jigsaw piece design:

  • whimsies / figurals – puzzle pieces figured into animals, people, objects; common in wooden puzzles
    • multi-piece whimsy
    • anti-whimsy piece – per Artifact, the pieces that fit to the whimsies … but aren’t themselves whimsies. There must be a better term …
  • contour or color line cut – puzzle pieces cut along the lines of objects in the image.
  • tesselations – repeating shapes
  • drop-outs – blank spaces in the design of wooden puzzles
  • types of connectors
    • knob connectors – the basic innie / outie, although there are variations
    • earlet connectors – which I call butt connectors
    • identical / non-unique connectors – all the connectors are the same, and all pieces could fit together, so you have to use visual cues to find the right fit
  • types of edges
    • irregular edge
    • decorative edge
    • straight edge
    • V-shaped edge piece – just a corner hits the edge
    • split corner piece – a corner piece that is split in two, so you can’t tell from looking at it that it is at the corner
  • connecting style
    • interlocking – the traditional interlocked (with innie/outie) pieces
    • connectorless or push-fit – no connectors, or minimal, non-interlocking connectors; all pieces have smooth edges
    • snuggle fit – lots of drop-outs; the fit is made from segments or corners of pieces that snuggle against other segments or corners of pieces.
    • cluster – Like a snuggle fit, but without drop-outs; may be tesselations — very similar or same-shaped pieces with visual or engraving variations — or just a cluster of different figural pieces. Similar fit seen in thick, vertical stacking versions.
  • types of puzzle
    • cardboard
    • wooden
    • 3d
    • two-sided
    • multi-layer
    • shaped puzzle

jigsaw cutting methods:

  • die cut – a metal die on cardboard sheets
  • laser cut
  • hand-cut
  • scroll saw
  • random cut versus ribbon cut:
    • random cut – irregular shapes, possibly non-interlocking
    • ribbon / strip / grid cut – lines and rows; pieces form a grid or at least a ribbon

Finishes: gloss, matt, linen

Materials: Cardboard, wood, metal, acrylic


  • dissected maps – the original term for jigsaw puzzles, which were developed as a means to teach geography (cartographer John Spilsbury, 1760)
  • mystery puzzle – Puzzles without images.

References and Further Reading: