Introduction: Wooden Snowflake Puzzle Stockingstuffers

Picture of Wooden Snowflake Puzzle Stockingstuffers

Fun little puzzles that become nice holiday decorations...everybody wants one!

Step 1: Make a Pattern

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Start by drawing a pattern. Make each piece a little different, and it doesn't have to be 'perfect'. Make it easy on yourself and round all the interior corners a little so your scroll saw can make the turns. Sketch with pencil but then trace the final version with a black ball point pen, clean and crisp thin lines. Make copies of the original (you'll probably want to make them in multiples of three to intermix the wood colors).

Lightly sand the piece of wood (1x8) and spray a light coat of adhesive on the back of the snowflake pattern. Let dry at least 30 minutes before sticking it onto the'll save an hour of peeling paper off your puzzle pieces later! Trim around the snowflake with a jig saw or band saw to make it a little more manageable on the scroll saw.
Also note that turning the pattern for different snowflakes alters the direction of the grain in your final puzzle, making them even more interesting.

Step 2: Cut Out the Puzzle Pieces

Picture of Cut Out the Puzzle Pieces

You can be sloppy cutting out the basic perimeter shape, but you must be fairly precise when cutting all the interior lines! You'll want all the pieces of the puzzle to be interchangeable, so they must be accurate and uniform. The thicker your scroll saw blade, the more 'forgiveness' you have.

Step 3: Sand

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Peel off the pattern, put the puzzle together and sand both sides flat on a sheet of sandpaper, with the grain, just to take off the burrs from the saw.

Step 4: Stain and Seal

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Stain whole snowflakes different colors. I've found it's easier just to drop the pieces into a can of stain, fish them out and wipe off with paper towels. Let dry, put puzzles together again and spray both sides with crystal clear enamel. You don't want to varnish the interior edges of the puzzle pieces unless it has been thinned way down, just as a sealer. For the top coat I really like Rustoleum's 'Triple Thick Glaze'.

Step 5: Play With Them Before Giving Them Away!

Picture of Play With Them Before Giving Them Away!

Play around with different color combinations. You are only limited by your imagination and your pile of wood! I might try making some spray painted gloss white, metallic gold and silver...or not...seeing the wood grain is nice.

Put your final combinations into separate little gift bags. Squeals of delight emanate from those racing to put their puzzles together. Those who don't get one will be envious! For each snowflake, I have invested 50 cents for the gift bag (Dollar General), about $1.00 worth of stain and lacquer, and the wood was going to the burn pile so it was free. About two hours of labor each, but that includes the 'play time' and they are highly cherished gifts!


Boombuzz (author)2014-11-27

Okay, I've finished 24 snowflakes now, that should cover everyone on my list...and no two are alike! I scanned two of my crude patterns onto a 8.5x11 sheet for you. You can certainly improve them and customize them! Each flake will fit on a standard 1 x 6 if you angle it slightly.

ali626 (author)2014-11-22

Your puzzle is gorgeous! As someone who appreciates handmade things and has a great love of snowflakes it's just perfect for me. I love the idea of painting different pieces in gold, silver, etc. I'd probably stain most of it and then paint one side so I could enjoy both the grain and the colors. My dad is learning scroll saw work. I'll have to ask for one for Christmas. Thank you for sharing and great job.

Boombuzz (author)ali6262014-11-22

Thank you! Please share a photo if you end up painting it gold and silver.

cachingchris1998 (author)2014-12-14

i found these a little challenging but were definitely fun to make. and yes I made it

Way to go! I had lotsa fun too, and it's not over yet...I can't wait to give them away.

chabias (author)2014-11-27

These are so pretty! I really need more experience with my scroll saw before I try these. Why isn't this included in the wood contest?

Boombuzz (author)chabias2014-11-27

I've tried entering it several times but it doesn't get accepted. Maybe the judges are off this week, or maybe it's not original enough. To be sure, this is an old idea that has been around since scroll saws and cold weather.

Boombuzz (author)Boombuzz2014-11-27

And you do NOT need a lot of scroll saw experience to do this! Start with cutting out the perimeter outline on all three snowflakes first - that will give you ample practice time, and if you make a mistake it's no big deal. Accurately cutting the interior pieces is more important (so they are interchangeable with the other colors of wood), but I've found that as long as you make sure to completely cut out the black line, it will turn out great. If you waver off the line a little, just back up and start over, taking out all of the 'ink'. Besides, a little mistake gives them some 'character' and is obvious that you didn't use a CNC or laser cutter and did it by hand. Like real snowflakes, no two are exactly alike!

M2r4Miller (author)Boombuzz2014-12-08

I'll second that - I saw this project, and went out and purchased a scroll saw and am having a lot of fun with this project!

Boombuzz (author)M2r4Miller2014-12-08

What is the brand and model of the scroll saw?

M2r4Miller (author)Boombuzz2014-12-09

It's a Performax 16" from Menards they had on sale last weekend for $69.95. It has variable speed and a dust blower which is nice, the flexible light works ok, about the only problem I've had with it is the blade tensioner sticks and is sometimes hard to adjust. I have it mounted to my bench and there is very little if any vibration. Overall it works really well - don't know how long it will last, but it does have a 2 year factory warranty + 1 year extended from Menards that I paid something like $8.00 for.

I had a little Dremel hobby saw that my brother gave me several years ago and did a little cutting with it a few years ago but never made anything mainly because the vibration was insane! I did get it out for this project and then quickly realized it was not up to the task so decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present with the new saw!

pat.koerkenmeier (author)2014-12-08

Really nice. Can we buy them anywhere?

Thank you! No, sorry, not selling any, but there may be some folks on here who are making them and selling them...I'm sure they'll contact you if so!

M2r4Miller made it! (author)2014-12-07

Excellent project! I'm making 12 now. Thanks for the inspiration! This is my first scroll saw project and I'm really enjoying it. Already found some plans on the internet for more projects.

I've temporarily turned the dining room table into my finishing area... Yes, I have a very understanding wife, who even helps me with the staining. ?

The second picture shows several standing up like soldiers before bagging as Christmas presents. You can see one bag in the background.

I'm using pinless blades, 9tpi I think for the outside and 36tpi radial blades for the interior cuts. I'm cutting two at a time with no problems once I switched to pinless blades and take my time - I've learned that when the blade starts bending a lot, it is time for a new blade. I've not had a problem with the parts being interchangeable either. I started with 7.5tpi pinned blades and broke a lot of blades and basically frustrated the heck out of myself trying to make the tight radius cuts.

After two coats of polyurethane (water based), the puzzles fit together nicely.

Boombuzz (author)M2r4Miller2014-12-08

WOW! Those look great! And thanks for the suggestion on radial blades...I'll have to try those (I'm not sure I've even seen any?). I ended up using 8 tpi pinless blades for all the cuts, didn't have much problem making the tight turns but did not have luck stacking them. Do you stick them together with sprayhesive or something else?

M2r4Miller (author)Boombuzz2014-12-08

Thanks! I'm using ash and maple, 1"x6"x60" boards from the local Menards. For glue I'm using Loctite General Purpose spray adhesive which is working really well, unless I put it on too thick which means prying them apart with a putty knife and a LOT more sanding. I spray only one of the two boards and stick them together - after a few minutes they are ready to start cutting.

I'm using Olson PGT blades, I think # 45902 I purchased from a local hardware store for the outer cuts and Olson #46900 Spiral blades for the interior cuts.


Boombuzz (author)Boombuzz2014-12-08

I also bought some 3/4" red oak and mahogany, just to mix up the colors and grain textures a little. The mahogany is a breeze to cut, similar to the white wood, pine and redwood, but the oak takes twice as long. The nice thing about the oak is the very distinctive grain pattern, especially if you use a dark stain and quickly wipe off the excess.

tomatoskins (author)2014-11-21

Those look great! I love things like this! If you have the pattern in a file that you could upload I think that a lot of people would love this!

Boombuzz (author)tomatoskins2014-11-21

Thank you! I hate to share my pattern because it's so crude, pretty sloppy. I'll see if I can get it scanned and post it. Not sure how to upload it?

Boombuzz (author)Boombuzz2014-12-04

I finally did include a scan of the snowflake pattern, it's at the top of the comments page.

tomatoskins (author)Boombuzz2014-12-04

Looks great! I still love this instructable!

Boombuzz (author)tomatoskins2014-12-06

Thank you. I can't wait until Christmas so I can give them to my cousins!

brmarcum (author)Boombuzz2014-11-21

Save the scan as an image file. Your scanner will most likely do this anyway. Something like a .jpg or .png extension. Then add it just like you add photos

Boombuzz (author)brmarcum2014-11-22

On second thought, I'm too ashamed of my drawing to publish it. I would have to redraw it with a ruler and compass. Besides, drawing your original snowflake would be half the fun. You could even incorporate your initials into the puzzle pieces or personalize it some other way.

Boombuzz (author)Boombuzz2014-11-22

If people really wanted to, couldn't they just print the first photo (of the pattern)? Resize it to their preferred dimensions?

pengoddess (author)2014-12-04

I think I voted for you. I tried anyway.

Boombuzz (author)pengoddess2014-12-05

Thank you! If I win I'll send you a snowflake!

Boombuzz made it! (author)2014-12-04

Final batch of snowflakes is done, many have already been shipped out!

ravenking (author)2014-11-30

Awesome puzzle!!!

Boombuzz (author)ravenking2014-11-30

Thank you! It is really an old idea, just resurfaced.

jeanniel1 (author)2014-11-27

You have my vote! I like the idea of cutting out multiples at the same time - spray adhesive would release the pieces afterwards? How do you get them apart after cutting without breaking the arms / legs?

Boombuzz (author)jeanniel12014-11-27

Thank you! Can you actually vote yet? Maybe I don't see the 'vote' button since it's my post. I did not have good luck with cutting multiple pieces...I tried two at once and the blade overheated on the turns, plus it warped and the bottom pieces would not fit the top. I had no trouble pulling them apart, since I let the spray adhesive dry thoroughly before sticking them together...they weren't 'glued' together. The pieces are small enough that I haven't had a single break (24 snowflakes so far), even with the redwood, which is very weak wood.

Boombuzz (author)Boombuzz2014-11-28

If you do want to try cutting two snowflakes at once, do not spray adhesive on both pieces, just one! Otherwise it will act like contact cement and you WILL have trouble breaking the pieces apart.

jeanniel1 (author)Boombuzz2014-11-29

Oooh, good point. I was thinking it'd be on both sides! Whew - diverted that disaster - extra-thick snowflakes!

jeanniel1 (author)Boombuzz2014-11-29

No, but your project popped up in a feature email from Instructables! So, even if you don't win, you have notoriety! Good to know about the multi-layer and adhesive. Thank you.

Quizicat (author)2014-11-27

I just got a scroll saw. This looks like a great thing for me to start with. What blade did you use on the scroll?

Boombuzz (author)Quizicat2014-11-27

I ended up using 8 tpi, smooth cuts on high speed and less breakage from overheating.

Quizicat (author)2014-11-27

I forgot to add...this project looks very cool!

Boombuzz (author)Quizicat2014-11-27


Boombuzz (author)Quizicat2014-11-27

Thank you! I started out with a 14.5 tpi which made a very nice, smooth cut, but took longer and broke more blades. I switched to a 8 tpi and haven't had a problem since, go through five or six snowflakes before I have to change a blade (no breakage, just dullness). With 3/4" thick hardwoods, you'll really need the 8 tpi I think. BB

sammyrampers (author)2014-11-22

Fantastic. Just had a scroll saw given to me so I'd like to try this.

Boombuzz (author)sammyrampers2014-11-22

Great! Scroll saws are a lot of fun and it's virtually impossible to cut your fingers off!

cfs0527 (author)Boombuzz2014-11-27

Thanks this is so cool. Got some maple walnut and birch cutoffs so I want to make some for the neighborhood kids. At first I thought this was another project where I would have to buy a CNC laser with some arduino thingamajig. Well, I have a scroll saw. Heck, you could even do this with a coping saw!

Boombuzz (author)cfs05272014-11-27

Yes, in fact I have an antique cast iron scroll saw that was my dad's and is powered by foot pedaling like an old sewing machine. I started with it but then the list of recipients grew larger and Christmas is looming! I might post a pic of the old saw.

Laral (author)2014-11-27

Wow. Very nice. Great illustrations and instructions.

Boombuzz (author)Laral2014-11-27

Tan Q Berry Mush!

askjerry (author)2014-11-27

This is perfect... going to make some right now!


Boombuzz (author)askjerry2014-11-27

Thank you! Please post some pics of the completed flakes!

Wired_Mist (author)2014-11-23

I remember making these in high school ! For some strange reason your turned out better ! lol Awesome Job!

Boombuzz (author)Wired_Mist2014-11-23

Thank you, ha ha, I made these in high school too!

About This Instructable



Bio: I have a blast creating things, inventing things and pulling pranks. Getting a nose full of sawdust is very satisfying! Retired Carpenter and Construction Superintendent ... More »
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