Our Process

Perhaps the most common questions we’re asked at Smyth Puzzles come from puzzlers curious to know just how our puzzles are crafted. We take pride in our techniques, and we’re happy to offer a glimpse into our work! Please feel free to let us know if you have any further questions about our crafting process.

Step 1 - Printing
First, we prepare a high-quality print of the new puzzle’s picture, either one of the many images from our catalog or a personalized one provided as part of a custom order. For smaller puzzles, the printing is handled in our studio, while large-format orders may need to be contracted out.

Step 2 - Mounting
Next, the print is mounted to a sheet of quarter-inch plywood backing. Sourced from within Ontario, the wood backing ensures that the puzzle is made to last. It also features a native cherry veneer finish, making each piece a thing of beauty from the front and back alike. Assembled together with protective and adhesive layers, the sheets are heated in an enormous dry-mount press to permanently fuse the image to the wood backing. Each puzzle must bear the heat of the press for 15 minutes to fuse, followed by another half-hour of cooling.

Step 3 - Trimming
Once the fused puzzle “blank” comes out of the press, we trim the outer edges to the borders of the image, then gently sand and smooth any corners. Now it's time to cut your puzzle!

Step 4 - Cutting
Puzzle master Mary Lee Smyth hand-cuts each puzzle on an electric scroll saw, with an extra-fine blade employed to ensure that the cut pieces retain a tight, satisfying fit. Mary Lee’s experience and skill guides each cut, with complex designs inspired by the contours of the image, devious tricks and traps laid for the unsuspecting puzzler, and custom whimsy pieces carefully interwoven into the mix.

Step 5 - Finishing
Once your puzzle is cut, the edges are sanded with the most delicate of touches to remove any raw edges without harming the fit. The wood backing is finished with two coats of naturally-made beeswax polish to bring out the satin beauty of the cherry veneer.

Step 6 - Shipping
At last, your puzzle goes through a final check and is carefully packed in one of our distinctive, magnetically-latched keepsake boxes with a personalized label. It’s then packed for shipping and sent straight to you via Canada Post!