Just goes to show you that if you put enough of those $10 words together you can create a pretty impressive title.

 It's a 3 dimensional bendy snake puzzle thing - made of wood!

I have built several puzzle boxes and love to see my friends and family struggle to find the correct combination of moves to open them. I recently stumbled across a website where they make and sell 3d wooden animal puzzles. The price was more than I could rationalize spending so I decided to look into the possibility of making my own.

I analyzed the various designs available on line. I was able to determine that there are several keys to successfully creating a great puzzle.
Each piece is cut at a 90 degree angle from the previous piece.
Each cut needs to be carefully made. A wire type saw blade that allows for sharper angles and better interlock of the pieces.
Sanding and finishing of the outer surface is easier if it is done before the pieces are cut apart.
There must be overlap between cuts or the pieces will not interlock.
The head piece must extend far enough back to allow the eye dowel to go through it.

No matter your skill set or budget, you should be able to build one of these fine animals and show them off to your friends and family.

I was inspired by the following Instructable:


and the following websites:





Step 1: Materials and Tools

Wood - A good piece of wood to start with is a 2 x 2 by 15 inch piece of pine. The size of this piece of wood makes it manageable and gives enough surface to make good cuts that will interlock properly.
Pine is easy to work with and sometimes you can get a piece with interesting grain that will really highlight your work.

Dowel - I had a piece of 1/8 inch dowel sitting around - I suppose a toothpick would work if you have one.

Saw - I have a Craftsman Scroll saw and I love it. I have several different types of blades, each with a special purpose. I use a skip tooth blade to make my long cuts on pieces that do not require great precision or where one side will be scrap so the width of the cut is not critical. I have a spiral blade that is basically a fine wire with a spiral wound cutting surface. This blade makes extremely fine cuts, as narrow as .035". It also allows for cuts in any direction, forward, backward or sideways and because it is so fine sharp corners are very easy. The perfect blade for cutting puzzle pieces. These blades came from Home Depot in packs of 18 or 36 for about $12. Smaller packs are available for less.

A little more about blades for scroll saws: I chose a reverse tooth blade for the puzzle piece cuts because I am cutting on a finished surface and the reverse tooth blade makes a much smoother cut on the bottom side. There is almost no need to sand or file the lower edges. The disadvantage is that the blade cuts only in one direction so when the piece is too long to completely rotate on the saw table, you have to remove it and approach from the other side. This problem goes away as the snake gets shorter. My opinion is that the smoother edge is well worth the extra work involved in making the second cut.

Coping saw - for those who have one and know how to use it, precision cuts are easily done with a coping saw. I have one, but chose the scroll saw for convenience and time.

Band Saw - I do not own one of these but clearly they are an ideal tool for this type of project. Especially if you are cutting thicker pieces of wood.

Sandpaper - I use a coarse grit (100) for the first pass. When I am satisfied with the surface I step up to a 150 grit and then finish with a 220 grit paper.

Drum sander - I purchased a 20 piece pack of drum sanding supplies at Harbor Freight for around $7.99. The largest drum in the pack is perfect for my project and saved me quite a bit of time smoothing the edges and rounding the corners.

Drill press - I have a small variable speed drill press from Harbor Freight. I use this to drill the eye hole with a 1/8" bit. I also use this to shape my wood with a drum sander.

Portable Drill - A hand held portable drill would work just fine for drilling the one hole that is required for this project. Use care to make sure the bit remains perpendicular to the work surface so the hole you drill goes straight through.

Finishing supplies - Bare wood is just fine for this project, but to give it a little flare adding a stain provides contrast between the cut parts of the pieces and the outer sides. The grain of the wood is also highlighted with the right stain. I have a can of Minwax One Step on the shelf that I used a few years ago to re-finish some window molding. One step means that I can save some time by staining and sealing with one product.

Latex or vinyl gloves - These are worn to protect the hands from the finish.

Paint brush, rags or paper towels - I use paper towels to apply the stain to my project. Sometimes a brush will leave stroke marks and you have to go over the surface with a rag or towel anyway.

Good wood glue for repairing any broken pieces.

Clamps to hold any pieces that had to be glued.

Safety equipment - Safety goggles, leather work gloves and a dust mask to protect you from the dust produce by sawing and sanding.
<p>Nice, I love it!</p>
A thinner blade will break more often but give smoother, tighter arcs.

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