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It's August! Think Christmas!

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  • It's August! Think Christmas!

    Hi folks....

    About this time of year I start getting really serious about our Christmas card puzzles. I used to wait until mid-August when Christmas cards hit the stores to buy them, but now I buy them a year in advance. I've been cutting this year's since January and have 60 done, out of hopefully 85. Our friends really appreciate them and have saved them from year to year. I mail out around 40, give away by hand about 25 and use others for special gifts, such as for my granddaughter to give her teachers.

    I have included photos of the front and back of this year's card below, after which I've listed some simple instructions, which I hope you'll try. If you want to see my cards from some other years, you may do so by scrolling down the Picture Trail album for which the link is listed below:

    - Buy a box of cards you like, preferably one where the picture has a lot of small images to use as the bases for puzzle pieces.

    - Cut the card in half and glue the picture half to 1/4" plywood. (I use poplar and sometimes cedar, but any is okay)

    - Cut the outside line of the puzzle, making sure you cut enuf off so it will fit back in its envelope when attached to wood.

    - Spray with a finish. I use one thick coat of any "triple-thick" glaze spray).

    - Start cutting, using the shapes depicted in the picture as guides ( pattern!) and provide locks on the pieces to their adjoining pieces.. Your first one may be rough, but by the third you'll know what you want. Mine take about 24 minutes each at the saw for the 32 pieces.

    - Sand the back when finished, put the second page of the original card on the front, trimmed to fit. Cut a piece of colored poster board for the back and put it back in the original're done! Just remember, you may have to put in another stiff piece of cardboard for backing before mailing.

    Good luck.....and have phun........Questions? bring 'em on!


  • #2
    Thanks for sharing that bit of information CarterJ. 85=No Way. Not this year anyway. But I plan to do a few this year to start with. Found some nice calendars to do. Will file those for now as I won't get to them for at least a month. ~Paul

    Paul S.


    • #3
      Ok, you lost me at the last step. If you put the original back on the front, don't you cover the picture you just cut out? I'm positive I'm just missing something conceptually, could you please try describing that part again? Or perhaps a photo showing the relationship of the original inside of the card, the posterboard, and the wooden puzzle would help...



      • #4
        You're right. The receiver of the card pulls it out of the envelope and immediately reads the message of the card and any personal message you have written (thus seeing who its from), pulls that message up to reveal the puzzle. The cover card coveys the message and keeps the puzzle pieces from falling out the front.

        The posterboard backs up the package. It's on the bottom of the puzzle.



        • #5
          thanks for posting this, guess ill have to try this also.......
          just looked at your i have questions

          what size blade do you use (mostly)

          Did you use patterns on any of them, if not how do you figure out where to cut, just practice ?

          puzzle challenged pete..
          Last edited by pete00; 08-01-2006, 07:16 PM.
          Pete Ripaldi

          "Insert Clever Tag Line Here..."


          • #6
            That is very cool! Seems a lot of scrollers enjoy the puzzles and this is sure to please. Thanks for posting it.

            August already, wow.... I can't believe how fast the year has gone by. When I seen your thread and mentioning Christmas, it was a relief to hear that someone else was thinking the same. For those who do the craft shows, or make presents for family and friends, this is the time to start I suppose.

            Hard to imagine with the heat what its been lately.... but then again, I'm in Canada... I don't associate heat with the holidays.

            Take care


            • #7
              Hi Carter

              Another example of inspirational sawing and another timely reminder.

              Oh, but I just can't focus on Christmas right now... September'll be early enough for me .

              There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
              (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


              • #8
                Pete, I use FD 2/0 "puzzle blades" 90% of the time, occasionally using an 8/0 jewelers blades when working with aromatic cedar (those jobs go much more slowly).

                No pattern. I use the images within the picture as my guide, as you can see. (Note how the chickens sometimes lock it together.) But, I will be the first to admit that, after I've cut a few, I've decided on the best way to cut the picture and all the rest are cut approximately the same. So I guess you can say I develp my own pattern in my head over time. And that's what I advise others to do. In my mind, there's nothing so unchallenging and boring as a puzzle cut in patterned strips from one side and then the other, producing identical square pieces. What's the phun in that?



                • #9
                  Can we maybe reschedule Christmas for another time? Maybe sometime in late January or early February. I've got too many fall/halloween things going on and I'm not sure when I'll get to Christmas.

                  Too much on the to-do list this summer.
                  "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney


                  • #10
                    Wonderful job as usual Carter!!
                    I bought cards last year after Christmas, and they still sit in the bag they came in! Not sure when I will get to trying this, but I do want to! Your work is inspiring!!
                    Theresa E




                    • #11
                      Ah, so you are recreating the original card using the inside and the posterboard, then tucking the wooden puzzle inside of that to keep it together while removing it from the envelope. Thanks for the clarification, I just may try this....



                      • #12
                        Now you did it!

                        Okay, Carter, now you did it! You've convinced me to take the plunge and try doing Christmas card puzzles. I picked up a box of cards last night that looked to me like they might be a good picture for a beginner at this. What do you think?

                        If this works, I have plenty of questions for you:
                        1) The card measures 7.75"x5.5". Approx how many pieces would you suggest I cut? My first stab (with a pen-not a saw) come up with 55, but I'm not sure how big the pieces should be. For this size picture would it be better to cut that down (no pun intended) to 20-25 pieces instead?

                        2) Do I need to cut tabs on every piece, or would the irregular shapes act as a tab?

                        3) Approx how much do you need to cut the card down to fit into the envelope on the ply? Any rule of thumb?

                        4) You mentioned using "triple thick glaze" to top coat the card before sawing. Is that the name of it and where can I get it? Is this something craft stores sell?

                        These will get me started. Sorry if I ask too many questions, but I like to have a good mental picture of what I'm doing before I start cutting.

                        Attached Files
                        . . . because each piece will be someone's heirloom someday.
                        visit sometime
                        Hawk 220VS, Delta 40-570


                        • #13
                          That's awesome! Very creative, yet simple enough so you can make them by the dozen. I take it you cut each one individually. That's a nice touch. No two are exactly alike. However, do you think stack cutting these is practical for those who may want to try this, but probably won't start until November?
                          Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."


                          • #14
                            Hey, folks....good luck....glad you're going to give this a try... believe me, you will be greatly appreciated!

                            Starting with Bill's question, I don't think stack cutting would work because of the exactness required to cut along color lines. Try it if you like, but I prefer to do one at a time.

                            And Bruce, I do recommend that you cut the number of pieces down a little. Each of my cards has been about 30 - 35 pieces, just enuf to make putting them together fun for both adults and children down to five years and perhaps four.

                            That's a perfect card. I would cut the border randomly (wiggly) , probably 1/4" or less from the original edges to allow room to fit in the envelope and still be snug for mailing.

                            Assuming you'll be cutting along color lines, all pieces will have probably have two or more locking tabs. Unless they have naturally locking shapes (like a head or an ear) tabs are necessary for it to fit tightly. For example, your crib will probably be one piece unto itself, with each of the two legs formed into locks and probably two locks on the top. The roof may be three pieces, one for the greenery and one for each of the two wooden ends. Experiment. You'll have a good formula by the time you've done the third one.

                            I buy the "triple thick glaze" at craft stores. Krylon makes one but some off brands are better. After one thick coat, just be sure to let each card dry a couple of days beforee cutting.

                            Again, good luck....let us know any further questions and keep us appraised of your progress.

                            Last edited by Carter-Johnson; 08-11-2006, 08:29 AM.


                            • #15
                              Carter, one more question . . .
                              when you glue the card front on to the ply, before putting on the triple thick glaze, do you use spray adhesive or something else?

                              . . . because each piece will be someone's heirloom someday.
                              visit sometime
                              Hawk 220VS, Delta 40-570


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