Dispatches from the front (Pre-Release Report) - Joyce Kilmer Edition

“I think I have never seen a 'forge as lovely as a tree…”

Okay, maybe that’s not how the poem goes. Been a long time since I sat in Mr Klinger’s American Lit class.

My daughter is wrapping up her first year at Elon University in Elon NC. A prominent feature of the campus and integral part of the school’s culture is the oak tree. Every student is given an acorn upon entry and an oak seedling when they graduate. Lot of symbology and history surrounding the trees in town and around campus.

She’s coming back for the summer in a couple of weeks so I thought I’d make something to recognize her first year.

Here’s a little puzzle made from solid maple, cherry and walnut Proofgrade. I thought it might be a nice technique to swap leaf parts between the woods.

First cut out the design from the PG. Standard cut settings for the pieces and a mix of medium and light engraves.

I’ve also cut out rectangles of 30pt chipboard. I’ll be gluing the outer frame of the puzzle to the chipboard so the pieces don’t run loose. Two of these show the results of flashback from too much power on the cut but I got it dialed in and since it’ll be glued I figured I’d use them anyway.

After weeding here’s what they look like. Maple:



They’re okay but I want a little pop. Switching the frames around and dropping contrasting acorns creates a nice looking alternative to the monolithic nature of the single species version.

The walnut frame, cherry leaves and maple acorn is my favorite. The walnut leaves don’t quite show enough contrast between the wood and the engrave. I may try a maple veneer inlay if I find myself running out of projects :grinning:

I am happy with how it’s turned out though and hope the girl appreciated what she’s accomplishing.


I was trying to decide which one that I liked the best , but they kept getting better. Then you swapped some parts for a stunning looking project. That is truly outstanding. :grinning:


That’s super cool.


Really nice!


Beautiful! Love the switch…it makes it! :smiley:


I tried swapping leaf parts but then it looked almost kaleidoscopic, juvenile even - more of a kid’s toy.


Cool idea—the color contrast of mixing & matching definitely takes these to the next level!




Dang, nice way to show of the wood. And we still need that fourth wood: definitely get some white oak for this. Maybe some day.


Beautifully done. I like the dark walnut as the frame…


You couldn’t make it in oak? :wink:


I love the making of multiple puzzles in different woods to have a variety of colors with no waste!


Great project. Good idea on the chipboard backer and on the mix-n-match look. I think you are right that mixing colors of the leaves themselves would have taken away from the elegant design of the way you did the mixing.


It’s gorgeous, and now she’s got two extra puzzles to share with friends! I hope it’s a small graduating class–you might get orders from everybody else in class!

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She will truly appreciate her efforts and those that see or receive will be very impressed.

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These look great! Is the little gap piece between the leaves’ stems connected to the acorn? I really want it to be the same wood as the border so the acorn has more definition. I assume it’s just an engraved line and not a cut, though. Excellent either way.


:grinning: Right now there’s no Proofgrade oak and I’ve got some quarter inch but not any 1/8" oak. I’ll have to see what my Woodcraft has. I hate planing a a board in half - seems like such a waste and I’m not up to re-sawing 1/8" slices off a thicker board. That whole scary bandsaw thing :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Yes it’s a separate piece. It’s something of an overlapping leaves treatment (so there’s a place to put the acorn) and that little piece is the space between the leaf stems. I agree that it looks a bit off so I’m going to swap it out with the frame wood. I want the acorn to be individually defined. Right now it looks like it has a tail (or is rooting :slightly_smiling_face:).


So beautiful

You were spot on. Here’s the final version with the spacer piece moved. Looks much better!


Definitely! So much better. I love it.