If you really want to give a group of full-grown adults a hard time, give them a child’s toy. Often it’s the simple-looking puzzles that can be the biggest challenge, and this little wooden puzzle is a great deal harder to reassemble than it looks. However it’s easy to make one. We put together a little walkthrough to show you how to get it done.
Note: As this is a Craftsman-sponsored project, you’ll notice a number of Craftsman tools in the photos. But here’s a secret: we already owned ‘em all. You can, of course, attack this project with tools of your choice.
First begin with whatever sized stock you’d like — in this case a 22”x14” piece of 3/4″ ply. It’s really not important to pick super-nice lumber for this, but if you wanted to finish it out with colored oil stains and poly you certainly could. Enamel was in the future for our puzzle, so we stuck to ply.
Draw whatever you want your puzzle to be on the wood in pencil. Leave a little room on the sides and top for later. It doesn’t matter if you’re a not a Rembrandt — just make an interesting shape that’s close to what you want, and remember that any shape you make is going to have to be cut out with a saw blade so fine detail isn’t going to get you style points anyway.
When you’re pleased with the shape go over it in marker, pen, or heavier pencil. Notice our robot is already very different than how we drew him the first time. That’s ok; no one will ever know after we’re done.
Our puzzle will be entirely cut out of the wood, so we used a simple little compass to scribe an arc on the top and bottom, and we drew connecting lines between them to make the outer shape.
Next we cut the outer shape from the wood.
If your cutting wasn’t the best along the outside edge, don’t despair. Use a sander to even out the rough shape and make it smooth.
The real trick to this type of puzzle is to make the shapes odd-looking but not super-distinctive. The human eye is good at picking out patterns, so don’t give them any easy ones. Make the shapes unique but kind of wavy and blob-like.
Cut the rest of the puzzle pieces apart. We used our Craftsman Li-Ion Multi-Saw to carve up the needed curves — however any scroll or fine-bladed band saw would do as well.
At this point you could sand the marks off of it, call it complete, and let folks have at it — but we went a different direction.
To give our friends a sporting chance we decided to throw a bit of paint at it and color-code our robot pal. A little color goes a long way here. After separation, the robot got black indoor/outdoor enamel, and the frame pieces received a dosing of safety yellow.
The end product looks pretty good. It’s friendly and unassuming but a tad more of a brain-buster than the average adult will often admit to. Don’t believe us? Make your own version, mix the pieces up good, and reassemble it. Our little 30-piece puzzle takes the average adult 13 minutes with the color coding and 23 minutes without.
Drill, Multi-Saw, and Worklight Combo [Craftsman]