About Turtle Teasers Jigsaw Puzzles
Turtle Teasers jigsaws and jigsaw boxes are made from materials of the highest quality. The images come from a variety of sources - Art Prints, Posters, Postcards, Books, Calendars, Photos, etc.
Images are mounted on Birch plywood, which is the best wood for this purpose. Obtaining a supply of consistently good plywood is a never-ending concern. I prefer to use 1/4” 5-ply Finland birch plywood, but will use Baltic Birch or Russian Birch if it meets my quality standards . Occasionally I will use premium 12-ply aircraft-grade Finland Birch 1/4” plywood, but as this is extremely expensive, I usually reserve its use for the smaller puzzles with smaller pieces.
The images are mounted with an archival adhesive, and left to dry thoroughly for a few days before the cutting begins.
The puzzles are cut with an electric scroll saw, using extremely fine blades. For most puzzles, which have small pieces and are targeted at adults or older children, I use blades just 0.007” thick (7 thou), although for the occasional children’s puzzle, with much larger pieces, I use thicker blades, up to 0.011” (11 thou). Consequently, the pieces fit together very precisely.
In order to make the puzzles as challenging as possible, I cut my puzzles on an evenly spaced grid. This ensures that the pieces are regularly sized and similarly shaped, and so provide minimal clues as to their placement in the solved puzzle. Many other puzzle cutters, probably of a more artistic nature than myself, include “figurals” or “whimsies”, which are pieces of recognizable shapes, such as animals or flowers, and which, although adding interest, make the puzzle much easier to solve. However, I do include one figural in my puzzles - a piece shaped like a Turtle, which is my signature piece, and identifies the puzzle as a Turtle Teasers puzzle. This Turtle piece is numbered, dated and signed. I have mixed feelings about incorporating the Turtle piece, however, as I know that puzzlers find it easy to fit the pieces immediately surrounding the Turtle to build up that area quickly.
Some puzzles are cut on a grid that runs parallel with the sides of the puzzle, while others use a grid that runs at 45 degrees to the sides. I call this a diagonal grid. Using this grid makes the puzzle much harder to solve, since you can’t build the edges first, and there are no corner pieces as such, each corner being built from two edge pieces
The cuts between the grid points are made freehand in a number of styles. No two pieces will be exactly identical due to the freehand cutting, but they can be confusingly similar. The most difficult puzzles will be cut with a single style, but I sometimes vary the style between the grid points to reduce the difficulty, especially for the larger puzzles which are already pretty difficult.
When the puzzle has been completely cut, I sand the back to remove the “whiskers” created by the saw blade and thus smooth the surface. Then I rub tung oil into the back to produce a light golden finish.
Turtle Teasers puzzles are cut in a highly interlocking style, so that the completed puzzle can be picked up by any corner piece without any pieces dropping out. With a little care, it can be supported on the tip of a single finger under its center. Consequently, if you have built two sections of the puzzle and realize that they connect, it is easy to pick up one of them and move it to fit with the other. Try doing that with a cardboard jigsaw puzzle!
Each Turtle Teasers puzzle is supplied unassembled in a sturdy plywood box with a sliding lid. I make these boxes with the same care and precision with which I cut the puzzles. No guide picture is provided, because serious puzzlers generally prefer to work without a guide, since part of the fun is in discovering the picture. I keep an archive of jigsaws that I have made, so I can usually email you a guide picture if you send the the puzzle number to email@example.com.