|Project by Karson||posted 01-20-2009 06:19 PM||2043 views||8 times favorited||14 comments|
As i have mentioned in other postings, when I got back into doing some woodworking in St. Louis, one of the things that I made were name puzzles.
It was a great business. Names for kids, married people and I even made wedding gifts with a big heart on the end.
This one is my wife’s and mine and it is around 35 years old. All my puzzles were made with Aromatic Red Cedar and with no finish.
If I was just cutting a single layer I used a 1/16” bandsaw blade. I welded them myself and they had a life of around 1 hr before they shattered. They were metal cutting blades and 32 tooth, so there was not a lot of metal left for the blade. The metal fatigue did them in. They would usually shatter into many pieces. If they only broke at the weld, I’d re-weld them and keep going. When I made blades I usually made about 25 so that I’d have a stock when I got into the cutting groove. Some welds would pop in 5 minutes. A testament of my welding job.
I purchased the wood at a sawmill, south of St Louis that only cut Red Cedar. All of his sawdust and chippings went into a bag and were sold as pet bedding. I paid 25 cents a bd ft for the wood back then. I’d buy 1 X 6 that were about 1” thick. I’d plane the board down to get rid of the saw marks and then I’d go sit in front of the TV with my alphabet cut out of Plexiglas (My own letter design) with my list of orders and I’d draw all the names. The upper case letters are about 3” and so I could get two rows of names per board. I’d include knots if solid otherwise I’d move the names around to give me the best utilization of the wood. All orders were word of mouth, I went to some craft shows for a year but then I’d wait for the phone to ring. And ring it did. I sold them for 75 cents a letter and I figured that i was making about $20.00 an hour for my time. That was a great wage then.
The outsides were cut with the 1/16” blade and if a single row name I also cut the puzzle loops. If a double layer name then the loops were cut with a scroll saw so that the kerf was smaller and the name wouldn’t sag when sitting on a table. In some cases where one name had tall letters like an ‘L” (Dale) in the middle of the name then the upper name had some support. In the case of mine and my wives, the upper name is sitting on top of the lower name.
The holes for “a” and “o” were drilled with a Forstner bit, the inside of capital “A” and others had a smaller drill and then the clean out with the scroll saw.
My family didn’t see me between Thanksgiving and Christmas because I was spent all my time standing in front of a bandsaw and cutting wood. The garage was full and so I spent most of my time standing in the doorway bundled up for cold weather, cutting and sanding.
I used a 1X42” sander to clean up the edges and a 6” sander to clean up the surfaces. Nothing high tech sanding marks were visible on the edges, but you had to be careful that you didn’t screw up the interlocking pieces.
These things paid for my tools and gave my kids $100.00 bills for Christmas to make up for not seeing them except when i was inside drawing the names.
It was a great time.
-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia firstname.lastname@example.org †