|This Rose Table Top puzzle is 11-1/4 inches by 16 inches and it contains approximately 2,000 pieces|
|This puzzle by Randy Crossman is 9 inches by 7-1/2 inches, and it
contains close to 300 piece
Jigsaw puzzles were first created in the 1700s by European mapmakers and since then, they have been embraced by adults and children alike for pure entertainment, as well as educational purposes.
Randy Crossman, a master puzzle cutter and owner of X-Man Puzzles located in Rutland, VT, has been cutting puzzles for approximately 20 years, he says. It started as a hobby, then less than a year ago he decided to display his work on a Web site and has received tremendous response from the public and media.
âI started cutting puzzles as a stay-at-home dad, and it evolved from there,â he notes.
Crossman says he experimented with puzzle design, using a scroll saw and then drawing different silhouettes and patterns. With his drawn patterns, he found that he could create interlocking pattern puzzles.
According to Crossman, creating the interlocking lines involved a bit of âtrial and errorâ because it is essentially the âsame [continuous] line that is cut all the way through the piece.â
But everything has to look the same, he adds. The circular or oval lines have similar shapes and every aspect of the piece is crafted and custom cut to create a workable interlocking puzzle.
Because of the intricate work involved, fabricating a puzzle can take several months between designing the piece and cutting it, Crossman says.
X-Man Puzzles are created out of 1/4-inch quartersawn cherry plywood. Crossman says that he takes two pieces of cherry plywood â one dark and one light. He puts them together with the grains turning in opposite directions, applies the paper design with the line drawing and then cuts the puzzles at the same time.
To date, Crossmanâs largest puzzle was a 4,000-piece set within a 16-inch circular diameter. Many of his creations are not designed to be worked out as a traditional puzzle because the pieces are so small.
âThey are designed to be appreciated as works of art,â Crossman says. âThere is nothing out there like it. Itâs part craft but more art.â
As a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter, Crossman often incorporates puzzle inlays into the custom furniture he creates for Yankee Woodworking, of which he is co-owner.
The puzzles he creates are often one-of-a-kind custom designed works and the costs for the Limited Edition Series can range from $400 and more, depending on the number of pieces and difficulty. As a result, Crossman created an affordable collection called the X-Man Series, for the general public.
For more information, visit www.xmanpuzzles.com.
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