How to Cut Out Wood Puzzles

By Robert Kingsley

Puzzles are excellent toys for young children. They help develop shape recognition and coordination and are just plain fun to put together. While they are great fun when finished, they can be a bit intimidating to make. There are a lot of crazy curves that make up the individual pieces that can be hard to cut. While nothing will make the job simple, there are a few different tools that can make it possible. Though following your crazy lines will be a challenge, don’t worry too much if you mess up. The pieces will fit together just fine, so even if you miss the line, no one will notice.

List of Items Needed

  • Scroll saw
  • Rotary tool with multipurpose cutting bit
  • Jigsaw with thin wood-cutting blade
  • Clamps

    Scroll Saw

  1. Make sure that your saw’s work table is perpendicular to the blade before you begin.

  2. Place your uncut puzzle on the work table and lower the hold-down that surrounds the blade until it touches the surface of your work piece.

  3. Adjust the air-hose nozzle so it sprays directly at the point where the blade will contact your work piece. If your saw doesn’t have a dust blower, ignore this step.

  4. Turn on the saw and gently feed your work piece into the blade. The scroll saw’s thin blade makes tight turns simple, so you should be able to follow your line.

  5. Cut out one piece at a time. If you find a cut that you can’t make, turn off the blade and back out of the cut. You can then approach the turn from another side, which should make it easier.

    Jigsaw

  1. Clamp your uncut puzzle to a work bench, with one puzzle piece hanging over the edge of the table, and install a thin wood-cutting blade in the jigsaw. Clamp as close to the edge of the bench as you can to control vibrations.

  2. Lay the jigsaw's base on your work piece and align the blade with your cut. If working with thin or fragile wood, avoid letting the full weight of the tool rest on the wood.

  3. Pull the trigger on the saw to start the blade and slowly feed it into the work piece. The jigsaw is capable of making tight turns, though not as tight as the scroll saw. If using this tool, design your puzzle accordingly.

  4. Cut off one puzzle piece at a time, stopping to adjust your work piece to dangle the next piece off the edge of the work bench. Continue until the job is done.

    Rotary Tool

  1. Clamp the work piece to a work bench, dangling one puzzle piece off the edge of the bench to allow for cutting. Clamp as close to the piece being cut as you can to limit vibrations.

  2. Install a multipurpose cutting bit in your rotary tool for this job. Turn on the tool and wait a second for the bit to get up to speed before cutting.

  3. Carefully feed the bit into your work piece and follow the line of your puzzle piece to cut it out. The rotary tool can cut in all directions, so following your line should be fairly easy.

  4. Continue cutting one piece at a time until the job is done.

Tips and Warnings

  • Sand down the sharp edges of your puzzle using a rotary tool with a sanding accessory before letting kids play with it.

© Demand Media 2011