Christmas Presents 2011 - Name Puzzles

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Project by Karson posted 12-18-2011 04:32 AM 3222 views 5 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought that I’d make some name puzzles this year. I probably have made them for my children, many years ago – but I don’t remember seeing them in the last 25 years. My two younger children don’t have any and my grandchildren don’t have any.

These were items that I made over 40 years ago when I lived in St. Louis. They were a great seller and paid for all of my woodworking equipment and other “Man Toys”

I made them out of Red Cedar because 1) it was readily available – A sawmill in St Louis cut only Cedar. 2) It was easy to cut, 3) It was easy to sand. 4) It smelled good and 5) I didn’t have to finish it because – #4.

My family didn’t see me between Thanksgiving and Christmas because I was making puzzles. I’d sit in the house with a stack of orders, A stack of wood and my alphabet (see picture 1). The sawmill cut all of their boards at 6” wide (at least the ones that I bought) My caps were 3” tall and the lower case letters were 2” tall. All of the lower case were my own design. I needed them chunky to be able to cut the interlocking parts of the letters.

I’ve made many as wedding presents where I’d interlock a big heart as I connected the two names.

The problem with making two names is finding a way to interlock them. Hopefully you have tall lower case letters that could be used to hold the upper name and to lock to it. (I, h,b,d,f,t).

If you look at the second picture, you see that Kevin is supported off only two letters in the lower name. To put Kevin on the bottom gives no additional tall letters. If you can see the trailing letters of Kevins name is sagging because of the saw kerf. What I’ll do to fix that is take a small piece of wood and glue it on the interlocking piece of the “V” where it fits into the “I”. That will take the sag out.

The third picture has some additional tall letters, but it required me to give a small amount of additional space between the letters of the upper name and to spread them out to hit all of my anchor points.

On single layer names, I don’t have that kind of problem. The saw I used in St. Louis was a Sears (Craftsman) 80” bandsaw. I welded my own bandsaw blades and I used 1/16” 32 teeth metal cutting blades. I could almost run it into a cut and then turn the wood around and bring the blade back out the same cut. The blades were very fragile. I would get maybe 1 hr life before the blade would shatter into 50 pieces because of metal fatigue. I would usually weld up about 20 blades at a time, some of those were rewelds where the weld would break before metal fatigue would set in. I was buying salvage bandsaw blades in 100’ coils I also went through a bunch of 1/8” blades also when I was cutting puzzles in 2” thick maple.

I was charging 75 cents a letter and I was getting about $25.00 per hour. I was pretty fast in my processing. That included the drawing on the boards, cutting and sanding all cut edges. I drilled the centers of a, o,b,d. The capital letters had a small hole and a jigsaw to cut out the middle of those letters.

I’m not as fast any more. I figure I’d probably need $3.00 a letter to do them now.

A car mfg approached me to made them for every dealer of their car. I don’t remember the promotion but I did make them a master that they then used to cast them out of plastic.I was always thinking of faster and easier ways of doing this. I approached a Mfg of Lasers, before they were popular. But the cutting is by burning and I didn’t want black edges on the letters.

So this year I’m back in business for about 20 names. My wife keeps dropping new names on my list for some of her contacts.

I need to remake 2 names because of splits in my wood and wain that I didn’t notice when I drew the names. But I’m retired, I’ve got the time.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

19 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 5174 days

#1 posted 12-18-2011 04:48 AM

Good looking letters and an interesting story.

Merry Christmas!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View lew's profile


13534 posts in 5216 days

#2 posted 12-18-2011 04:55 AM

Nice work, Santa!!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5546 days

#3 posted 12-18-2011 04:55 AM

Nice, Karson! They’ll love those! All the best things take time.


View Grandpa's profile


3265 posts in 4136 days

#4 posted 12-18-2011 04:59 AM

Great job and good gifts. Thanks for the story. Merry Christmas

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5205 days

#5 posted 12-18-2011 05:55 AM

Folks like gift best that you make personally. Thanks for the story and the good idea. Merry Christmas.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5513 days

#6 posted 12-18-2011 05:57 AM


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24641 posts in 5137 days

#7 posted 12-18-2011 08:12 AM

Looks great form here! Nice work.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5441 days

#8 posted 12-18-2011 02:03 PM

Hi Karson,

That was a good idea. I imagine they would be very good sellers.

Very nice work.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4265 days

#9 posted 12-18-2011 02:59 PM

very kool gifts

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4328 days

#10 posted 12-18-2011 03:10 PM

Karson, you did a wonderfful job on these and they will make wgreat Christmas presents.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4652 days

#11 posted 12-18-2011 04:46 PM

Karson, that is a unique way of making them.
I am slow and it took me awhile to figure out
that they are true puzzle pieces.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5538 days

#12 posted 12-18-2011 07:11 PM

looks like a good retirement business…!! But its nice its for the kids…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1381 posts in 5460 days

#13 posted 12-19-2011 02:42 AM

Hi buddy,

Great story, glad to hear you’re making some great gifts and making some cash also. Bob


-- Bob A in NJ

View Grumpy's profile


26811 posts in 5312 days

#14 posted 12-19-2011 02:44 AM

Very time consuming buddy but well worth the effort.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5109 days

#15 posted 12-19-2011 04:28 PM

these are great Karson!

I love the heartwood/sapwood line in the ‘Savannah’ puzzle.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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