By Lee Krasnow

This instructable will guide you through all of the steps necessary to turn an ordinary table saw into a precision puzzlemaking machine.

Join me in this in-depth primer as I cover all of the key aspects of designing and building your own puzzlemaker's crosscutting sled like the one shown in this picture. I'll explain how to attach and calibrate special jigs and fixtures which allow you to cut wooden cubes accurate down to one thousandth of an inch.

From there I'll give you pointers on good gluing techniques, and then present you with ten fantastic puzzle designs which you can make on your own using the tools and skills covered here.

This primer will be the first in an ongoing series of puzzlemaking instructables -- each subsequent volume building upon lessons from the past ones, and each one using the puzzlemaker's crosscutting sled that I describe in this volume.


I've been getting a few emails from people wanting to know when I'll put out volume 2 of this series. I'm very glad to know some of you are finding this useful information, and please if you are eager for more of the same, then post some pictures of the puzzles that you've made from volume 1 of the primer!! Has anybody made all ten of them yet?

Step 1: Background Information

I've been designing and manufacturing interlocking puzzles and secret opening boxes as a hobby for the last 16 years, and I have been doing it professionally since 2001. Since making this hobby-to-business transition I have been steadily earning a reputation as one of the worlds best designers and manufacturers of these kinds of puzzles.

As you can see in the above podcast, most of my work involves cutting and assembling small and strangely shaped pieces of wood. This alone is enough to dissuade most people from ever getting involved in puzzlemaking as a hobby -- accurately cutting small parts can be a challenging task for even the most seasoned woodworker.

Most workshop machinery is designed to accommodate larger pieces of material, and is often inadequate for working with components that are smaller than a few inches across. Pushing projects to the limits of our machine's working capabilities and our own skills of engineering and craftsmanship often result in hastily thrown together jigs and potentially dangerous situations. Not only will the extra time and money spent setting up accurate and dependable equipment pay for itself many times over in improved safety and ease of use, but you'll also be much more likely to get the quality of results you're hoping for if you've got good gear to work with.

<p>Could you send the solution the the very first combination under the completed cube on the first page to <a href="mailto:prettylala10@gmail.com" rel="nofollow">prettylala10@gmail.com</a>? </p>
<p>I need the solution for the very first one </p>
Hello! I recently saw a video in which you demonstrated a puzzle box containing a ball bearing. It was amazing! Do you still sell these puzzle boxes? Thank you. susanatom23@gmail.com
Hello, <br>please find there: <br>http://thebreizmaker.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/jeu-de-patience/ <br>The making of may own jig, 95% inspired by yours <br>Used and done on a Kity table saw, many parts done on may home made cnc mill <br>Trials soon ! <br>Regards <br>Thierry France / Brittany
Awesome instructable. &nbsp;I have finally got around to making my own version of your sled and so far have promising results coming from it. &nbsp;Many thanks!<br> <br> <div class="media_embed"> <iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ddG6qZ90X3U" width="560"></iframe></div>
Where can I find the solution?
what puzzle do you want the solution for?
puzzle 2
number two plaese?<br>
For all
check out burrtools.sourceforge.net for awesome FREE puzzle solving software. I use this program all the time in my work, and highly recommend it for anybody who wants solutions to these puzzles.
Yes, what is the solution for number 2? Could someone show the plans instead of a site because you have to download many things for that software <br>
what is the solution for number 2<br />
I would like to know more about constructing this precision sled.&nbsp; Measurements would be helpful.
&nbsp;Writing you from Colombia in South america, love your work,your hobby,your craftsmanship etc,just great.Thanks, and good luck
I had just enough 1inch cubes left to make this one. I will do the rest in 3/4inch and 1/2inch stock. I also made the three cube ones in 1inch cubes. Great stuff i tip my hat to you and your work. In vol. 2 will you have the plans for the ones you did with the laser cutter if so i would be much obliged.
By the way...........help how do u do it
Hi I'm fairly new to this site and woodwork too. I'm very interested in puzzle boxes and have made one or two, including my own designs of trick and hit boxes. I always start without measuring though and have not taken enough pics for an instructable but I will try next time - promise. How about some simple (is there such a thing?) puzzle/secret/trick box building instructables? Alain
Very helpful. I have tried to make precision puzzles, but they always come out with some gap or another no matter what I did.
I've been making puzzles for a few months now and built a sled to do the dados on burr puzzles. Clearly, I was thinking too small. Thank you. I can't even imagine what you will do in future installments, but I'm curious.
I've really want to get into puzzle making for a while, and this Instructable might be what gets me finally started, thanks Lee Krasnow.
I have made wooden puzzles almost all my life. Here (Belgium) they're called 'breinbrekers' which means 'brainbreakers'. Now I have another addiction: making puzzles. Today I finished 'Convolution'. Thanks lkrasnow for helping me out! I barely can't wait for the next volume...
I ment 'I have solved (or at least tried to in some cases) puzzles almost all my life. etc.
. Wow! Fantastic job.
To me this looks like two separate inst* first, Build a custom sled for your table saw. Second, Make some amazing, incredible wooden puzzles using a custom sled for your table saw. Until I saw the picture I was thinking jigsaw puzzles not 3D wooden puzzles. Great work.
You just do what you want to do! ;) Wonderful puzzles! :)
Sir, you are a genius, I could not possible emulate or even begin to do your sort of work, I will just stand back, gasp, and look forward to the next instalment.
I love your work. I hope to make a puzzle box one day.
one of the best instructables ever! Nice job.
Cool! I can't wait to see the whole series.
Excellent job on the puzzles and instructable! I wish I still had access to a shop!
wow! this is pretty fantastic, man. thanks a lot. i'm definitely going to be adding this to my to-do list! great work. i'd give it a +2 if i could

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