How are your puzzles made?
Our quality heirloom puzzles are made out of ¼" thick, 5-ply African Okoume wood. A highly skilled cutter studies the customer's puzzle request and then designs detailed "special pieces" to suit each individual puzzle and customer. Using a scroll saw with a very fine blade, each puzzle is cut by hand, piece by piece using all the clever techniques each cutter has mastered over decades of experience to create an interesting puzzle. Not only is every puzzle completely unique, every piece of every puzzle is completely unique. All puzzles are then sanded, waxed, counted, and boxed. We pride ourselves in treating each puzzle with great care. Be sure to look for each cutter's signature piece in your puzzle!
What are special pieces?
Within each puzzle, the cutters take great delight and thought into creating "special pieces," or silhouette shapes that enhance the experience of a puzzle. Special pieces may include personalization (names & dates) but also include shapes such as flowers, animals, buildings, and hobby interests etc. You'll be delighted by the wide array of possibility and detail for special pieces! We can include approximately 5 special pieces for every 100 pieces in a puzzle.
Can a puzzle be made easy or difficult?
Yes! While the image itself affects the puzzle difficulty, we take great pride in challenging even the most experienced puzzler: color line cutting, edge pieces that don't look like edge pieces, corners that seem not to be there, all add to the puzzling experience.
Are all puzzles straight sided?
Not necessarily. We strive to make all puzzles interesting so when a puzzle lends itself to creating an irregular edge we go for it. An example would be a butterfly with the puzzle being cut around the actual shape of the butterfly itself. Or a still life where we have cut around the bowl of fruit and the vase of flowers.
Another option is where a straight border may have what we call an "executive edge." That's when we create either an extension of an image to go beyond its borders. Or we may add additional pieces outside of a traditional border that adds visual excitement and puzzling pleasure and challenge.
Can you replace a lost or damaged piece?
Yes, with great care and skill. To do so, we require the surrounding pieces of the missing or damaged piece to remain together. This creates a 'frame' around the area that allows us to recreate a piece. As it is labor intensive, we charge $79 per piece to do so. You can place an order for a replacement piece here.
About Ordering a Custom Puzzle
What does it cost to have a puzzle made?
Our hand-cut puzzles range from $98.95 for a 75 piece puzzle up to $3,889.95 for a 1,200 piece puzzle.
What sizes are the puzzles?
Our sizes range from 75 pieces to 1200 pieces and anywhere in between. The size is generally anywhere from 5" x 7" to 20" x 24", depending upon the artwork. We can easily increase or decrease the size of the image to create a puzzle to fit your needs. Generally speaking, our artisans cut approximately 2 pieces per square inch of puzzle.
Help! My puzzle did not come with a picture. Why?
Keeping with the centuries-old tradition of hand-cut wooden puzzles, we don't include the image for the puzzle in or on the box. Part of the fun and challenge of our puzzles is putting it together without a guide. If you'd like the image to use as a reference, send us an email at email@example.com or call us at (800) 353-3567 and we can send you the image.
How do I order a custom puzzle?
You can order a custom puzzle directly from our website, or you can call us to discuss the specifics of your order. All of our puzzles are cut to order. That means each puzzle we create is 100% unique and totally one-of-a-kind. So, some people feel more comfortable discussing their specific needs. To this end, you're welcome to call our toll-free number, (800) 353-3567, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to create a puzzle that is perfect for any occasion.
What art or imagery will be on my puzzle?
You can choose a piece of art, or an image for your puzzle from our web site. If you are undecided, we will also be happy to discuss your needs when you call or email, and help you select an image from our large collection. In addition, you can send us your own print or photograph and we can have it enlarged for you. The original will be returned.
How do I pay for my puzzle?
You can order online or on the phone, and pay by credit card or check (made out to The Waterford Puzzle Company).
How fast will I receive my puzzle after ordering?
Since each puzzle is individually cut, we need as much lead time as you can give us to complete each order. A typical turn-around for a puzzle is 3 weeks. If you have a particular deadline in mind, please contact us before ordering and we will explore the possibility of meeting that deadline. The Christmas season is our busiest and in order to ensure getting your puzzle on time, we need as much time as possible.
We generally ship via FedEx or USPS Priority Mail, and ground shipping is included in the price of our custom and rental puzzles. If you need expedited service an additional charge will be added to your shipping & handling fees.
How will my puzzle be packaged?
As The Waterford Puzzle Company transitions from ELMS puzzles, we'll use the remainder of ELMS' classic, green boxes to deliver our rental and custom puzzles, until our custom, elegant Waterford Puzzle Company boxes arrive to replace them. We're certain you'll love the new look.
Each puzzle has a label which indicates the title of the print and the number of puzzle pieces. As per tradition for hand-cut puzzles, there is no picture on the box.
Do you gift wrap?
We sure do and for no additional charge. We love sending our puzzles wrapped for someone to enjoy as a wonderful gift. We're great at keeping it a secret too!
Special Features for Gift Puzzles
If you'd like to gift a puzzle but are unsure of what kind of puzzle to give, you can gift one of our hand lettered gift certificates for either a dollar amount or a specific puzzle size, and let the recipient give us the details. In addition, we will be happy to gift wrap your puzzle and enclose a card at no extra cost.
Can you ship a puzzle so the recipient doesn't know what it is, or who it's from?
Yes, absolutely! We love surprises and are happy to accommodate.
About The Waterford Puzzle Company
How did Waterford Puzzle Company get its name and logo?
Before it was "The Waterford Puzzle Company," we were ELMS Puzzles, named after Betsy, the late Elizabeth Lee McShane Stuart. She enjoyed wooden puzzles as a child with her uncle, and years later, she bought her husband, Fred Stuart, a saw thinking that he would like cutting them himself. He did not take to cutting puzzle pieces but she certainly did.
31 years later, Fred Stuart retired from the company at age 90, and ELMS Puzzles (featured in USA Today, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, People Magazine, to name only a few) was acquired and re-branded as The Waterford Puzzle Company to commemorate the lovely nearby town of Waterford, Maine.
The elm tree logo from ELMS Puzzles provided the inspiration for the new, larger oak tree that represents the heritage, strength, and nature of The Waterford Puzzle company.
Where are you located and can I come visit?
We are located in the quaint small village of Bridgton, Maine, surrounded by lakes and mountains. We are an hour west of Portland Maine and 40 minutes east of N. Conway, NH. We enjoy having people visit to see us here in our beautiful Maine surroundings in the planning and processing of our puzzles, but please do call first to arrange a tour. Our cutters have flexible schedules and we want you to see us at our best.