By Lee Krasnow
This instructable will guide you through all of the steps necessary to turn an ordinary table saw into a precision puzzlemaking machine.
Join me in this in-depth primer as I cover all of the key aspects of designing and building your own puzzlemaker's crosscutting sled like the one shown in this picture. I'll explain how to attach and calibrate special jigs and fixtures which allow you to cut wooden cubes accurate down to one thousandth of an inch.
From there I'll give you pointers on good gluing techniques, and then present you with ten fantastic puzzle designs which you can make on your own using the tools and skills covered here.
This primer will be the first in an ongoing series of puzzlemaking instructables -- each subsequent volume building upon lessons from the past ones, and each one using the puzzlemaker's crosscutting sled that I describe in this volume.
I've been getting a few emails from people wanting to know when I'll put out volume 2 of this series. I'm very glad to know some of you are finding this useful information, and please if you are eager for more of the same, then post some pictures of the puzzles that you've made from volume 1 of the primer!! Has anybody made all ten of them yet?
Step 1: Background information
As you can see in the above podcast, most of my work involves cutting and assembling small and strangely shaped pieces of wood. This alone is enough to dissuade most people from ever getting involved in puzzlemaking as a hobby -- accurately cutting small parts can be a challenging task for even the most seasoned woodworker.
Most workshop machinery is designed to accommodate larger pieces of material, and is often inadequate for working with components that are smaller than a few inches across. Pushing projects to the limits of our machine's working capabilities and our own skills of engineering and craftsmanship often result in hastily thrown together jigs and potentially dangerous situations. Not only will the extra time and money spent setting up accurate and dependable equipment pay for itself many times over in improved safety and ease of use, but you'll also be much more likely to get the quality of results you're hoping for if you've got good gear to work with.