Big Pennant Puzzle for Wife's Office Party

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Project by RussInMichigan posted 12-16-2012 02:32 PM 1595 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

On a recent visit to my wife’s office at Michigan Virtual School, I spied with my little eye one of her company’s pennants, and I thought it would make a nice jigsaw puzzle. My wife got a PDF containing the graphic from a coworker which I had printed at the copy shop. On photo paper it would have cost 40 bucks to have it duplicated, so I opted for a poster quality print. I mounted the image on quarter inch baltic birch plywood, and, then, because it was not photo paper, I gave it several coats of lacquer. Most of the pieces are at least 1 inch by 1 inch so they are easy to handle. I cut the exterior of the puzzle with a # 5 blade. Because the puzzle is 30 inches long, and my scroll saw is only a 16”, I had to make the initial dividing cut with a spiral blade. I think I used a 2/0. You can see how distinct the kerf is in the last image. I cut the interior of puzzle itself with Flying Dutchman Superior Puzzle blades. I de-fuzzed the back edges with 220 sandpaper. A smaller image was mounted on eighth inch plywood and then onto an appropriately sized box. My wife assembled it and counted the 167 pieces.

This will be my wife’s entry in her office’s holiday gift exchange this week.

Let me offer a bit of insight into the time and material needed to make this. Puzzles like this make wonderful gifts, but they are demanding to make and they are by no means cheap. I think my total time in this is about 6 hours and rough costs were(in US dollars):
printing: 26
plywood: 3
lacquer: 3
blades: 3

And, hard-to-account-for incidental expenses, like adhesives, sandpaper, sanding mops, shop expenses, etc.

Here at lumberjocks we rarely talk about the costs of projects or the time they they take, so I thought I’d share some of what it takes to put one of these together. Under conditions closer to ideal than what I’m working under, a scroll sawyer could reduce the time required rather significantly. I work between my garage(unheated in mid-Michigan), a back room, my dining room and my basement. I don’t want to spray adhesives or coatings in my house, but I can’t leave them in the cold to cure, so I move things around a lot. I don’t have a dedicated space that allows me to work very efficiently.

I really like making these and they make a lasting gift that can be enjoyed many times over. So, I’ll keep at it, as inefficient as I am, doing what it takes. Occasionally, though, I do like to consider what it actually takes to put a project together.

Thanks for looking in lumberjocks.


7 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2150 days

#1 posted 12-16-2012 03:34 PM

Speaking of “the cost”... I have had a bunch of folks come up to me and ask if I’d build them something. Sometimes it’s as simple as a birdhouse or cutting board because I give so many of those away. But sometimes it’s a more involved piece of furniture. And of course they always say “I’ll pay you”

My answer has always been the same…. I make these things to give away because…
1. I enjoy the time alone with God in my shop while I work with wood.
2. I enjoy seeing the faces of folks when I give them something I’ve made.
3. If I started doing this for money or as a business I’d quickly grow to hate my hobby.

Because then I’d be worried that Oh my, I need to make 8 more of these by next weekend’ show, or This table has to be finished for that person in the next town by next Tuesday…

An then there’s the issue of if someone commissions me to build something (say it’s only a small stool or end table) and they decide that the dont like something about it when it’s done, I’d then be forced to remake another or simply I’d now OWN that piece that I have no use for.

See, I believe that if I make something that’s “pleasing to the eye” so that MOST people will like it, and I GIVE it to someone, they’re gonna like it necause it’s a gift,and not something that THEY designed and I didnt quite match their expectations.

I have made things for folks before, and because I dont do this professionally I never quite know how to price it. So I’ve always told people “I have X-amount of dollars in this for just materials alone. I’ll let you decide what to pay based on how much you would have paid if you bught this in the store” And I usually add, “Dont ask me how much TIME it took me to do. If you were paying me by the hour for my labor, you couldnt afford me.”

I built a footstool for a lady once and I had $28 in materials. I told her to think it over and she could pay me whenever she was ready. She came to me 3 hours later and gave me 30 dollars. She thought that was fair. (I had about 8 hours in that project)

Another time I rebuilt a mailbox that someone’s father had made YEARS AGO before he died. It matched their house to a “t”. It was terribly rotted and basically the 15 layers of paint was holding it together. I left the structure exactly the same but I re-made it out of new materials and she couldnt tell the diffference. I told her a “little white lie” that I just rebuilt it back to original so it was still the same box her dad built. She was so moved by it that she came to me the next day with a hundred dollar bill. I tried to tell her that it was too much but she insisted I take the money. She told me that actually wanted to give me MORE, but I just wouldnt see of it. (Oh yeah, I had probably 20 hours in that mailbox because I knew how much it meant to her)

So yeah, I got a bit long-winded here ,,,, but I agree pricing your work is a pain if you want your labor to be worth anything but you dont do this as a profession.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Pallirondack's profile


66 posts in 2305 days

#2 posted 12-16-2012 04:15 PM

Joe in Tennessee…..that was the most eloquent explanation about pricing I have ever read. And true. I price the things I make based on what available out in the marketplace only because, like you said, if it was paid by the hour, no one could afford me. So, I’m either really slow (good possibility) or its about the joy of making something with my hands. Like you, if it gets to be “a job” or a “chore” then I won’t enjoy it. Nicely put. I may refer to this when people tell me they will pay me to make something. ;-)

-- David, Spring Hill, FL -- making projects from recycled pallets

View StephenSchaad's profile


201 posts in 2321 days

#3 posted 12-16-2012 04:24 PM

^^^ Awesome.. Time spent with God in your shop. Everyone on this site is a woodworker for some personal reason no matter what money is involved. Great explanation. When I saw this at first, I thought for sure it was cut using a CNC machine.. haha Nice puzzle!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21288 posts in 3248 days

#4 posted 12-16-2012 04:27 PM

How cool! I need to try to make one someday!!..............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3739 days

#5 posted 12-16-2012 07:38 PM

I don’t have that much patience. Looks great.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3410 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 04:24 PM

seems like the best way to run a woodworking business is to do it like an artist would. build something and then find a buyer rather then find a buyer then build it. that way the buyer wont be disappointed if it doesnt turn out right. if your stuff is nice and the price is right it will sell

View runswithscissors's profile


2843 posts in 2168 days

#7 posted 12-20-2012 07:41 AM

Alone with god in your ship? So that’s where he was when all those little kids were killed the other day. I thought maybe he’d been distracted by a fallen sparrow.

Sorry. I know you’re not going to like this comment. Just couldn’t help myself.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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