Four-Letter Blocks

Crossword puzzles to assemble


This is a program for building a new type of puzzle I designed: a crossword puzzle cut up into blocks of four letters. The solver gets the blocks plus a set of standard crossword clues and has to assemble the grid. The bad news is that the clues aren’t numbered in the normal way - 1 Across might not be in the top left. The good news is that every word has at least the first letter given.

Here’s a small starter puzzle to see how they work. You can also print out the PDF. Find more challenging puzzles I’ve published on Puzzling Stack Exchange. If you don’t want to print and cut out your own, you can buy sets of puzzles.

I recently learned that I was not the first to build a crossword puzzle out of tetrominoes. The Cross Jig Publishing Co. published one in 1932.

Greetings (7x7)

Clue numbers are shuffled: 1 Across might not be the top left. 10 pieces.

1. Made a promise
3. Brewed leaves
4. Friendly door mat
7. Caribou cousin
10. Zsa Zsa’s sister
11. Latin land
12. The Beatles’ “__ __ Sunshine”
14. McCloskey’s “Blueberries for ___”

1. Match a bet
2. Britain’s first prime minister
3. Sticks in a nest
5. Shuffle
6. Freddy’s “Nightmare” street
8. Nairobi’s land
9. Ms. DuVernay, director of “Selma”
13. Meal for a horse or a baker



To solve a puzzle: print out the PDF, cut out the blocks, and then use the clues to put the blocks together. Here are a few ideas for how to make the blocks:

  1. Printed on paper - easy to make, but frustrating to work with. Moving a piece or even breathing will probably move some other pieces around.
  2. Printed on cardstock - a bit heavier and a bit less likely to move.
  3. Printed on paper, glued to a cereal box - with a bit of thickness and more weight, the blocks move better and won’t slide over each other.
  4. Printed on cardstock, glued to felt - deluxe style. Slides very nicely and the blocks bump gently against each other.

Whatever technique you use, glue sticks are easier to work with than white glue. If you don’t want to print it out, you can also download the image and move the pieces around in a paint program.

Buying Puzzles

I’m planning to sell them soon, for people who don’t want to print and solve, and the prototypes are looking better and better. I’m keeping a journal of my progress so far, and here’s a peek:


Constructing Your Own

To construct your own puzzle, you have to construct the crossword puzzle, split it up into blocks of four letters, and then publish it. Read all the details on the Construct Your Own page.