Puzzle 823 - The World

By Custom Puzzle Craft

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Puzzle 823 - The World
Poster provided by customer

Puzzle 823, The World, was the last customer puzzle I made before beginning a long break from accepting orders. This a truly massive puzzle, about 33 1/2" x 22 1/4" in size, 1384 pieces, over 80 figurals and extensive color line cutting along most country borders.

As it happened (from my Journal archives)

January 12, 2009

Monday 5:14 pm - This morning I trimmed the print for The World, and dropped it and the board off for mounting. Spent about 25 minutes at the reprographics shop while they figured out what to charge me (place had been bought out by a larger company, new people there).

Tomorrow I'll print the extensive set of figural templates for The World, and then go to the shop to do some practice initial cutting of the "bad mount board" of The World, also test the paper for how it handles regarding my usual method of mounting figurals. I expect to start production cutting of The World on Wednesday. The puzzle will take a solid week of work - the work may be spread out over a longer period of time. 2016 Edit: took much longer, grossly underestimated the time.

The huge mounted board for The World - the white border will be trimmed off.

January 14, 2009

Wednesday 5:16 pm - I did the first initial cut of the practice board, a harrowing experience with some problems due to attempting to navigate amongst narrow spaces between figurals and shorelines. I plan to adjust the positions of several figurals for the production puzzle. I'm glad I had a "bad mount" for practice - I uncovered severe problems with using my drafting tape for figural mounts - ink reactions. This means I have to go to a "mount figurals from the edges" approach - a much more difficult method of mounting figurals on large boards - but the only option I have. Tomorrow I have a second and last test cut to make on the practice board. I now expect to have started production cutting by the end of this weekend.

January 15, 2009

Thursday 9:44 pm - I made two more initial cuts on the practice board. The accuracy I achieved color line cutting part of a huge section on the Excalibur 30" was vastly inferior than the level of accuracy I obtained later with a smaller section on my Hegner 18". I need to figure out a way to do initial cutting completely within the water bodies (my plan was to include parts of the coastline of Australia and clc across South Africa) but the practice execution was not acceptable as I was forced to use the Excalibur. I tried super slow speeds, but the result still was not acceptable. Meanwhile the production board that I had mounted by a service bureau has warped with all the dry heat we are having - so I've put that board in my largest press, with lots of weight, and will keep it there until Saturday. Tomorrow I'll do some more prep work, adjusting the positions of some figurals on a digital guidance map, and then print a new set of templates. I'll also finalize the projected paths for the initial cutting. If the production board is not acceptably flattened by my press by Saturday morning I'll have to moisten the back of the board and put it back into the press until Monday. If not fixed Monday, well let's not think about that. I've only made one other puzzle this large and that one had very large grid style pieces, certainly no color line cutting - was a breeze to make. This puzzle will be the hardest one I've ever made from a logistical point of view, and as usual, priced about 2-3x lower than what I should be charging. But I'm happy that this is the last customer puzzle of the year!

January 17, 2009

Saturday 7:34 pm - As for #823, The World, except for checking the board in the press I've done nothing since Thursday. Yesterday morning, the warping of the production board was substantially reduced - I moisten the back side and put the the board back in the press where it still resides. I will complete the figural prep work tomorrow and I plan to do some initial cutting.

January 18, 2009

Sunday 6:47 pm - Cutting of #823, The World, is finally underway! This afternoon I completed the figural preparations and adjustments and finalized the paths of the initial cuts. I realized I had forgotten to place a "NonaCurl" (picture when cut) and this required rejiggering the location of other figurals. Late this afternoon I completed the first of four planned initial cuts, harrowing as usual. Also as usual, low precision and relatively sloppy, but when the detail cutting gets underway, I'm be pretty good at hiding where the initial cuts took place.

Tomorrow I plan to spend a rather substantial amount of time at the shop, completing the initial cutting and starting work on one of the five major sections. I'll have some "in progress" photos in the coming days.

January 19, 2009

Monday 6:15 pm - Did about four hours of work today on #823, The World. I completed all of the initial cutting and started work on one of the five sections - the southwest portion of the map which includes South America. My plan for each section is to completely color line cut the outlines of the land masses, subdivide the ocean sections and do the outer border. After this is done for all five sections I'll figure out a rough idea of how many pieces each section should have, with keeping the total goal at around 1200 pieces. After this is done I'll clc all the countries, then do all of the country figurals. Finally I'll do all of the ocean figurals and then detail cut all of the ocean pieces. Some countries will be combined into single pieces, and various solutions will be reached for island groupings. I figure about two weeks of work at this time.

So far I've done the edges for the one section, clc'd South America, the Map's legend, and subdivided the ocean into about a half dozen sections. Tomorrow I start work on a second section.

Puzzle #823 - South America
The tiny piece is Costa Rica & Panama
The smaller blue piece to the right will be cut into about three pieces eventually

The wonderful San Diego Sunset Machine continues. A really nice one today.

Today's sunset - I had to do a bunch of work in Photoshop to get the intense blue that was really there, contrasting with the clouds.

January 20, 2009

Tuesday 5:22 pm - No puzzle work today, primarily due to the inauguration of the 44th President of these United States, Obama. Nice to have someone in there who can speak complete sentences in clear English!

Puzzle work will resume tomorrow.

January 21, 2009

Wednesday 11:23 pm - Spent about five hours at the shop today. I completed first pass work on two more of the five original sections - the northwest sections, including central and north American, and the southeast section, including most of Antarctica and Australia - the major land masses are clc'd, plus the border is completed. Tomorrow I work on the sections covering Europe, Russia, Mideast, Africa and Asia. After this is done I'll come up with puzzle piece allocation counts and then start clc'ing the individual countries. Then I'll start working on country figurals.

I had to make a many arbitrary decisions regarding what water bodies to include as part of Canada
Some long prongs like the southeast extension of Alaska and Baja Mexico are bound to break
Need to contact the customer for reconsideration of guidance.

The piece to the left is part of Antarctica

January 22, 2009

Thursday 4:44 pm - Spent another five hours at the shop today. I did most of the first pass of the fourth section - doing Africa, mainland Europe and western Russia (Russia was subdivided during the third initial cut). I still had Greenland to do in one of the sections I erroneously said I completed first pass work yesterday - this I did today. Tomorrow I'll address some loose ends - I still have some minor "nuisance" islands to do within the first four sections: Iceland, Madagascar, U.K., etc. (joke here, the customer is from the U.K.). I also need to do the Mediterranean Sea and several smaller seas within the Europe chunk before going ahead with the fifth section which includes the rest of Russia, China and a whole bunch of smaller coastal countries and lots of island groups. I also plan to go back and clc some of the water boundaries in northern Canada, and I may clc the Great Lakes.

After 13 consecutive days of 70 plus temperatures, cooler, wetter weather is predicted. I was reading that this is the first time such a long warm streak has occurred here in a January, with over 150 years of weather data.

January 24, 2009

Saturday 9:40 am - Did about four more hours of cutting yesterday, still have a lot of work in Southeast Asia before I start clc'ing all of the individual countries. I may get in some cutting today, plan more on Sunday.

Saturday 6:10 pm - I didn't get to the shop today, I do plan to do some cutting tomorrow.

January 25, 2009

Sunday 5:35 pm - Did about four hours of work today. I completed the first pass work within the Southeast Asia section, clc'ing Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc. After this was done I started some second pass work, clc'ing the individual countries in Central America (some very tiny ones paired up), and all of the countries within South America. Tomorrow I'll work on the complicated northern Canada section - clc'ing some of the water bodies / land sections, then move on to the countries within Africa and if I have time, Europe. I expect to have all countries done by Tuesday afternoon. After that I'll do all of the figurals contained within countries (there are about two dozen, most are in the oceans and these will be done). After the country figurals are done, I'll work out piece count estimates for the various ocean segments and the major countries to be subdivided.

January 26, 2009

Monday 10:29 pm - Put in a fairly long day today, about six hours of intense cutting. Color line cutting takes continuous focus, and finally I'm nearing the end of this phase. Today I did northern Canada, all of Africa, the Mideast, all of mainland Asia (for example all of the "-stan" countries, Mongolia, etc. At around 5pm I ran out of time due to a pending dance class, I ended up putting off Europe to last - I got Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland , Germany and Denmark done, and the Scandinavian Peninsula done - just have a small section of Europe to complete and then all countries are done.

The next phase will be country figurals and working out the piece count estimates for all of the sections, working towards 1200.

Intricate color line cutting - the larger pieces will be subdivided using my cutting styles

Africa - completed (except for figurals)

All counties here clc'd except a couple islands to be "knob cut"
I'll finish Europe tomorrow morning or early afternoon

January 27, 2009

Tuesday 4:47 pm - I was at the shop for about four hours today - completed the color line cutting of country boundaries, and then started cutting "land based figurals". Also some of the larger counties are to be cut up into smaller pieces. I did the United States (27 Swirl Curl pieces including 4 figurals), Australia (25 Long Round pieces including 2 figurals), and the map's legend - 20 Grid Line style pieces (emulating a classic Milton Bradley Big Ben style that I particularly like).

Cutting of country figurals and the cutting up of larger countries resumes tomorrow.

Grid Line cutting with external Earlet connectors per request of the customer

Tuesday 9:13 pm - I couldn't connect to the server earlier today to post the afternoon entry - just now posted it.

January 28, 2009

Wednesday 11:57 pm - Another four hours or so of work on the massive puzzle #823 - The World.

Alaska with Moose "drop in" figural.
Note - all pictures here show pieces uncleaned of residue from the mounting material, also no pieces have been sanded

Canada is done (about 77 Long Round pieces)

Creative style puzzle piece from #697 Spectra 2
Customer wanted some pieces like this around the Bermuda Triangle
I decided the Bermuda Triangle was too small - developed an exploratory cutting style the based on the piece for Greenland

Greenland cut in my new "Crystal" cutting style (could use some more development and formalization)
Just a matter of time before Just Ducky Puzzles comes out with a similar style name "Ice"

Greenland (distorted due to the Map Projection used)
Cut in Crystal cutting style with Igloo and Polar Bear figurals

This puzzle should be vastly more expensive then I'm charging, I am keeping track of all my time and am going to come up with a "what it should have been" price when I'm done.

Tomorrow I have Argentina and Brazil to go to finish internal country cutting in the Western Hemisphere, then I'll move to Europe and Africa. Russia will be cut in larger pieces, Creative style, China in Creative, small pieces. Actually I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow for a checkup right in the middle of the day, not sure how much cutting I'll actually get in as I also need to catch up on "dance notes".

January 30, 2009

Friday 6:27 pm - No cutting yesterday. Today spent at least six hours at the shop and got quite a bit more done, continuing to work on #823, The World. I cut "drop in" figurals for Argentina, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, India and in a substantial effort, cut up Brazil, China and Russia. Russia had over 100 pieces, China and Brazil 20-25 each. My camera had problems focusing today, only a few pictures came out.

Argentina with "drop in" figural, Brazil cut in Swirl Curl with "Bee" (containing the letter B) and "Redeemer" figurals

Russia (prior to being cut in Creative style)
Hammer and Sickle, grid puzzle piece, AK47 Assault Rifle, Scull & Cross Bones
OK - Russia is a great country - just some legacy fears being expressed here!

I didn't quite get all of the countries done. I was going to cut "IZ NAICE" within Kazakhstan (at customer request). However, earlier I had clc'd the Aral Sea, forgetting that I had designed the text to run through the sea in order to fit. So now have to redesign the placement of the text. Also need to do Antarctica. I expect to complete this work tomorrow, plus count the pieces I've cut so far (get a rough estimate) and then prorate 1200 minus the number of pieces I've cut so far over the world's oceans in proportion to the large ocean hunks that need to be cut up. There are just a few islands left to do, Cuba being the biggest one, the rest will likely be "knob" cuts. Of course I had no plans to have this puzzle go into February, but February it is. I expect to complete the puzzle next week.

When I start work on the Oceans, I'll do all of the figurals including the grid puzzle pieces and the Hexel set, before cutting up the individual pieces.

January 31, 2009

Saturday 6:00 pm - No cutting today, will resume tomorrow.

February 1, 2009

Sunday 2:49 pm - I was at the shop for about three hours, then left to watch the Superbowl which will be starting soon. I did Antarctica, but Kazakhstan is on hold as I forgot to redesign the text pieces. After Antarctica, I went through a fairly methodical analysis of the 27 ocean sections to come up with a puzzle piece estimate. I figure I've cut about 530 pieces so far and the Oceans will have around 720 pieces, bringing the puzzle to around 1250 pieces - not that far off from the original goal of 1200 pieces. Note to customer: I will eventually post some "initial cut" pictures.

Starting tomorrow, the pace will greatly accelerate from a puzzle piece count perspective, my goal is to have the puzzle done by Thursday or Friday.

Puzzle 823 - Land with the uncut water sections carefully removed

Ocean sections, assembled

Ocean sections with associated figural sections
Lots of logistics here

February 2, 2009

Monday 5:00 pm - I remembered incorrectly the estimated number of Ocean pieces for #823, The World. Yesterday I said 720, the correct figure is about 785 for a total of over 1300 pieces. Today I was at the shop for about six hours, I hoped to get at least a quarter of the ocean done, but I ended up getting about exactly one fifth. Cutting is slower for three reasons - a request for indirect interlocking edges (almost all will be), a request that no two adjacent letters of ocean names appear in the same puzzle piece and that some of the figurals are very complicated to cut. Cutting is going well and will continue tomorrow.

Here are some more pictures:

Giza pyramid complex as a drop in figural within Egypt with enhanced rays at the top of the tallest pyramid
United States "Eagle with Shield" figural (in ocean, white here due to lighting)

Portion of oceans completed today

Detail shot of Northwestern portion

February 3, 2009

Tuesday 5:23 pm - Certainly one of the toughest days of cutting I can recall - lots of complex figurals, crowded figurals, logistics to keep the templates in place, etc. The "Hexel" set is very hard to cut (will have pictures), sometimes I just wanted to walk away from it all! I cut one of the seven yesterday, two today, four more to go. The first three hours, very hard, maybe got 60 pieces done, then around 80 pieces in the second half of cutting, time wise. Tomorrow should be easier and perhaps I'll make up for the ground lost today. The 5-ply Appleply is definitely harder to cut than the 4-ply Finland Birch. Blades wears out faster and can become stubborn quite quickly.

Just before I started cutting, a bird flew into the shop and could not figure out how to get out, despite a wide open door - it wanted to stay at ceiling level. I eventually gave up trying to get it out, and started cutting - with the bird occasionally chirping and flying around. About an hour later it finally left.

House finch in shop
Not very smart when it comes to solving some problems

One of many challenging figurals

Puzzle 823 - The World - latest progress.

February 4, 2009

Wednesday 8:55 pm - At the shop for more than six hours - progress still going slowly - with about the same number of pieces cut as yesterday - 140-145. Looks like I'll complete the puzzle on Saturday. Then I have a difficult task of turning the puzzle over for sanding - lots of push fit pieces - I think I'm going to build a "work frame" for the puzzle. I've been adding a few scattered Creative pieces in the Oceans per customer request - the Oceans are going to be very difficult to assemble in areas away from the coastlines and the edges of figurals. The International Date Line is done - color line cut with Earlet connectors - the Date Line complicated the indirect edge interlock effort - one very thin segment had to be direct connected. Lots of excellent cutting here, the puzzle is beginning to look quite spectacular. Cutting continues to go very well, although I did have one accident, a piece got away from me in the saw and cracked, it is OK now.

Due to dance class commitments, I'll likely get about four hours of work in tomorrow.

This month's 100 Puzzles Project auction - Number 86 - was scheduled to start this Friday (Puzzle #822 Snow Tree) - I've pushed this auction back to Monday, February 9th, due to far longer time it is taking me to get The World done than originally estimated.

Puzzle 823 - The World - latest progress.
I also have to do the Mediterranean Sea and that super small difficult "IZ NAICE" word piece complex within Kazakhstan

February 5, 2009

Thursday 11:01 pm - No cutting today; resumes tomorrow.

February 6, 2009

Friday 5:30 pm - I'm approaching the home stretch for puzzle #823, The World! Spent another six hours or so at the shop and cut around 150 pieces. I noticed that the pictures of my progress seemed to indicate a faster rate of progress than indicated by the piece counts. Now I know why. One section which I had counted at being a projected 67 pieces was really just 7 pieces (misread my handwriting when I added up the counts), so my count was off by 60, this brings the projected total piece count back into the 1200's. Cutting continues to go very well. I wish I didn't have to say this but I got a little bit of glue on a piece while fixing one of the very few paper lifts in this puzzle - normally I'd wipe it off with a clean rag, but it wouldn't come off so I left it there, concerned that I'd remove the ink on the print which would be far worse. A remainder this puzzle is being created by a human and not a laser or water jet.

I expect to complete the puzzle Sunday as I will not get a lot of cutting in tomorrow.

Puzzle 823 - The World - latest progress.

Detail of the South East corner - with a few Creative pieces thrown in
The International Date Line (red line to the right) is color line cut with a few Earlet interlocks

Some of the figurals cut today
The Star of David (an intricate piece to cut) was cut without drop-outs per customer request

February 7, 2009

Saturday 6:08 pm - Another four hours at the shop, and more progress made. I cut just 60 pieces or so, slowed down by the very procedurally challenging "Nona-Curl" complex, requested by the customer at my suggestion - nine long spiral pieces which end at a common point. This and a bust of the Queen of England were the last of the challenging figurals, except I still have one "Hexel" piece to go (will have more about "Hexels" after they are done).

Queen of England - placed over the Falkland Islands at the customer's request

Nona-Curl complex
Further complicated by the fact that no two adjacent pieces of the spiral complex interlock

Puzzle 823 - The World - latest progress.

I expect to complete the cutting tomorrow. Monday will be spent figuring out how to flip the puzzle for sanding, doing the sanding and applying a couple coats of Tung oil. Tuesday pack up and ship.

February 8, 2009

Sunday 6:26 - Cutting for the humongous, stupendous, gigantic, difficult, ambitious, grueling, massive, Brobdingnagian, challenging puzzle #823, The World, is done at last!

Around 4:45 pm, I had just one piece to go, that "IZ NAICE" drop-in piece within the country of Kazakhstan, and being tired I was tempted to put it off until tomorrow, but after a short break and a fresh blade, I went for it, and cut it perfectly - being very slow and deliberate in the process due the extreme nature of the piece. Put in 4-5 hours of work today.

Tomorrow I plan to figure out just how much time I put into this puzzle, also continue working on it as I need to sand and apply tung oil, take lots of pictures, disassemble it, inspect and clean, count the pieces, carefully box, pack and ship - two more days of work. I may take tomorrow off and push the two days to Tuesday and Wednesday. Year 2016 note: Alas the total time to cut number has been lost to history.

Sometimes I use a "ball connector" for joining word pieces
The pen shows just how delicate the cutting is

Puzzle 823 - The World - cutting completed.

Puzzle 823 - The World - back side - flipped to appear as if from the front

February 10, 2009

Tuesday 3:38 pm - At the shop for about three hours today, beginning the wrap up phase for Puzzle #823, The World. Turning over the puzzle turned out to be a non-event. Since it was already assembled on a board separate from my main workshop assembly board, all I had to do was place the workshop assembly board upside down on top of the puzzle with the board's lips along the puzzle's edges and flip it. I sanded the puzzle with 220 grit, vacuumed, 300 grit, vacuumed, finally 600 grit and vacuumed. Flipped it, dusted the front, flipped it again and then applied two coats of tung oil. The back looks really nice. Official puzzle size 33 7/16" by 22 7/32".

I'll let the puzzle dry over night and ship it tomorrow. I do have several other things I have to do besides puzzle stuff, and as taking photographs, disassembling, counting, inspecting, more photos, etc. will take quite a bit of time, the puzzle might ship Thursday, but certainly no later!

February 12, 2009

Thursday (corrected from "Friday") 6:09 pm - I just shipped the puzzle, unbelievable but true, this huge project is done! Tomorrow I plan to sleep a lot, auction will start late tomorrow afternoon. When I'm rested, I'll get the various tables and puzzle pages up to date. Also will have more pictures of The World. About eight hours of work today; very little yesterday, just took some pictures.

Final piece count 1384.

Here is a picture of the huge figural set - will have commentary later.

The World - Massive figural and special piece sets

February 13, 2009

Friday 8:09 pm - I finally got this month's auction launched after a long day of catching up with record keeping and getting my overdue state taxes done for this business. The auction link is here. I'll get around to updating the other normal link areas later.

Friday 11:10 am - Yesterday I mentioned that I did little on Wednesday - actually I did sand the back of the puzzle again, this time with "0000" steel wood and vacuumed, I then brought the puzzle home, still assembled.

Here is a picture of the "Hexel set" assembled. This is a cool puzzle within a puzzle. With lasers or water jets this puzzle within a puzzle could be cut to fit very precisely.

Puzzle #823 - Hexel Set assembled

These "Hexels" pieces each have six connectors, two of three kinds - "cleverly designed" so the each end is either male or female so to speak. These are a challenge to cut, I'd say each piece took 15 minutes to cut partly due to the fact that the templates were not attached directly to the cutting area. I have figured out that given a restriction of six connectors with two each of three kinds of connectors, and excluding rotation there are 16 possible designs for a given piece. My Hexel puzzle has 7 of the 16. There are at least several solutions to this little puzzle, it would require a mathematician to figure out how many different solutions there are. Also, here's a question for the puzzle world, for which I do not have an answer..... Is it possible to select 7 of the 16 possible pieces that can be designed such that there is only one solution? May someday I'll design a 13 piece Hexel puzzle in the form of a six pointed star.

In The World, the seven Hexel pieces are scattered about the puzzle. I took some "perspective" pictures of the puzzle for my files, here's one showing a location of a Hexel.

Puzzle #823 - The World - South Africa with Hexel between the Queen Mary II and a Creative piece

The World
Date Completed
February 8, 2009
33 7/16" x 22 7/32"
Cutting Style
# Pieces
Color Line Cutting
Very extensive - all but a few very, very small countries
Over 100 Special Pieces, including 80+ figurals, 7 piece Hexel set, 9 piece Nona-Curl.

© John S. Stokes III - Puzzle Crafter & Webmaster

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