Notes from Puzzle Palace

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The first of the Miller's final USA Road-Trip: Creative Crafthouse

This morning at 7 am we started off on the first part of our 2 month around the USA Road-Trip.  We left Boca Raton and headed for Hudson, Florida where we were to meet up with Dave Janel of Creative  Crafthouse.

Warning: photo heavy!

Now we had attempted this trip in 2020, but as we were driving along Alligator Alley, the alternator went out on the bug.  A $300 tow later and we were back at our mechanic in Boca. And then we all know what happened with the pandemic and all. Well, we finally decided to try again.  I contacted Dave and we made an appointment for noon today.  

Sadly, things don't always work as planned.  First, the 4 hour drive turned into 6 with back roads and construction, and second, Dave had some family issues and had to fly to Maine unexpectedly. Not to worry.  His son Peter was there and he took us on a wonderful tour of the factory. We got to go deep into the bowels of the workshop. We saw the wood stacked for future puzzles, those that were shipped in from overseas, and many that they have worked on themselves.  

The exhaust system excited me and gave me great ideas on what George needs to do for his new workshop. the machinery was astounding.  They have 6 laser cutters running around the clock.  There were saws, jigs, drill presses, CNC machines, planers, sanders....the list goes on and on.  

George spent some time talking to Robert, their head of the woodworking shop.  George talked machines, while he and I commiserated over a poor cryptex puzzle build that is readily available on Amazon. We got to see a few secret new puzzles they are working on for a famous client, and no, I won't show photos. 

We learned that their best selling product isn't a puzzle at all, but rather the penny drop game.  I saw that they now nail their boxes together rather than just press fitting them.  We learned the hexadecimal puzzles were very limited and that I was fortunate to get one of the few produced.  

I got a great idea for a new lock to put on the castle door for anyone to try.  Of course, it will be custom made in cast iron, but we also plan to make an exchange out of it called "The Castle Doors". 

I (We) have been to many factories over the years, and this one was impressive. I don't know what I expected to find, but it certainly wasn't this.  The shop was clean for starters.  I was told they have 15 employees and are very proud of the puzzles they have invented themselves. On the way over George and I had a slight disagreement about the origin and I am proud to say I won this time. The company opened in 2003 and has been expanding ever since.  

The hospitality we were shown was superb.  All told, we spent around an hour wandering around and asking questions.  Of course we had to buy a few puzzles, and even managed to get one of those puzzles they manufacture for another company.  

I'm sad that we didn't get to meet Dave, but perhaps one day they will venture over to Italy. It was a lovely afternoon with some lovely people, and hey, puzzle factory? You just can't go wrong. 

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