When I first started to make puzzles, to compare the overall effect of a puzzle with and without beveled edges, I made 2 copies of my puzzle, Cereal. One with beveling and one without. After seeing both versions, my wife informed me that I will be making all future puzzles with beveled pieces. In the end, I still don’t have to make the decision.
There are certain advantages for a newbie woodworker, like myself, in beveling the pieces:
- If you are gluing multiple pieces together in a corner jig, excess glue that may get squeezed out forms beads in the beveled area instead of having the piece get glued to another adjacent piece. Once the beads have dried, they can be cut off.
- Without the bevels, near perfect tolerances are required to allow pieces to slide past each other without catching on the edges. The bevel helps guide and move the pieces to avoid catching.
- My wife thinks that it looks awesome! This makes the prior 2 bullets, moot points.
- Sandpaper – For small bevels, some craftsman simply use sandpaper. Sometimes a small V shaped jig is used to orient the pieces at 45o to the sandpaper.
- Sander – For speedy beveling, a 45o V shaped jig can be created to use on a sander. This is what I use. It is very safe and very fast. I can bevel all 12 edges of a piece in seconds. I do the 4 sides going with the grain before I do the 8 edges across the grain. I somehow convinced myself that this was the best way to avoid tearout at the ends, but that is my own best guess. The jig can be moved closer or further away from the sander to determine how much of a bevel is provided. The downside of using a sander is that bevels end up with sanding marks but they are uniform and it looks like a texture has been provided. We’ll call this a feature instead of a problem.
- Table Saw – Some craftsmen create a 45o V shaped jig that sits right on the table saw with the blade just poking up into the jig. Since only a little bit of the blade is located at the bottom of the jig, it is also very safe as well as fast. The blade can be raised or lowered to adjust the depth of the bevel. However, the bevel can’t be any wider than the kerf of the saw blade, i.e., the width of the cutting area of the blade.
- Router – When thinking about creating bevels, the router may have been your first thought since that is one of its main functions. In fact, all of the previous techniques are limited to providing a 45o flat edge bevel, while the router can give you all sorts of fancy bevels. You can identify the craftsman level puzzles from Mr. Puzzle by their distinctive beveling on the ends of the pieces.
|Exolution Cubes I-IV by Andrew Crowell|
Although this post reads like a pro bevel advertisement, I also like seamless puzzles without beveling as well, like the puzzles made by Andrew Crowell. They are very attractive and I have a hard time envisioning what they would look like with bevels.