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Making Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles


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About the Author

Charlie Ross is a second generation puzzle maker and avid photographer who currently spends much of his time behind the camera and exhibiting his work in galleries.


Since Evan Kern's Making Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles went out of print more than a decade ago, aspiring puzzle makers have had no book to teach them the ropes. Charles W. Ross has stepped in to fill that void with a new volume by the same title. Ross is a second generation puzzle cutter. During the Great Depression his father, Charles W. Ross 3rd (1903-1989), wanted to supplement his income as the manager of the family corn canning factory in Frederick, Maryland. He built his own wooden jigsaw mechanism and mounted it on the treadle base from a Singer sewing machine. He pasted calendar pictures to plywood, cut them up in his basement workshop, put them in bright orange cardboard boxes, typed the labels, and rented the finished products out for 25 cents per week. Everyone in the Ross family enjoyed assembling jigsaws. Some fifty years later Charlie Ross, the son, and also a woodworker, began making his own jigsaw puzzles as gifts for family and friends. Now, having retired from a career in occupational safety, he is sharing with the public what he has learned about puzzle making. This 103-page handbook is clearly written, accessible even to middle schoolers in shop classes, and generously illustrated with Ross's own professional photographs. It covers the basics of materials and tool selection, glueing a picture to a board, cutting, and packaging the finished puzzle. Ross concentrates on simple strip cutting, and offers step-bystep instructions for five practice puzzles. The first three are plain wood with grid lines drawn on them to develop skill at cutting large, medium and small pieces. The fourth and fifth practice puzzles use pictures, require strip cutting without any guidelines for the patlem, and include a few figure pieces. Finally he takes the reader through a 400-piece puzzle project that incorporates the lessons leamed in the five practice ones. He briefly mentions some cutting tricks-split comers, disguised edges, fake edges, irregular edges, drop-outs, and color line cutting and illustrates a few of these. Two appendices present a short history of wooden jigsaw puzzles and ten pages of patterns (strip cut grids in three sizes, letters, numbers, and thirty figure pieces). An index makes it easy to find topics.

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