Introduction: 2D to 3D Puzzle: Log Cabin Puzzle

When people normally think about Puzzles, 2D puzzles are what come to mind. 3D puzzles were somehow forgotten when 1000, 5000, and even 10,000 piece puzzles were created. In this Instructable, you will learn how to turn an ordinary 2D puzzle into a 3d puzzle using only office supplies! I hope you enjoy this! If you do, please consider voting for us in the Puzzle Contest. Thank you!

Step 1: Log Cabin Blueprint

Just as an overview, this is what the finished product will look like, only this is animated. If you want to, you can follow along with our design of the log cabin, otherwise, feel free to use these 3D puzzle pieces to make other designs.

Step 2: Materials

This project requires about 2-4 days because of the drying portion of the puzzle mache.

  • Materials

-Puzzle Pieces (Around 50-100 for a log cabin)


-Boiling Water

  • Tools

-Masher Stick

-Plastic Wrap



-Picture Frame

-Cardboard or Card-stock the size of the picture frame

-Mixing Bowl


-OPTIONAL: Spray Paint or colored pens

IMPORTANT: If you don't have an empty picture frame, you'll need either of these:

a. flat and decent sized container

b. cardboard, glue gun, and popsicle sticks

If this is confusing, look at the pictures above.

Step 3: Puzzle Mache Part 1

The next step is to create a compound out of puzzle pieces to make 3D pieces.


  1. Carefully pour boiling water into the mixing bowl.
  2. Place all the puzzle pieces inside the bowl. (If you don't have puzzle pieces, shredded newspaper and works great too. This is a great guide on how to make paper mache if you don't have puzzle pieces.
  3. Using the mixing stick, stir until the puzzle stickers begin the fall off. If you are using newspaper, stir until the paper turns very soggy.
  4. Then, use your hands to remove all the puzzle stickers until you are left with only puzzle cardboard.


  • If is very important that the water is very hot. I tried it with warm water, but the stickers don't come off as easily.
  • Make sure you create enough mache for your design. For the cabin, 75-100 pieces should be enough.

  • Make sure the water is relatively warm before you take out the stickers (boiling water kind of hurts).

Step 4: Puzzle Mache Part 2

The next step is to turn the wet puzzle pieces into a sort of paste so that you can make 3D pieces.


  1. Pour or strain out the dirty water and refill the container with new boiling water. IMPORTANT!!! The amount of puzzle pieces versus water should be 1:3 ratio. (Water=1 Puzzle=3)
  2. Using your hands, squish and crush the puzzle pieces until the become flaky.When the pieces get too small, use the masher stick to crush the pieces.
  3. After some time, you will end up with a sort of paste. Put it in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. After an hour, add glue to the mixture. The Ratio should be 4:1 (Puzzle=4 Glue=1)


  • Even if your arm feels numb and sore at the same time (it eventually happens), stick to it. The puzzles need to become very pasty or the next step won't work at all.
  • If you're not using the paste yet, place it in the fridge . The glue tends to dry very quickly in paper mache.

Step 5: Making the Mold

If you have a picture frame or a flat container, you're in luck, skip to the next step. If not, build this mold.


  1. Place the piece of cardboard on a plat surface. (We used a sort of mesh, but cardboard will work a lot better to serve as your frame)
  2. Using the glue gun, glue the popsicle sticks around the border of the cardboard. You can make this border as big or small as you want.
  3. Add supports around the popsicle sticks to make them slightly stronger.


  • Make sure the popsicle sticks are placed very carefully, they need to hold in all the paper mache you pour into them.
  • Use a ruler or stick to make sure the popsicle sticks stay straight; you don't want lopsided puzzle pieces.

Step 6: Mold the Paper Mache

The next step is to put the paper mache into the mold so it can be cut out later for 3D puzzle pieces.


  1. Place a plastic wrap over your frame. (Trust me, after doing this 6 times I realized it was much easier with wrap. Skip to step 8 if you want to know why)
  2. Slowly use the masher stick to spoon paper mache from the bowl into the picture frame/mold.
  3. Using your hands, smooth out the paste until it becomes relatively smooth.
  4. Using the cardboard sheet, place it down on the frame and gently push it downwards.
  5. Lift the cardboard sheet back up and the paste should be flat!
  6. If you have a roller, it also helps to smooth the paste.
  7. The paste should be about 3/4 centimeter thick.


  • Make sure you apply even pressure to the mache so that it stays completely flat.
  • Make sure you create enough mache for your design. For the cabin, 3 frames and 75-100 pieces should be enough.
  • Remove any bits of puzzle that weren't perfectly ground.
  • Make sure the paste spreads throughout the frame evenly, if not, the puzzles won't be perfectly 3D.

Step 7: Drying the Paste

This, by far, was the HARDEST step for me.


  1. Place the frame in the sun for about 1-2 days.
  2. When the paste on the top becomes hard, push it to see if the bottom is still liquid.


  1. Try to blow dry the puzzle pat until it becomes really hot on the outside. Then, let it harden on its own.
  2. Use a heat gun to scorch the top of the paste. It isn't very effective but it is another alternative.


  • Be patient. Mr. Sun doesn't always want to come out and play.
  • When you are testing the paste for hardness, make sure you don't accidentally mark the paste.

Step 8: Removing the Mache

If you put a plastic wrap over your frame, you shouldn't have much of a problem removing your mache from your frame. However, we didn't know this when we made ours, and we came up with some pretty nasty results...

Removing from glass:

  • We used a hammer to try and smash the glass the mache was on. We ended up with severe glass cuts and a super messy floor.
  • The only tip we have if you run into this is to heat the glass. This will cause the mache to unstick from the glass, instead of hardening onto it.

Removing from plastic wrap too early:

  • We were kind of impatient to move on to the next step and we ended up ripping the mache before it was completely dry.
  • The tip we have is to be patient, and gently push down on the mache to see if it is ready or not.

Removing from popsicle stick frame:

  • When we tried to remove from the popsicle sticks, lots of mache stuck onto the popsicle stick, causing a huge rip.
  • To avoid ripping the mache, blow dry the cardboard the mache rests on before you remove it.

Step 9: Log Cabin Exact Dimensions Blueprint

The puzzle design is 4 walls and a roof, each with different and unique features, like a door, window, or shingles. The walls and roof interlock on the sides using flaps. Here are all the exact dimensions that you can use. The digital templates I made on TINKERCAD should be easy to follow, but I also included handwritten ones that I used.


  1. Front Wall (3.75 by 5 inches)
  2. Left Wall (3.75 by 5.75 inches)
  3. Right Wall (3.75 by 5.75 inches)
  4. Back Wall (3.75 by 5 inches)
  5. Front Triangle (2 by 3.2 by 5 inches)
  6. Front Triangle (2 by 3.2 by 5 inches)
  7. Roof (5.75 by 6.4 bent in half)

If this sounds confusing, look at the pictures and models we made. It'll make much more sense.


Step 10: Cutting the Shapes

The next step is to mark and cut the puzzle mache.

OPTIONAL: Using spray paint or regular paint, coat the puzzle mache with white paint. This will make it easier to add a design later.


  1. Using a pencil, mark the lines you will cut. Use a ruler so that the lines will be straight.
  2. For reference, here are the shapes you need to cut:

List of Pieces:

  • Front Wall (3.75 by 5 inches)
  • Left Wall (3.75 by 5.75 inches)
  • Right Wall (3.75 by 5.75 inches)
  • Back Wall (3.75 by 5 inches)
  • Front Triangle (2 by 3.2 by 5 inches) TEMPLATE ABOVE
  • Front Triangle (2 by 3.2 by 5 inches) TEMPLATE ABOVE
  • Roof (5.75 by 6.4 bent in half)

3. Use a ruler to measure out the shapes, then mark them with a ruler.

4.Cut out the pieces with a knife or scissor, depending which is easier.


  • Make sure your cuts are SUPER accurate. The pieces need to interlock perfectly.
  • Be very careful with your cuts, one bad cut could result in a restart.

Step 11: Flaps

FLAPPY BIRDS! Just Joking. These will help your sides to stay together. From the sides you already have assembled, cut flaps on the pieces.

  • Triangles need 1 flap on bottom
  • Front and back Rectangles need 3 flaps, one on the top and two on the sides
  • Left and right Rectangles need 2 flaps, each to connect to the front and back rectangles
  • Roof needs zero flaps, it lays on top of the triangles


  1. Draw a one inch line on the border of wherever you need a flap.
  2. Try to imitate our pictures as best as you can. You are looking for a teeth-like pattern, where two pieces interlock.
  3. Mark the pieces with the lines you will cut.
  4. Cut the lines you drew in the previous step.


  • As always, these cuts need to be incredibly precise. That way, the flaps will fit together perfectly.






Step 12: Cutting Decorations

In our log cabin, we only added a window and a door. Feel free to add more decorations like a flower bed or chimney.


  1. Trace out the area you want to cut with a ruler and a pen
  2. Cut out the area.


  • As always, make sure that the cuts are accurate and don't rip the mache.

Step 13: Cutting the Puzzle

When you cut this puzzle, make sure not to use to traditional puzzle templates, these don't work quite as well with 3D puzzles because the pieces have to support more weight. Use the puzzle template we provided instead, it holds much better. We tried this project with this template as well as just randomly cutting out pieces, and cutting them in a uniform way tended to be more effective.


  1. Using a pen, mark out where you are going to cut the puzzle pieces.
  2. Cut out the lines you made.

-place template over mache

-cut it out over the lines


  • Use a knife instead of a scissor to cut the mache. This will likely make your cuts more precise.
  • The images have examples on how we made templates for our puzzle sides.

Step 14: Assembling the Puzzle

Once you have all your pieces, assemble it just like a puzzle. The main part is to put together the walls and the roof first, then put those layers together. We ended up with 75 pieces in our puzzle.


  1. Assemble the left and right walls so that you have two solid walls. Keep in mind that you have a window on the left wall.
  2. Assemble the back and front walls, keeping in mind that the front has a door.
  3. Using the flaps, interlock the walls so you get four sides.
  4. Assemble the roof, making sure that the side flaps interlock after the top flaps.
  5. Interlock the roof onto the four walls.


  • The roof has to be assembled first before the roof side flaps.

Step 15: Decorating

This is more of an optional step, but adds a cool design to your 3D puzzle.


  1. Spray paint or color your entire design a base color. (MAKE SURE IT IS ASSEMBLED)
  2. Add designs using pens or sprays of spray paint to the model. (we made a sort of modern graffiti look.)


  • Use water pens or acrylic paints to add sharper details.
  • Make sure you don't dent or rip the mache when you add details


Great Job! You're done! Now go find some random Lego mini figures to put in your puzzle house!


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