Jigsaw puzzles were traditionally made by painting a picture on a flat piece of wood. A woodworker would then use a jigsaw to cut the board into smaller pieces. The puzzles became a commercial pastime in Europe around 1760, but, today, the jigsaws you find at a gift shop or toy store are made a bit differently to meet higher demand.
Take Ravensburger for example. The German toy maker has been manufacturing puzzles since 1891. Instead of working with wood, Ravensburger uses linen-embossed paper and cardboard. After the images are printed onto the paper, the paper is laminated onto the board.
At the same time, workers construct cutting dies that will create the jigsaw cuts. Artisans build the dies by attaching razor-sharp metal cutters to a laser-cut mounting plate.
The dies are then assembled in a puzzle-punching machine, which eventually stamps out each puzzle piece. The pieces are later separated, packaged and shipped off to distributors.
Surprisingly, not all puzzles, like those made by Ravensburger, are made the same. While some artisans continue to use traditional methods to create wooden jigsaw puzzles, others use X-ACTO knives to create custom paperboard puzzles or laser-cutting technology to ensure that no two pieces are alike.
Watch the video above to see how Ravensburger makes its puzzles.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this ‘impossibly difficult’ clear puzzle.
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