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Old 06-19-2009, 06:54 PM   #1
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Default Greetings from Chico, Calif.

Greetings from Chico, Calif. where I help put together exhibits for our local museum. (http://chicomuseum.org/upcoming/) In August we will open with a collection of “Faces”, see link above for details. There will be over 120 9x11” faces on display. Our curator is big on inter-active and wants four of them cut into jigsaw puzzles. So I get an excuse, as if I needed one, to buy a scroll saw. I already have a fairly complete shop with two table saws, planer, shaper, etc. So I’ll be looking for a sturdy machine and any advice will be appreciated. More importantly, where can I find just the patterns for such a venture? The plan, as of now and that can change in a flash, is to attach a copy of the image on one side and the pattern on the other and cutaway, or am I in over my head already so soon!! And which is the better material, ¼’’ BB Ply, or MDF?
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:25 PM   #2
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No pattern needed, if your doing a puzzle, freehand is fine. Search for postings by Carter , he does great puzzles and never uses a pattern. And between mdf or BB ply, ...... BB Ply by far! Much easier on blades!
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:14 AM   #3
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I have been using a Excal-30 for ten years and it is still the best one that I've owned.
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Old 06-21-2009, 12:43 AM   #4
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Hi, Bill. Like Dale said, freehand is best. Lots of people use patterns, but using them are more tedious, whereas freehanding allows you to express yourself better with your cuts. There are really no rules, just make sure you practice making nice knobs which lock well if you'd like a fully interlocking jigsaw in the end. Keep your border pieces nice and tight.

I like using cherry and mahoganey best, but people also like using birch and poplar is popular (ha! poplar is popular...say that 10 times fast).

How many pieces are you looking at? Do you want to cut them into big chunks like a tray puzzle, or into many small pieces? A 9" x 11" picture could easily go well over 300 pieces.
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Old 06-21-2009, 01:53 AM   #5
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Shawn, Dale and wjb, thanks for your responses. How little I know what I’m getting into. Not being a puzzle person only reinforces the naiveté. Given these puzzles are intended for youth visiting a museum I suspect more than 20-30 pieces will exhaust their attention span. And freehand will enable me to fine-tune that number. If you all have some doubts, let me know. Given the traffic, a tray seems appropriate. Wow, I’m still adjusting to the freehand concept. So what does one use for a cutline, a pencil? Looks like I’ll be practicing knobs on plain paper for a while. Shawn, you mentioned several species of wood so I assume it is all ¼ ‘’ ply, correct? If so, are 3 layers tough to finish the edges? My hardwood source has lots of Baltic Birch plywood. I love the stuff for drawer sides and other projects and jigs .
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Old 06-21-2009, 08:49 AM   #6
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Hi, Bill. Sorry, I should have specified the thickness. Usually with puzzles, most cutters find that 1/4" ply works best. If making a tray puzzle, some people use a 1/4" back, or even a 1/8" back.

Real narrow blades (2-0) are great for jigsaw puzzles, but if you are making tray puzzles, consider a thicker blade as the pieces may actually be too tight and frustrate kids a bit. If making tray puzzles for real little kids, try to keep the pieces bigger (easier to assemble, and less chokeable...aim for something that cannot be passed through a toilet paper tube).

Baltic birch is indeed very popular. I find that it cuts somewhat difficultly, however. The plus is that the pieces have a nice, visible 5-ply ribbon on the edges. Poplar is easy to cut and tends to hold it's adjoining pieces somewhat better.

I have never had a problem sanding any of my ply species.

You are indeed getting yourself into a big job....how many do you plan to make? Is there a deadline? If there isn't a lot of pressure to get them done, then you might find that you enjoy it quite a bit, however.

When freehanding, I don't use lines at all. Just practice on some old, unprinted scrap ply and you'll get a hang of it. Your first puzzles will look rough and may not hold well, but every one you do, you will likely find them getting nicer and nicer. Lots of practice and lots of phun!

Gotta go....my kids want to give me something for Father's Day!!
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