Introduction: 🧩 How to Make a Customized Cardboard Jigsaw Puzzle 🧩 Quick, Cheap & Neat Looking

In in this tutorial, Loop shares a method to make your own cheap & neat Cardboard Puzzles, easily.

Did you know that you can make a neat Cardboard Jigsaw Puzzle in less than 1 hour ?
Such puzzles can be made for fun, for a personalized gift, for escape games, for delivering notes, etc.... They can easily be sent by post to your confined or hospitalized beloved ones (using a regular enveloppe).

This is the first Instructable from Loop, 12 years old.*
If you like it, please show her, with a
💜 or a 💬 !

* I'm writing & posting in her name, because Instructable accounts can only be created for people aged 13+ years.


  • 1 sheet of paper displaying your puzzle visual (drawing**, painting, photo, "collage", hand written message ... whatever you like !)
  • 1 flat piece of cardstock or thin cardboard (eg. cardstock sheets enveloppe, breakfast cereal box)
    Same size or larger than your puzzle visual.
  • Glue sticks
  • 1 pencil
  • A pair of Scissors
  • (optional : X-Acto knife +cutting board)

(**A picture of a drawing from Loop is available for download & printing in the last step of this Instructable - (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 FR))

Step 1: Glue the Paper Paper on the Cardstock/cardboard

  • Take a sheet of paper displaying your to-be puzzle visual 🖼.
    (In this tutorial example, Loop choose to draw her puzzle visual).

  • Take a piece of flat cardstock or thin cardboard (larger than the visual).
    Using the glue stick, apply a thin even layer of glue on the back of the paper (NOT on the recto displaying the visual)
  • Turn the paper, and lay it flat on the flat piece cardstock/cardboard (glued verso facing the cardboard/cardstock), and press it gently, so that they stick well together and paper remains flat.
  • Let the glue set for a couple of minutes (adapt time to glue properties)

When recycling packaging 📦, glue the paper on the most neutral side (because bright colors/shapes can see through white paper)

Step 2: Cut the Cardboard to Your Paper Sheet's Size

Using a pair of scissors cut the cardstock/cardboard along the paper

Now you have a nice piece of craft, combining paper and cardstock/cardboard, and showing your 🖼 puzzle visual on one side.

(optional : if you want to do a recto-verso puzzle, or to adapt the appearance of the back of your 🧩 puzzle pieces, glue a piece of paper on the back of the cardstock/cardboard)

Step 3: Draw/Score 🧩(Puzzle Pieces) Arrangement

On the back of the to-be puzzle 🧩, draw/score with a pencil the arrangement of your puzzle pieces.
For a quick and neat result, Loop choose to draw squares of the size of her ruler's width.
To do the same, on the back of your to-be puzzle, align your ruler along one border of the cardstock/cardboard, and mark along the other side of your ruler. Then align your ruler along your mark, and draw next mark along the other side of your ruler.
Once you hit the end of the cardstock/cardboard, repeat the previous sequence, starting along a border that's perpendicular to your previous start (ex : place ruler along length if you already marked parallels to width)

(Optional : you can be as creative as you wish : eg. imagine regular or irregular arrangements ! Just keep in mind that you'll have to be able to cut them when you make your creative choices 😊✁)

Step 4: Draw/Score the 🧩 Pieces Interlocking Tabs 🧩

On the back of the to-be puzzle 🧩, draw/score, with a pencil, the interlocking tabs of your pieces.
For a quick and neat result, Loop choose to rectangular interlocking tabs. To ensure each 🧩 piece will have a unique shape, draw the interlocks of each puzzle pieces one by one, in a methodical order (eg. using reading logic) and make each new one different from the other.
When doing rectangular interlocking tabs, the elements you can adapt are :

  • number of tabs per piece
  • height and length or tab
  • tab location on the 🧩 piece side (ex : centered, more toward top, more toward bottom)
  • hollow or interlocking tab

(Optional : you can be creative as creative as you wish : Eg. imagine regular or irregular interlocking tab designs ! Just keep in mind that you'll have to be able to cut them when you make your creative choices 😊✁)

Step 5: Cut the 🧩 Puzzle Pieces 🧩

Using a pair of scissors (or an X-Acto knife together with a cutting mat), carefully cut the puzzle pieces along your design of 🧩 that is showing on the back of your to-be puzzle

Place each 🧩 puzzle piece aside, away from your cutting work area as soon as you have cut it.

This is the most delicate step of this Instructable. Work through it calmly, taking care of your hands, fingers, table and creation.
Take time to control the appearance of your creation on the recto
🖼 of your to-be puzzle, as you progress.

Step 6: Control Your 🧩 Puzzle

Assemble your puzzle, controlling the quality of your 🧩 pieces.
You can add some glue where needed, and use your fingers to flatten the 🧩 puzzle pieces that would have been accidentally bent during the creation steps.

Step 7: Jigsaw Puzzle Is Ready

Your Jigsaw puzzle is now ready to use !

Step 8: Optional - Loop's Drawing for Download & Printing (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 FR)

You can download & print this drawing from Loop, if you'd like to use it to make your own puzzle.
This features King Fred the fearless : one character from The Ickabog novel by J.K. Rowling.
(This drawing pre-dates the printing of the Ickabog book, and was entered in the French contest for the book's illustration. It did not win, therefore this will not show in the official printed book).

Puzzles Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Puzzles Speed Challenge