Photo puzzles, sooty fingers

Hi there,

This is my first post, so apologies if it’s in the wrong place, etc. I recently made a photo puzzle (I don’t have the picture on this computer - I’ll upload it later). I’m really happy with how it turned out, but the burnt edges of the puzzle pieces make your fingers look like you’ve been playing with charcoal instead of a puzzle.

High level, I took a picture, sent it off to be printed, then (using spray adhesive) attached it to some, uh, cardstock/mat stuff. Puzzle-thickness paper. Not sure what it’s called. I used the puzzle generator to create an SVG of the puzzle and printed it. All good.

Does anyone (My guess is that @jbmanning5 is a go-to resource) have suggestions on how to prevent sooty-fingers syndrome with puzzle play?

Thanks in advance

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i’m sure this is what @jbmanning5 will say (because i know he uses it): salt.

i’ve used it on several puzzles as well. salt in a box/bag with all the pieces. shake around some. the salt gets into the crevices and helps remove the soot. you’ll notice the salt turning a light brown. no rubbing, so it should be fine if you’ve protected the image with a finish (might be ok even if you didn’t, but i’ve always used varnish or modge podge). and if you leave it in the salt overnight, it should even help with the odor a little.


Salt (I use pool salt since I can get it anywhere and it’s like 5-6 bucks for a 40lb bag). Plus the larger grains clean just as well but don’t leave a powder residue (you still don’t want to clean them too long. I do 30 seconds of tumbling for each puzzle). And then I clean a max of 1,000 pieces with the same mix of salt before tossing it and using new salt)


An IKEA kitchen utensil holder thing, let’s you shake the salt out and keep the pieces contained/safe


If you don’t have an IKEA kitchen thing with holes, one could make a pattern of circles and cut holes in an extra Tupperware lid, put that on after you’re done tumbling and just shake the salt out into another container.


Thank you! So helpful. Really appreciate you sharing. Chipboard cuts nicely, but too messy.

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Any carbon-based product is going to have residue left over; it’s the nature of being carbon-based. The thicker chipboard (I use .08") is just going to have char. The nice thing though, is that it’s only surface level - 30 seconds of cleaning (for a whole puzzle)and you can’t even tell it is laser cut (as far as dark/shaded edges, etc.)


Exactly. I hadn’t investigated the how to clean off the soot part.

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You also have a box maker in the form of a Glowforge that way you can control everything.

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That is fantastic, thank you so much for sharing! My son loved doing a puzzle of himself and his sister. It was a serious Dad-win.

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