Our Puzzle Journey
Our puzzle making dream started out in early 2017 with the idea of manufacturing our own line of puzzles that were more personal then anything you could find in the stores. We wanted something that was handmade, not mass produced. Little did we know back then that there would be so much to making a silly little puzzle! Here is just a taste of our puzzle making experience and what we have overcome.
Our first purchase was a 40 piece die. Craig's intent was to build a press that he could put a hydraulic cylinder on and just hulk smash it till it cut. This was a great theory, but as far a quality goes, not the best approach. Craig was able to get part of the puzzle to cut, but was never able to get an even pressure across the entire puzzle for it to cut cleanly. Time to scrap our homemade contraption and go with something that was proven to work.
We would like to introduce you to our die cutting machine, Matilda. We did a lot of research of all the different types of machines from punch press styles to rolling machines. After countless hours on YouTube trying to learn the pro's and con's of each, we finally decided on a rolling style machine. The biggest challenge we now faced was if there was one that could be found in the states. Unfortunately for us, the only one we could find was from a company in China. The company was very helpful with everything along the way, and gave us a fair price for what we got. After learning all about customs and getting your products off of the port property, Matilda made it home.
Now that we had a machine that we have seen on YouTube make perfect puzzles, we were ready to start mass producing puzzles at an alarming speed. Not so much. The first time we ran Matilda, she blew a fuse, so Craig had to rewire the house with a stronger wire to the fuse box. Then it was time for us to learn just how many different types of paper there are in the world. 40 point, 60 point, 80 point... Single ply, laminated, cross grain and straight grain... We were able to find a local paper supplier that was willing to learn with us through this process and contacted his mill to get us a bunch of samples of everything. The biggest problem that we were having with almost every sample we received was that the layers wanted to separate, mostly in the corners. No matter what we tried, we just couldn't seem to get a quality cut. We would contact the mill, they would run us a special batch with a little different recipe, but nothing was working. Finally, after 11 months, we found a distributor that dealt with ESKA brand chipboard. This board is made specifically for jigsaw puzzles.
Now we thought for sure that we were in business. We have a proven machine and top of the line chipboard, nothing can stop us now. Well... There was still that little thing called quality that needed to be tamed. Now if we have learned anything from this entire process, it is that no matter what, quality is our number 1 priority. With that being said, the amount of frustration involved with getting so close to perfect, but knowing that close doesn't count, is crazy. We were getting 80%, 90%, 95% perfect, just not 100% sale-able quality. That is until now. We learned that there is a very measurable amount of deflection in the machine when it is under full load. Once we found out exactly how much everything was moving, Craig was able to compensate for it in ways only Craig can figure out! Now we finally have a product that we can stand behind.
So as you puzzle at home making memories with your family, or are just an avid puzzler like Judy, doing it for fun, know that we have done everything we can to bring you the highest quality puzzle our garage can produce! We are not a fancy production shop whipping out thousands of puzzles a day, we are a husband and wife working in the garage of our house bringing this dream to life.
I hope you enjoy putting our puzzles together as much as we enjoy making them for you!