Scrollers Compile Big Book of Puzzles

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Industrial Arts instructor Tony Burns and his wife June began creating items to sell at local craft shows in 1984 to supplement Tony’s teaching income during the summer. June loved to paint and draw, while Tony enjoyed woodworking, and so they combined their talents to start a new venture.

“We designed and made everything from weather vanes to candle sconces and sold them at local shows,” June said. Making use of the smallest wood scraps, which ever-frugal Tony would not part with, they began designing small art puzzles. “And thus began our puzzle adventure,” June said.

Now, 30-some years later, their puzzle creations have led them to write a book—a 128-page big book in fact: Big Book of Scroll Saw Puzzles.


The intro in Tony and June’s big book gives instructions for getting started as a puzzle maker. First, they cover choosing the best wood (and thickness), as well as the proper cutting blades for scroll sawing intricate puzzle cuts. They also offer advice and several methods for attaching and removing the scrolling patterns on the wood.

Next, Tony and June give helpful sawing tips, including how to square the scroll saw table. “If the table is even slightly off square, the cuts will be angled, which will prevent the puzzle pieces from sliding together properly,” they wrote.

Spray adhesive or a glue stuck are handy tools for attaching patterns to the wood.

Blade tension is another important aspect to scrolling, because “a blade that does not have enough tension will wander…a blade that has too much tension is more susceptible to breaking.” The book instructs that the blade should flex no more than 1/8" for optimal performance. A short section on painting and finishing suggests sanding the front, back and edges of the puzzle with 100- to 150-grit sandpaper before applying paint or boiled linseed oil.

The final part of the opening chapter goes step-by-step into the actual puzzle making process. Detailed instructions and full-color photos show how to cut the puzzle outline, cutting in to get the other pieces and pivoting the wood to make sharp turns. Helpful advice for sanding, painting and adding details is also included.


The main bulk of this big book is the patterns themselves—more than 75 of them. They are broken down into four sections with multiple patterns in each one: Noah’s Ark, Animals, Down on the Farm and Holidays. Tony and June’s patterns include grain direction lines, cut lines, paint lines and color photos of the completely finished, free-standing puzzles.

For Noah’s Ark, the scroller can create the ark, Mr. and Mrs. Noah, 10 different animal pairs like penguins, turtles, and elephants—and a rainbow!

The Animals section is a menagerie of 13 puzzle designs of creatures from around the world. You will find a flying macaw, rainforest frogs, orca whales, a den of foxes and a pile of pups, to name a few.  

Down on the Farm takes a ride to the country for puzzle patterns of the ranching variety. This section is packed full with a 24-piece set that is everything from the barn to the outhouse. Farm animals include hungry chicks, moo-dy cows, billy goats gruff and Bo Peep’s sheep. There’s a farmer and his tractor to create, as well as a hay wagon, a haystack, a pickup truck, a wishing well and some pine trees. There are several farm structures too, like the barn itself, the chicken house, a farm house and a cute little outhouse! You’ll also find a pattern for a shelf to display the entire set when the little ones aren’t playing with it.  

Finally, the Holiday section offers a year’s worth of scrolling opportunities. Puzzles for holidays, seasons and special occasions are all here, like the rose for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or a special anniversary, #1 Dad for birthday or Father’s Day, and a harvest cornucopia for thankful autumn days.


The Big Book of Scroll Saw Puzzles should provide plenty of inspiration whether you are just beginning your scrolling journey or if you are simply looking for some fresh ideas. Pick up a copy at your local Woodcraft store, or shop online at We also have all of the scroll saws, blades, wood, sandpaper, and finishes you need to create puzzles that will last for generations.

Tony and June enjoy exhibiting their work at shows in the northeast. For their show schedule, visit their website

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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