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How to Make a Wooden Puzzle

how to make a wooden puzzle
Learn how to make a wooden puzzle by following these simple instructions! In the example shown, I made a matrioshka doll puzzle, but any simple shapes will do. Anything from geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle) to outlines of animals, flowers, trees, cars or whatever your child is interested in. For children under three, avoid any pieces smaller than 2" in any direction as well as sharp corners.

If you make the bottom of each piece flat, your pieces will also be able to "stand up" within the puzzle, which is great for added play options and display.

How to Make a Wooden Puzzle Instructions:

Step One

trace puzzle pattern

On one of your pieces of wood, draw the outline of your puzzle pieces. I draw my designs on paper first and then cut out, creating a template that I can trace and use over and over. Use pencil so you can erase any mistakes and can later erase any leftover marks after cutting.

Step Two

drill starter hole

Drill a small hole right on the pencil outline on each puzzle piece. Place a piece of scrap wood underneath where you are drilling so you can drill all the way through your board. Thread your blade through your drilled hole and cut out your first piece. Repeat until all your pieces are cut out. Take it slow and try to stay on the lines as much as possible.

Step Three

glue puzzle

Once all your puzzle pieces are cut out, set them aside and turn over your frame with the pieces missing. Spread glue on, being careful not to get too close to the edges and then place the frame on top of your matching piece of wood. Line up the edges and press down. Use a cloth to wipe away excess glue that comes out the edges, but don't worry too much because you can sand it off later.

Step Four

clamp puzzle

Clamp the wooden puzzle together OR stack bricks or heavy books on top of it. Clamps are ideal and come in handy in so many craft is your excuse to buy a set! Let it sit and dry for at least 24 hours. Meanwhile, you can sand the edges and smooth the puzzle pieces and sketch your design on them or even paint them. For younger children, I suggest sanding a little extra off the edges of the pieces so they are loosely fit in the frame as it will be much easier for them to put them back.

Step Five

sand puzzle

The next day, unclamp your puzzle frame and sand the edges smooth, removing excess glue and round all the corners. If your two boards shifted overnight and they are no longer even you can even trim the edges to make them match.

Step Six

DIY wooden puzzle

Finish decorating your puzzle with paints or non-toxic sealers. Check out the non-toxic paints to use for toys and the natural wood finishes articles for more puzzle finishing ideas.

Return to the Homemade Toys Section for more project ideas!

Wooden Puzzle Materials:

  • Two (same sized) pieces of 1/4" thick wood
  • Non-toxic wood glue. I like Elmer's stainable.
  • Scroll saw or coping saw.
  • Drill
  • Medium (100) & fine sandpaper (220)
  • At least 2 clamps (or bricks/books)
  • Pencil


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