puzzle 59: "Whisper", April Harrison from the "2009 April's Song Calendar"

piece count: 130

measured size: ?

date cut: 5 May 10

notables: signature piece, long round

disposition: Kathy

“Whisper” is really a test piece; I recently acquired some 5-ply poplar plywood from Wildwood Designs.  My friends over the Scroll Saw Woodworking and Craft puzzle forum have been recommending it for puzzle cutting.  I had been growing frustrated with my normal baltic birch plywood and felt like I needed a change.  The baltic birch is very tough to cut; it’s not unusual for me to only get 10-30 pieces cut before I need to change the blade (hopefully closer to the 30 side!).  Folks were reporting that they were cutting whole 300+ piece puzzles with 1-2 blades while using the poplar.

While I didn’t get this whole puzzle cut with one blade, the poplar was vastly easier to cut.  The ease of the cutting really allowed me to get into the “flow” of working; it was smooth sailing the whole way.  But still, the poplar is not without it’s faults.  The poplar cuts so easy because it is not as dense as the baltic birch; there is difference in the weight and feel between the plywoods.  The baltic birch just feels nicer; the poplar feels like balsa wood.  Also the poplar had a lot more “fuzzies” on the backside after cutting; nothing that can’t be taken care of with some sandpaper, but it was different.

My costs for the poplar were significantly more that of the baltic birch because I can get the baltic birch locally and I had the poplar shipped to me.  I may ask my local provider if they have anything like the poplar in stock to help reduce the cost.

I have a couple more puzzles worth of poplar to experiment with, so while I still prefer the baltic birch I’ll keep working with the poplar to see if my feelings change.  The poplar was really easy to cut; that still holds a lot of appeal for me.

And as final note, I applied tung oil to the backside like I’ve be doing for a while now.  The oil didn’t really do much with poplar and will probably go natural for future poplar puzzles.