Introduction: Wooden Snowflake Puzzle Stockingstuffers
Fun little puzzles that become nice holiday decorations...everybody wants one!
Step 1: Make a Pattern
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 wood...it'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
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
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
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!
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!