The World's (previous) Largest Jigsaw Puzzle
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LIFE: The Great Challenge   -   by Royce B. McClure
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June 16, 2007:
Scott Slater, wife P.J. (and some help from their two daughters Whitney and Sydney)

Started May 13, 2007 and completed on June 16, 2007. 34 days!!

My wife P.J. and I live in Sacramento, CA, USA. We've been doing jigsaw puzzles since we met in college. We started small and worked up as we kept finding larger and larger puzzles to put together. To date we have completed puzzles ranging in size from 5000 to 24000 pieces. This includes (1) 12000, (2) 13500, and (2) 18000 piece puzzles.

First to complete!

All the puzzles are mounted and displayed on the walls in our house like artwork. We are always on the lookout for larger puzzles and when I found the "Life" puzzle I bought it that same day. After we got it the first thing we wanted to know was how many sections it came in and would each section fit on our table. Fortunately, the sections just fit the table with absolutely no more room to spare. Last year we completed a 13500 piece puzzle that was similar to "Life" in that it contained above and below water displays. We completed that puzzle in 3 and 1/2 weeks. That was a personal record for us. Not that we were keeping track of those kind of things but to give you an idea it took us 3 months to do our 12000 piece puzzle which we completed about 10 years ago. I think we've learned a few things about how to put large puzzles together since then. Since the 13500 took us 3.5 weeks, I gave ourselves 6 weeks to complete "Life" since it's not quite double the number of pieces. We started on May 13, 2007 and completed on June 16, 2007. 34 days!!

Working primarily after work and weekends, it took us approx 400 man hours to complete. That's 200 hours for each of us. During the week I would typically work from around 7pm until 2am and my wife would typically work from 9pm until 2am. On the weekends I was usually not home most of the day so I only got a couple hours each day but my wife would usually spend most the entire day. We built one section at a time. We completed section 1 in 12 days. The first section always takes the longest because you don't know the repeating patterns or the exact shape of each piece yet. Section 2 took us 6 days, section 3 and 4 each took 8 days. Notice how much less time each of the remaining sections took. That was due to the fact that we could build on top of the previous section and know exactly which shape piece we needed.

We plan to get this displayed on the wall very soon. We're going to have to move our 12000 piece to a new location since the wall it is currently on is the only wall large enough for this puzzle. To mount the puzzle we'll flip it over and put contact paper on the back to hold the pieces together. We'll then use contact adhesive to adhere large sheets of foam board to the back. This will give it rigidity without adding much weight.

I have to say building this puzzle has been my most favorite. We utilized all the tools and techniques we've learned over the years to build it. You would not believe the comments we get when friends stop by. Most of our friends that knew we were working on this would call or come by for a progress report and to see how far we had gotten since they last checked in.

Thanks again for the excellent puzzle and experience!


Scott Slater, Sacramento, CA, USA

Update: 25 January 2009
Just wanted to let you know that a local TV station came to our house today to interview us about the puzzle.  One of the anchors found our website and when he learned that we were local he contacted me about coming out and talking to us about it.  Here is a link to the TV broadcast.   (For some reason he thinks my name is Craig.  It trips me up at the beginning because I didn't know who he was talking to.)

Scroll through Scott's highly detailed progress reports below:

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