Types of Jigsaw
So you think a jigsaw is a jigsaw is a jigsaw â€“ think again! No doubt you
already know that the subject matter varies enormously (from Star Wars to
country cottages) but read on to discover more about the numerous different
sorts of jigsaw puzzle.
New Cardboard Jigsaws
These are the backbone of the current jigsaw market â€“ no self-respecting
bookshop or toyshop is without them. The diversity of both the subject matter
and the degree of difficulty is enormous. Present day manufacturers and
retailers deserve to be complimented on their ability to provide wonderful
The jigsaw on the right is one of the W.H. Smith Exclusive Collection puzzles.
There are several different manufacturers of puzzle and literally thousands of
images to choose from â€“ and often for under Â£10.00 each.
Old Cardboard Jigsaws
Cardboard puzzles started appearing in the 1930's but these were of very dubious
quality. Waddingtons perfected the dye cutting processes in the 1950's and along
with Tower Press (manufacturing for Boots, British Home Stores, Woolworths and
W.H. Smith) they dominated the field for 40 years thereafter. You can rely on
the quality of any puzzle bearing the Waddington or Tower Press name but
remember that when you buy one from a car boot sale you can never be sure all
the pieces are there until you have completed it.
Modern Wooden Jigsaws
In 1987 a new tool was added to the jigsaw cutters armoury â€“ the laser cutter.
This dramatically speeds up the production process and excellent quality wooden
puzzles are now produced without the need for hours of work by skilled
craftsmen. A downside to the technology is that the machinery required costs
anything up to Â£100,000.
There is still a buoyant market for wooden jigsaws cut in the traditional manner
and several skilled cutters have full order books. True jigsaw aficionados will
tell you that puzzles cut in this way fit a little more tightly together than
laser cut ones and then there is the added charm in the knowledge that each
puzzle is truly unique.
The beautiful hand-cut puzzle on the right was made by Sara White â€“ a delightful
Oxfordshire lady. It contains 1,050 pieces including 34 whimsies in the form of
A child's first introduction to jigsaws is likely to be a "Floor puzzle". This
usually takes the form of huge, thick pieces that are colourful enough to
attract and retain the interest of the toddler and at the same time durable
enough to withstand impact from small feet and bottoms.
There was once a very well meaning nursery school teacher who insisted that
every child fit a piece of the school jigsaw in place before he or she went home
each night. The story goes that the jigsaw was finished in record time but none
of the children ever did a jigsaw again! If jigsaws are to work as a teaching
aid they must first and foremost be FUN â€“ education happens with jigsaws but
maybe itâ€™s best to keep this at the subliminal level.
Jigsaws that feature maps, famous people and identification of plants and
animals all make good subjects for children to learn whilst at the same time
Three Dimensional Jigsaws
Three-dimensional puzzles are enjoyed by the small band of people who fall into
the category of "Hobby constructors". Some people love them and others hate
them. Try a 3D by all means but if you can, borrow one before you buy one.
Fiendishly Difficult Modern Jigsaws
These basically come in two different guises â€“ a great quantity of pieces and/or
an extremely repetitious design, like a plate of beans. Likewise their uses are
twofold: firstly for extreme jigsaw enthusiasts who feel they need to do just
one and secondly as presents for people you hate!
Old Wooden Jigsaws
Until the advent of the laser cutter (see above) all wooden puzzles were cut
using either hand-held, treadle or electric saws. It is interesting to note that
the puzzle cutters did not work to a definite pattern for each jigsaw, rather
they relied upon their own skill to ensure a variety of shapes and sizes for
individual pieces. The cut and quality of these old wooden puzzles varies
enormously and it is advisable to spend a little time researching the subject
before buying any expensive ones. Tom Tylerâ€™s book "The English Jigsaw Puzzle"
(ISBN 0903685566) would be a good place to start.
Back to our
Jigsaw Puzzle Info. page.