my default cut, I try to give each piece an irregular and unique edge. A given piece will interlock with pieces around it via a lot of knobs and maybe occasional earlets. It is fun to look at and feel the different kinds of pieces used since they are all different.With mixed style, the addition of spirals adds even more variety to the puzzle!
Piece Ratio or Density:
Size of pieces in any given puzzle may vary. Some may be smaller or larger than others and that makes for a more interesting puzzle. On average I tend to cut at approximately 2 to 2.5 pieces per square inch. It is slightly different with each puzzle, and if the puzzle has straight edges, I can figure out how many pieces per square inch the puzzle has and will record the info in puzzle description.
My puzzles have ranged from 1.2 to 3.3 ppsi (pieces per square inch). Long Arm, Artistic, and Spiral Style puzzles usually produce pieces that are a little larger (usually 2.0 ppsi or less) than those of my standard cut (2.0-2.5 usually). Remember the smaller the pieces, the much more difficult it is to solve, so keep this in mind when buying a puzzle! If you are good at puzzles and like a challenge, you may prefer smaller pieces with a greater density. If you prefer larger sized pieces, then you probably want to look for a puzzle with a piece ratio of 2.2 or less.
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