Make a 3D Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

I’m not sure if there is any project that brings more pleasure after it leaves my shop than a jigsaw puzzle.

After buying a scroll saw, I was soon making jigsaw puzzles from 1/4″ plywood. As fun as they were to make and assemble, I soon began experimenting as I do, and started cutting multi-level 3D jigsaw puzzles. To date, I have cut thousands of puzzle pieces on the scroll saw dd(and even a dozen or so with a manual fret saw).

If you’re interested in learning how they are cut, check out my article in the latest issue of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement: Make a 3D Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle. There are some good scroll saw tips in the article as well.

Not interested in making your own puzzle? I sell them too – they’re a great gift idea. Click here to shop.

Routing the Puzzle Pieces for Puzzle Table

After gluing up the four sides, my next step was to rout in the puzzle pieces.

I used three combination squares referenced off of each edge to lay out a grid, which represented the size and location of the puzzle pieces.

Puzzle Table10

Pencil can be difficult to see on black walnut, but I found that roughing up the planed surface with 120-grit sandpaper made the lines easier to see.

Puzzle Table11

I routed the jigsaw puzzle design with a 1/8″ spiral bit, doing one line at a time.

Puzzle Table12 It was very gratifying to see one surface completed.

Puzzle Table13

Next, I rolled the cube and continued routing puzzle pieces into the other faces.

Puzzle Table14

Cutting a 3D Jigsaw Puzzle

18-Piece Puzzles

18-Piece Puzzles

People have always been fascinated by my 3D wooden jigsaw puzzles. “Wow! Is that ever cool?” they marvel. “How on Earth did you make this?”

“They are little gems.  I dared to unlock a few pieces from one puzzle and was pleasantly surprised to find that they are unexpectedly puzzling!  Devilish and nicely done!”

– Jonathan, a recent buyer

Well, I decided to turn on the video camera to record the process of cutting one while making puzzles for Port Moody Art Centre’s current exhibition, Winter Treasures. The process basically involved making a series of cuts, rotating each segment on edge, making another series of cuts, then rotating each segment again to make the final series of cuts. Cutting these puzzles took a fair amount of hand strength, dexterity, stamina and patience. I also needed to be able to put the pieces back together when I was done cutting!

The result was somewhat of a hypnotizing video. The soundtrack I chose was Colin James’ Far Away Like a Radio, one of my favourite tunes to get me in the groove for cutting puzzles. Enjoy. (Duration – 4:27)


More Multi-Layer Jigsaw Puzzles

Big or small – I make them all!

Last year I made two large, complex and challenging jigsaw puzzles with 90 and 140 pieces, respectively. Making a puzzle involves cutting out sections of pieces, turning them on edge, cutting them again, turning each section another time and making more cuts. The result is a pile of very intricate and highly unique puzzle pieces.

90-Piece Puzzle2

90-Piece Puzzle

140-Piece Puzzle2

140-Piece Puzzle

The large puzzles were impressive and the sheer number of pieces would have intimidated even a die-hard puzzler (or even its maker!). For that reason, I decided to make some smaller puzzles.

18-Piece Puzzles

These puzzles are smaller (roughly 2-3/4″ x 2-3/4″ x 1″) and have fewer pieces but are no less intricate or tricky than the larger ones.

A single is a great introduction to my multi-layer puzzles, and the difficulty can be increased by disassembling two or more into one pile of pieces.

I am offering them individually for $30 each, or $75 for three.

By the way, the two large puzzles are still for sale at this time as I write this article.

18-Piece Puzzles

18-Piece Puzzles


More Cribbage Boards Now, More Puzzles Soon

There are two new cribbage boards on my Gallery page.  Both are presently for sale and they will be the last two available this year.

Click on any image to view the product details.

Cribbage Board 9

Cribbage Board #9 (Click image for details)

Cribbage Board #10 (Click for details)

Cribbage Board #10 (Click image for details)

In Other News

I’m sure you saw my insane 140-piece puzzle that I posted last weekend.  It’s so complex that even I, a puzzle-lover and the maker of the puzzle, am afraid to take it apart because I’m not sure that I’ll have time to get it back together before it sells.

140-Piece Puzzle Top

140-Piece Puzzle (Click image for details)

If you don’t enjoy driving yourself insane, but still like challenging yourself with puzzles, I have some smaller, simpler 3D (multi-level) jigsaw puzzles that will be available soon. All the puzzles are made of hardwood and I cut each piece myself.