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Old 07-16-2014, 02:03 AM   #1
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Default Tutorial/Work in Progress: Cutting Multilayered Jigsaw Puzzles From a Single Image

I thought that I would put together a step by step tutorial for the second technique I use for my multilevel designs, and share it here for the forum members.

I often get a number of questions about how I go about making one of these designs, and it is not always easy to explain. As such, creating a little photographic essay of the process I think will make it very clear.

The other tutorial ( Jigsaw Puzzle Tutorial: Making a Multi-Layered Puzzle With Figurals ) which I have had posted for a while now shows how to cut a multilayered puzzle using several copies of the original image, and layering them atop one another as totally unique puzzle sheets. Except for the "anchor pieces" which hold the sheets together, every piece is a single 1/4" thickness. The advantage of this technique is to create a puzzle with more numerous pieces, to increase the challenge level, and to be able to hide "secrets" under various layers. Another advantage is it requires much less gluing.

A disadvantage is that it involves gluing wood to paper, which forms a weaker bond than wood to wood.

...........

The technique I am going to review here shows how to cut a more complex multilayered puzzle from only a single image. The results can be very aesthetically nice and interesting, and the benefits include a more permanent, trustworthy bond. Disadvantages include a smaller piece count, and much more gluing time, and craftsmanship away from the scrollsaw.

For those interested in trying a puzzle like this from a pattern, my complete instructional article, along with a pattern and picture, can be found in SSW&C Spring 2014. For simplicity, that puzzle features individual pieces which are either 1, 2 or 3 layers thick. The puzzle I will discuss here will involve single pieces which contain various portions of thickesses (a single piece will contain a portion which is 1/4" thick, a portion which is 1/2" thick, and a portion 3/4" thick). For structural integrity, despite the variation of thickness within the piece, if you flip the piece over, it's back will be a solid, contiguous piece of wood.

For this tutorial, I am going to return to Winslow Homer, and borrow his painting "On The Fence," which is a wonderful image of a girl and boy enjoying each other's company. The painting, created in 1878, is in the public domain.


Conceptualization

When I seek a picture for one of my multidimensional designs, I try to find images which nicely allow for various levels of depth.





Here, I have decided on making a three-layered puzzle. The majority of the background (the grass, mountains, sky and leaves) will be a single layer thick. The horizontal fence rails and the large tree branch, along with the girl's right arm, will be two layers thick. Finally, the girl and boy themselves will be three layers thick, making them stand most prominently in the foreground.


Scanning the picture for potential pitfalls

Before investing time and effort into a puzzle, it is a good idea to sit back and study the picture, looking for any potential trouble spots. I see a couple right away with this picture. First, there is a very small space between the girl's pony tail and her neck, which will be a different thickness (the background is one layer, the girl is three). While this could be achieved, it is a trouble spot. Second, the space between the girl's nose and the ruffle on her right sleeve, is quite small. Since this will be a 5" x 7" puzzle, that puzzle piece (containing the background) will be too narrow and delicate. Finally, there are some leaves which overlay the fence and main branch. I have a decision to make with these, since most of the background leaves are only one layer thick. Since they are on top of the two-layered fence/branch, I could cut them 3 layers thick, like the boy and girl. Alternatively, I could eliminate them.





Since this is an image within the public domain and free to be altered, I decided to bring Photoshop to the rescue! As much as I hate to tinker with a masterpiece, to make this image work for my little jigsaw puzzle, I have color matched the girl's hair to fill the void, widened the gap between her nose and her arm, and removed the portions of the leaves overlying the fence and branch.


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Old 07-16-2014, 02:03 AM   #2
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Mounting the picture and preparing the puzzleboard

I am going to use sheets of 1/4" maple plywood to make this puzzle, and the first step involves glue mounting the picture (5" x 7") to one of the pieces, roughly cut to size.

I left a larger border of wood at the top, as I will be affixing a few screws there. Be sure to leave at least some wood around all of the edges.





Next, spray a nice protectant over the picture. Here, I am going to use Krylon's Triple Thick spray glaze, which leaves a nice durable finish. It has a long dry time (12-24 hours), but I actually mounted and sprayed this last night, so we're all set.




Since portions of this puzzle will be up to three layers thick, I am going to stack three similar sized sheets of my maple ply together, and affix them with wood screws. Double sided tape would also work, but you have to be more attentive for slippage, and you have to remove the tape from the backs of the pieces after cutting. For this reason, I prefer the screws.





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Old 07-16-2014, 02:04 AM   #3
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Next, I am going to cut my edges, but I will leave the top of the puzzle, with the screws, untouched for now.








And now the puzzle is all ready to go....tomorrow we'll start cutting our first pieces!


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Old 07-16-2014, 02:09 AM   #4
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TUTORIAL UNDER CONSTRUCTION



COME BACK SOON!

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Old 07-16-2014, 06:30 AM   #5
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Shawn I really enjoyed your presentation at the Open House. These are really bringing them home. Thank you for taking the time and effort.
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Old 07-16-2014, 07:16 AM   #6
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I look forward to an inside look at how you do your work. Even though I'm not likely to make a puzzle, although you never know, I enjoying learning about different types of scroll work.

Thanks for all your time and effort!
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:19 PM   #7
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Okay, so it's time for the first piece. When cutting multilayer puzzles, when possible, I like to cut the elevated portions first. This will make it easy in the end, to finish of the thinner pieces with a finer blade.

Also, the cutting should be done towards the screws (from the bottom to top). If I were to detach a portion of the puzzle from the rest of the puzzle board which is screwed together, my detached layers would fall apart from each other.

So, I think I am going to begin with that fence on the bottom.




Now remember, the fence is going to be two layers thick, and the background one layer. Let's see how to do that as an interlocking, sturdy puzzle piece.

When cutting a jigsaw puzzle freehand, remember to always have a good interlock on all of the outside edge pieces. This is very important.

So here is my first cut:




I am using a thicker blade here, than the regular FD-Special Puzzle blade I prefer for 1/4" wood. Since I will be making a two layer piece, I am stepping up to a FD-Penguin Silver #1. While being a thicker blade, there are no reverse teeth which might fray the picture on the upstroke.





So my first piece is cut.....but it's not done yet. I'll be back soon to show how to sculpt this into the 3-D piece we want to use.
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:11 PM   #8
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What I have now is a single piece with 3 layers. This particular piece will only have a two layered portion (the fence), so I can discard one of the layers.

TIP: When cutting this type of puzzle, there will be frequent discards of unused wood. It is good practice to use a small little box for these. It is not uncommon to accidentally throw away something you need, and it is much easier to look in the small box to retrieve it, than in a full garbage pail. When your puzzle is done, and all is well, empty the unused wood from the box into the trash and begin anew again.

You should get in the habit of always setting the base layer aside on every piece. This will be used every time, and should never be cut. By staying intact as one piece, it will maintain the piece's structural integrity.

So with this piece, I will set my base layer aside, and end up discarding the middle layer (which I have not yet done in the pic below)




Next, I am going to remove the top layer with the picture on it, and separate the grass from the fence, as they will be different elevations.




At this point, you should have the base layer (intact), and the cut up portions of the picture layer, as shown in the photo below.


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Old 07-16-2014, 03:37 PM   #9
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Now....the fence part is going to be easy. We can just glue that top layer back onto our base, and it will be the planned two layer depth. But what to do with the grass in the background?





This is the tricky part, and it comes up whenever transitioning from a multilevel portion to a single layer portion. In honesty, it is easier to make a puzzle with no single layer pieces, but that is not the design I'm using here, so I'll show you how to do it.

You're going to want to take a nice, sharp hobby knife, and carefully remove the paper from the wood. This is the part of this process which takes the most practice (being able to remove it in one piece, without damaging the paper). I have become very good at it by now, but it is a little tricky at first.





Now we have our two grass portions (paper only), the fence portion (paper on wood), and the base layer. To glue the paper back onto the base, I spread white Elmer's Glue with a toothpick (the glue is already applied in the picture). Be sure to cover the entire portion of wood which will be covered by the paper.





Here I have successfully re-glued the paper back onto the base:


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Old 07-16-2014, 03:40 PM   #10
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Next, we'll glue our fence portion into place with wood glue (spread with toothpick), and then glue the second portion of grass (paper).

This will complete our simple two-layered multidimensional puzzle piece.




As you can see, the back is still a solid piece of wood, and this puzzle piece will be very strong and durable over the years.





ONE PIECE DONE!!!



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