Elms Puzzles Inc.
20 years

FAQFrequently Asked Questions

Puzzles FAQs

How are ELMS Puzzles Made?

Our quality heirloom puzzles are made out of ¼" 5 ply thick mahogany. A highly skilled cutter studies the customer's request and then designs exceptionally detailed "special pieces" to suit each individual puzzle. 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 to create an interesting puzzle. Thus, every puzzle is unique. All puzzles are then sanded, lacquered, counted, and boxed. We pride ourselves in treating each puzzle with great care. Be sure to look for each cutter's signature piece in whichever puzzle they cut!

What does it cost to have a puzzle made?

Puzzles are priced according to the number of pieces.  Our sizes range from 100 pieces to 1000 pieces and anywhere in between. There is a price break from 100 pieces to 450 pieces. For 500 pieces and up the cost is a little over $3 per piece (Please see price chart).

What size is my puzzle?

The size is generally anywhere from 5" x 7" to 20" x 24", depending upon the original artwork. We can easily increase or decrease the size of the image to create a puzzle to fit your needs. Basically there are 2 pieces per square inch of 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 an ELMS Puzzle. Special pieces may include Personalization (names & dates) but also include shapes such as flowers, animals, buildings, and hobby interests etc. ELMS Puzzles is known throughout the puzzling world for the creative and skilled detailing of these special pieces.

Can a puzzle be made easy or hard?

YES! While it definitely depends on the image in regards to 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…but are…all add to your puzzling pleasure.

Help! My puzzle did not come with a picture. Why?

Part of the ELMS experience is the fun and challenge of putting a puzzle together with out a picture and most everyone enjoys that aspect. However, if you really need a picture, please feel free to look at the artwork on this site and check it out that way.

Are all puzzles straight sided?

No. 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. Or a straight border may have what we call an Executive Edge. That's when we create either an extension of an image already in the 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, but with great care and skill. 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 $35 per piece to do so.

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!

I need something to do my puzzles on. Any suggestions?

Yes! While many people have a space or small table in which to enjoy the puzzles, other people would like a surface that is large enough and then easy enough to store a puzzle in progress. We have available beautiful, handcrafted puzzles boards in 2 sizes for sale. Many people take them with them on vacation or simply order another for a 2nd home.

What do people most comment on about your puzzles?

Well it's always interesting….from the friends and families that enjoy the togetherness that puzzles bring between the generations to the puzzler that is recuperating from surgery and needs something to pass the time to puzzlers who just want to be challenged by something not plugged in...to someone being proposed to with a puzzle or the celebrations of marriage, life, and anniversaries…we get the most amazing compliments and applause. It is very satisfying to be part of the ELMS Puzzles family.

How did ELMS Puzzles get its name and logo?

The beginning of the idea ELMS Puzzles began when Betsy, the late Elizabeth Lee McShane Stuart enjoyed wooden puzzles as a child with her uncle. 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 …. and 20 plus years later there are write ups in USA Today, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, People Magazine, to name only a few. TV interviews as well, have added to the charm of these one of a kind quality puzzles. ELMS are Betsy's initials and an ELM tree appears on our boxes and in each puzzle.

Where are you located and can I come visit?

We are located in the quaint small village of Harrison, Maine, surrounded by lakes and mountains. We are an hour west of Portland Maine and 40 minutes east of N. Conway, NH. We love having people visit to see us here in our beautiful Maine surroundings in the planning and processing of our puzzles. Please do call first to be sure your tour will be the best. Our cutters have flexible schedules and we want you to see us at our best.

Rental Club FAQs

How do I join the Rental Club? What's the cost?

We ask that you call us at our toll free number to join, #1-800-353-3567.  Upon a payment of the $75 lifetime membership fee, you will be entitled to a free rental in the 200-piece range. You will be given access to the ELMS Puzzles Rental Club site. Puzzles are rented according to size.  Please see Rental Fees. You will also be charged for shipping to and from. Please see the rental club info on the home page.

How are your puzzles rated for difficulty?

We rate our puzzles on a scale from 5 (very easy) to a 9++ (I'm going crazy!) Remember, it depends on the actual image plus the cutter's cutting that creates the difficulty. Sometimes what is easy for someone may be more challenging for someone else.

My puzzle came without a picture. Why?

At ELMS we pride ourselves on giving a puzzler a fun, challenging, and unique experience. Without a picture, you can truly immerse yourself in the delight of the finely crafted pieces and unique challenges we've created for you. If you do need a picture, we will do our best to accommodate you. You can also locate the artwork on this ***site*** and check it out that way.

What is your shipping policy?

You may choose either FEDEX or USPS Priority Mail basic 3 day services. A customer may request faster shipping for an additional fee. The shipping to and from will be charged along with your rental fee.

Should I save my shipping box?

YES. The cost to ship a puzzle is based on the weight of that container. Puzzles should never be returned in just the ELMS green puzzle box. Saving the shipping box to put the ELMS puzzle box into makes it easier for you and us.

Should I take my puzzle apart in order to return it?

Yes. It is very helpful for us to have the puzzles taken fully apart upon their return. It is always great if you've any questions or concerns about a particular puzzle if you drop us a note with it or give us a call.

How long can you rent a puzzle for?

Our rental period is a generous 3 months. Should you be done sooner, great! If you need longer than the 3 month period, please call us. We can arrange for you to "re-rent" the puzzle if need be. We're like a library…someone else may be waiting to enjoy the very same puzzle so communication with us is appreciated.

How many can I rent at one time and how often?

You may rent as many or as few as you wish. Some puzzlers rent one at a time. Others rent several at a time and it may vary throughout the year. Many people rent more during holidays and vacations.

Are there late fees?

If a rental runs late by a day or two, no problem. If a rental is going to be very late we will "re-rent" it to you for the standard 3 month rental fee. We won't send the puzzle police to you but please remember others are waiting to enjoy each puzzle too.

How do I order rental puzzles

Call, email, write, or fax. Just remember to have several choices in mind…the rental club like a library…titles may be out and we want you to have a puzzle that pleases you. Many customers simply say "Send one" and we choose within the parameters of a customer's likes and previous rental history…such as "loves surprises" or "only wants irregular edges", etc. We'll get to know you and will do our very best to keep you puzzling happily.

How do I know what I've rented in the past?

We keep a list of everything you've rented. This also allows us to develop knowledge of what you like and dislike in regards to size and subject matter.

Are all puzzles straight sided?

No. 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. Or a straight border may have what we call an Executive Edge. That's when we create either an extension of an image already in the 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.

Are there any additional puzzlers membership benefits?

Yes, there are! You are given a 10% discount off any custom puzzles you may wish to order. In addition, you are entitled to the semi-annual sales of Used & Damaged puzzles at reduced rates in comparison to custom puzzles. Used puzzles are gently used and we are moving them out of inventory. Damaged puzzles are still in good shape though they may have a missing piece that has been replaced or a partial piece may be missing. We will make sure you are aware of what each Damaged puzzle's repair is. Used & Damaged puzzles are an excellent way to begin a collection of ELMS Puzzles for the budget conscious.

Join The Club & receive your first rental FREE

 


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