Christmas Puzzles

You know when you go to post a project, but then you don’t? For like weeks? Yeah, that’s what I do all of the time!

A month or so before Christmas, I finally decided to give puzzles a try. I had ordered these Amazon Chipboards

Which worked so well, I ordered a ton more to have on hand, and hopefully to sell. I’m a landscape photographer, well, I’m a guy with a drone who primarily takes landscape photos, and occasionally “drone selfies” so that I don’t have to worry about other people not taking good photos :grin: (Login • Instagram if you’re interested in my photos)

I ordered the photos through my local Costco to be printed on their Lustre (matte) photo paper, and picked them up. Originally started with 4x6 sheets to test, and loved the results so I used my 8x10 prints next.

Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, California

Satisfied with what I got, decided I would add that to my future projects folder, and waited for the next opportunity to make puzzles. Christmas was coming up, and as you all know, when you have a laser, people expect some custom gifts. The problem with this year, was that I was so busy with actual Christmas orders, I nearly didn’t have time to make anything for anybody I actually knew! My wife suggested we make puzzles, and so that’s what we did!

Helps that we have beautiful friends with beautiful families, but I loved the way they had turned out. As for settings and such, I used this puzzle generator, which, if you haven’t used it, yet, you seriously should!

I followed @jbmanning5’s lead and used his settings, as well as his suggestion of using pool salt to clean the edges of char. I don’t think he mentions the salt in this particular post, but I had found it in a comment he had made somewhere, also @shop suggested it in that same thread.

Anyway, figured I’d share since I had planned to weeks ago, but never did :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Make sure to not drop any pieces in your machine and send the rest thousands of miles away to your best friends, because they’ll love these so much that they’ll make them immediately and inform you that they’re missing pieces. :grimacing:


I should also mention that the photos of our friends were done on glossy paper, which I didn’t like, so I blasted them with this Mod Podge Matte Sealer Spray from Amazon. As long as you spray evenly, the finish is so smooth and delightful to the touch!


glad they turned out well for you. the best part is that they’re not really complictated to make. they just take a bit of time and have a few steps that require waiting (the finishing steps). but every time i’ve seen someone do a puzzle, the recipients always seem thrilled.

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Right! The adhesive part is probably the hardest part, but only because the super77 stuff I use sticks to everything. I literally wear a trash bag over my arm so it doesn’t get on me. Other than that, I think these take, like, 7 minutes to cut, which beats out any engraved projects that I could do. I did also send out these ornaments which were also loved, though my best friend said his dad kept butchering the pronunciation, but that’s fine by me!


The two part projects like this are always stellar, but the ease of puzzle making, and the reception to it, is great. I enjoy making ornaments that will last years, but they only come out once a year. I made the puzzles I think 80 pieces, so they can be done randomly, and easily enough throughout the year.


i seem to do fine with the adhesive (as long as i don’t get any on my roller). it’s the varnish (whether spray or brush on) that makes it more difficult for me. i don’t have a garage to do this in or to store the puzzles when they dry. and the smell… ugh.

i may have to revisit modge podge. i used a brush on hte one time i tried it and didn’t like it. how bad is the odor with the matt sealer spray you used?

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Not all that bad. Nowhere near as bad as the adhesive, and definitely not as strong as spray paint. It dries extremely quick, like within a few minutes, so I did about 3 coats if I remember correctly.


Spray glue is so horrible to work with, especially on larger print sizes. Turned out great!

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what are you using, JB? i have been using the 77 or equivalent. even for the extra large ones i did on the universal (16x30). spray both the board and the back of the print after setting up a tape hinge, then roll print onto board from tape edge, then roller it flat.



Just watched this video on this:

Wow, that’s seriously a cool machine!

Also, how does your RV have so much space to fit all this stuff in? :smile:


That may be a bit out of my league at the moment.

Pardon the mess…

It doesn’t :joy: I have a bunk room style that has a slide out. So it’s 8’ wide, and the slide out goes about 3’ out, which helps but it’s not all usable space, largely because I can’t reach some of it easily.


The wide-format printer stays in place. I have it on one of those chair mats, and then I have anti-slide stuff underneath each corner of it (the stuff you cut up and put in your cabinets), so that it doesn’t slide around.

The Glowforge gets packed up in the original box every time I move somewhere. Depending on what kind of cool stuff is around me to go photograph, how busy I am making puzzles, etc. that can be anywhere from every 5-10 days. I unpack it and put it on what was supposed to be a bunk bed. I store a few shipping boxes up there as well. Down below, behind the GF box, I have cut material stored away.

When the slide out is extended, I set up a small 4’ folding table that I do work on. I move the Rototrim on it to trim paper, move the shrink wrap sealer onto it, etc. I’ve started getting a process down that’s pretty efficient without having to move stuff back and forth.


The other side really only has the top bunk available with some cabinets. Underneath all of that is the spot for the outdoor kitchen. On that side, I have a desktop printer and the glue machine that stay in place. I just run the prints through up there. I have a 3D printer back there also - thought it might be beneficial for all kinds of little things on the road.

I also removed the little stairs that they had and used it for puzzle box storage. They fit nearly perfect in the cubby hole. I’m probably going to change to a flat pack box, rather than the rigid/setup boxes that I’m currently using. Those boxes take up a lot of room, and the only way I can get a decent price is to order 5-6+ cartons of them. And the boxes are huge.

I store boxes in the pass through storage near the front of the RV. I also store boxes underneath the fold out couch. And also in the large slideout drawers beneath the dinette seats lol.

Mostly, I accomplished my goal of having everything being separate from the main living area (behind a door). I didn’t want to be surrounded by work stuff all of the time. So the only thing I really do elsewhere is cut chipboard sheets down on my dinner table and also work from the laptop there (or outside, or wherever).


This is incredibly fascinating!I don’t know if you’ve shared this before, I’m guessing you haven’t, but it’s really cool to see into your world. Kind of bummed out you didn’t share where your dog hangs out, but hey, what you did show is amazing.

You’re living a dream, my friend! I’ve wanted to uproot everything like this and mover around a lot, but my wife isn’t as thrilled with the idea these days, not with us having a newborn, and eventually planning on having more. I guess there’s always time, though!


This was all fascinating to me, too. We have an RV, and though we don’t live in ours, I am familiar with the inner workings of one. Now, inquiring minds want to know…where the heck do you sleep if your bunk room is your traveling studio?


I don’t think I’ve shared any pics of the set up really. A few out the window shots with the Glowforge in the foreground.

As for Rio, he typically hangs out underneath my feet. :joy: We have a thing in Texas called the stingray shuffle (so you scare away stingrays when in the salt water, rather than step on them). I do a lot of that to avoid stepping on him!

The vast majority of the folks I meet are retired (a side benefit is that lots of them have ordered puzzles) but I’ve been pretty surprised at the number of younger families I’ve met that are doing this (full time) with very young ones in tow.

I have a queen bed in a front bedroom (I actually moved my residential mattress in there rather than the regular ol’ RV mattress). It’s a pretty nice set up actually - private bedroom in the front; dual entry bathroom (bedroom and living area) just off of that; living area (fold out couch, dining table, tv, kitchen); and then the office area is separate/private with a door. It’s actually really liveable.


This is neat to see! Thank you for sharing.


That sounds just perfect. I can picture it, now. Thanks


Is this something learned from experience? :hushed: Did you mask the phjoto at all?( how did you prevent smoke or char ont he photo - or did you cut “face down”?)


Anyone use the Xyron systems?

MUCH less expensive, but wonder how well they work…


Doesn’t seem like a bad little system so long as you stay in the size limitations. It’s been a long time since I spray glued a puzzle, so I can’t remember how many puzzles I could get out of a can. This looks like it’s about a buck per square foot.

Ok, looked up Super 77. They claim 220 square feet coverage. But in reality, you should be doing 2 coats, or spraying the print and the backing board. So call it 110 square feet. Lowe’s sells it for $10 apparently. So that’s what, 9 cents a square foot? I don’t remember my spray adhesive ever lasting that long though. That would be about 110 of my 10x15” puzzles and that’s nowhere near reality.

Daige used to make a hand roller for their Rollataq adhesive. They claim the cost of the Rollataq adhesive is 4 cents per square foot (and the Daige Maxit 70% less than that). I don’t see the hand applicator for sale anymore, but I bet one could find a roller out there somewhere.

You know what would really bug me about that? Having to order the glue cartridge - especially if you really needed it…