Diecuts for Jigsaw Puzzles

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We have received many questions about the cutting of jigsaw puzzles.

· We believe that it is seldom possible (and rarely practical) to make one complete jigsaw puzzle from two incomplete jigsaw puzzles. Here's a few of our reasons:
Few people would expect wooden puzzles to be always cut the same way, but cardboard puzzles are cut by large machines, so many people assume that each puzzle of the same title and series is identical. Actually, many such puzzles have been cut with slightly different dies or die alignments, or with slightly different die to picture alignments. [See "Palomino", below.]
Sometimes, two dies are used on each puzzle: one die for the horizontal cuts and another for the vertical cuts. Even if two puzzles were cut from the same die or two dies, the pieces from one puzzle still may not fit well in the other puzzle. Dies can change shape slightly, or develop wear, or break - sometimes repairs must be made. Also, individual, uncut puzzle boards may be aligned to the dies with slight variations. The only way that a piece could fit perfectly in another puzzle would be if the two puzzles had been struck with absolutely identical alignment. That is possible but probably not frequent. We have heard from one person who claimed to have completed a single puzzle this way.
See TUCO Puzzle Site for further discussion of this topic.
Thanks, Jim McW

· We frequently receive questions about how many pieces a certain puzzle or series of puzzles contain, for ascertaining whether the puzzle is complete or not. Most die cut puzzles can in effect be described as strip cut ( regular interlocking pieces in both vertical and horizontal). If this is the case, then, by assembling one vertical and one horizontal edge and counting the number of pieces in the vertical and the number in the horizontal and multiplying these two numbers, the total number of pieces can sometimes be determined. This can also be used with some hand-cut, wooden puzzles but with some caution, since the cutter may sometimes first cut his board into smaller sections and then divide up the sections in such a way as to arrive at, or very close to, the desired total.
In any case, we do not believe that counting pieces is a fool-proof method of determining completeness, for a number of reasons:
1) The number of pieces printed on most boxes is approximate and usually labelled as such ("approximately" or "more than" ).
2) The number of pieces can vary from puzzle to puzzle within the same series.
3) Dies can break or make incomplete cuts, resulting in two pieces "coming out as one".
4) When a piece is accidentally left out of a box, it often gets into the next box on the assembly line. If this happens, and another piece is left out of that puzzle, it will seem to have the right number of pieces, but it will actually have one missing and one extra piece.
5) Some of the more challenging puzzles are impossible to estimate, so the number on the box can only be considered a guide.
6) Occasionally, puzzlers somehow get a piece from one puzzle into the box of another puzzle. So, a "correct" count is not a guarantee of a complete puzzle.

One of our own experiences:

We happened to buy two "identical" copies of this puzzle, but each had at least one piece missing.
Title: " Palominio "
Series: no. 513, 4630:69
Date of issue: probably late 1940's to early 1960's
So we compared the two assembled puzzles, side by side. Below are some pictures which illustrate some of the differences in the way the puzzles were cut. Note that in each case, comparison shows that the register, or alignment, of the diecut to the picture is lower on the W puzzle than on the B puzzle. I would not be surprised to find that others of you out there have copies of this same puzzle with still other differences in alignment.

puzzle B
Puzzle B
, two pieces missing.

puzzle W
Puzzle W
, one piece missing.

horse piece B
the piece missing on the horse, Puzzle B.

horse piece W
the same piece on the horse, Puzzle W.

sky piece B
the piece missing in the sky, Puzzle B.

sky piece W
the same piece in the sky, Puzzle W.

mountain piece W
the piece missing in the mountains, Puzzle W.

mountain piece B
the same piece in the mountains, Puzzle B.

signature W
signature pieces, Puzzle W.

signature B
signature pieces, Puzzle B.

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