Introduction: 8 Bit Mario - 5 Puzzles in 1 With Display Case

About: I'm not an expert in anything. I just enjoy making things sometimes for the process sometimes for the end product.

What's better than one puzzle? Five! Five puzzles are better than one! This has been on my to-do list for quite a while, seriously like years. This was inspired by my Instructables arch-nemesis -BALES-'s Activity - Instructables he made something similar to this about 5 years ago. I thought it was a neat concept and thought I could put my spin on it.

I'll cut to the chase, the main take away from this Instructable is having a 6-sided cube of wood that can be used to make different puzzles; more than 6 actually, I'll speak to that later. By painting each side of the cube, a different color, you can create a different puzzle. I also made the frame so that it could be used to display the finished puzzle. It has a removeable cover so you can change the image by solving a new puzzle and displaying that instead. It's not only a puzzle it can also be an Art piece.


256 qt. 5/8-inch Wood Cubes (I would make sure to get extra cubes they aren't all perfect and will need extras as replacements)

Tape Measure


1/2-inch Wood board that's at least 1-3/16-inch wide and 4 feet long

Table Saw

Miter Saw

3/16-inch Plywood that's at least 12-inch by 12-inch in size

Wood Glue

220 Grit Sandpaper

1/8-inch Plexiglass that is at least 12-inch by 12-inch in size

Ratchet Strap Clamp

12-inch Clamps


5-minute Epoxy

Assorted Paints and Brushes


Paper Towels

Step 1:

This image of an 8-bit Super Mario will be our first puzzle. It measures 12x16 squares or blocks rather. In order to make this build easier I decided to make it square so instead of 12x16 I will make it 16x16. This way I can fit 16x16 cubes in the frame which is a total of 256 cubes. This also makes it so that my miter lengths are all the same length and requires just one setup and easier to cut.

I laid out 16x16 cubes to get a rough idea of the length and height I needed to make the inside of my frame. Even though the cubes are not all exactly the same the dimensions in both axis, the measurement came out exactly the same, 9-9/16 inches. That becomes the minimum inside dimension of the frame.

*I purchased my wooden blocks from a Hobby store which sold them for $3.50 for 72 pcs. If you have scrap material around and can make precise-ish cuts you can always make your own.

*If you have a Dollar Tree near you, they also sell a 36ct. pack for $1.25 each.

* Amazon also sells them, but they are more expensive almost 3 times the price.

Step 2:

I have some Mesquite wood flooring planks that someone gave me and decided to make the frame out of some of those scraps. The flooring has grooves in the bottom for glue adhesion, but I was able to rip some nice strips from a couple of boards. I ripped them to a width of 1-3/16-inch. This number can be larger, it doesn't have to be exactly 1-3/16-inch.

Step 3:

With the two strips cut to width I now needed to add two grooves. One groove will be the bottom groove for the plywood to slide in to and the top groove will be for the plexiglass cover to slide on to. I picked an arbitrary depth for the groove since this will not be load bearing or holding anything heavy. I made both grooves 3/16-inch wide, this was a mistake I should have only made the bottom groove 3/16-inch wide and the top groove 1/8-inch wide but at the time of making the grooves I didn't have the plexiglass on hand. I later discovered that I could only find 1/8-inch-thick plexiglass. So, I had to fix this later, but that's in another step below.

Anyhow I made the grooves by making one pass on the table saw and then moving my table saw fence over slightly and making another pass to widen the groove. I would check the fit with a scrap of plywood until the plywood slid in snugly. I repeated this for both grooves making one groove at a time so that they would line up once I mitered the corners.

I made sure to make the space in between the grooves 11/16-inch wide see pic 5. This leaves a little room for the any inconsistencies in the wood blocks.

Step 4:

Now it was time to make the miter cuts. So, I set my saw to 45 degrees, my saw has a positive stop at 45 and makes very accurate cuts so I was confident I would get nice, mitered corners. I cut the first miter and then measure 9-5/8-inches on the inside edge of the cut and mark it. I flip my piece of wood over and make my second cut. I double check my measurements before making any other cuts. I repeat this process for all four pieces making sure that they are all the same length.

The inside of the frame ends up being a 9-5/8 inches square. I did this to compensates for any inconsistencies in the size of wooded blocks, it gives it a little wiggle room.

Step 5:

Using my table saw I cut my plywood to 10x10 inch square. When cutting the plywood and plexiglass make sure you take into consideration the depth of your grooves and add that to the overall dimension of the inside of the frame. In my case the inside of the frame is 9-5/8-inch square I then add the depth (3/16 inch) of the grooves on both axis (3/16" +3/16" = 3/8") to the overall length and width of the plywood bottom which gave me 10 inches. I would suggest you cut your piece slightly over sized and then do a dry fit and make any adjustments as needed.

I slid the plywood into the bottom groove and did a dry fit to make sure all the wooden cubes fit. I used a ratchet strap to snug it all up to make sure everything fit well together.

Step 6:

Next, it was time for the glue up. I only put glue on two of the miters (see pic 3) so this means only tree sides of the frame are glued which leaves the one side the removable side. I probably should have put glue in the plywood groove as well to get a stronger bond but I didn't want to deal with cleaning up glue squeeze out so I am taking my chances that the miters will hold. If they don't, I can always just glue it back together.

I placed the non-glued fourth side of the frame in place and used a ratchet clamp to snug everything up and checked to see if it was square with my carpenter's square. I also made sure to let it dry on a flat surface. The plastic table I was working on was not very flat so I just set the frame on a piece of granite, but any flat surface will work. I let this dry overnight.

Step 7:

After the wood glue dried, I sanded all the pieces with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped them down to remove any sanding dust. Then I sprayed the entire frame with 2 coats of lacquer.

Step 8:

After the lacquer dried I used my table saw to cut the plexiglass to a 10x10 square. I checked the fit and this is when I realized my top groove was too wide. The1/8-inch-thick plexiglass was very loose in the 3/16-inch-wide groove. I had to fix this before proceeding.

Step 9:

5-minute Epoxy to the rescue! I used my table saw to cut a small strip of wood to act as a gap filler to snug up the plexiglass. I mixed up some epoxy and spread it into the top groove and also spread a thin layer on the filler piece itself. I first put the gap filler wood in the groove then I inserted the epoxy. It was a nice snug fit that tightened everything up. I assembled the frame/display case and used some 12-inch clamps to hold everything together. I wanted to make sure the epoxied plexiglass stayed in place and didn't sag. I let this dry overnight in the clamps.

Step 10:

Before painting the first thing you have to do is count how many blocks of each color you need. As trivial as this sounds make sure you get a good count I suggest counting them twice just to make sure. I goofed up several times on my counts and had to make adjustments later.

For this particular puzzle I needed:

113 White Blocks

54 Brown Blocks

45 Red Blocks

44 Beige (Natural Wood Color Blocks)

Total of 256 blocks

Step 11:

I used some paints I had from previous projects for this, so I had to get creative when it came to getting the darker old school reddish/maroon-colored overalls. I started by painting the blocks red then I used barn red(the barn red was too dark on its own) to paint over the red but I made sure to wipe it off with a paper towel before it dried. You can see the difference between the red and the darker maroon-ish color. Next, I painted the remaining blocks.

When painting I tried to be as neat as possible, I used a chisel tipped stiff brush that allowed my to get nice crisp lines along the edges. Luckily the acrylic paint dries fairly quickly so I didn't have to wait long before putting together my first puzzle.

I was really happy with how it turned out.

Step 12:

The next puzzle was going to be Luigi, my son loves Luigi, here I made sure to keep the colors groups separate so that all the white pieces of the background get painted blue, and all the brown pieces get painted green and all the maroon-ish pieces get painted white. All the beige pieces receive no paint except for the two buttons which I painted yellow. It was the same painting process for this as before.

I repeated this for each puzzle I planned to make, the key is not painting over any side you have already painted and keeping track of each cube while you paint. Counting the number of cubes and separating them by color for each puzzle is the best way to complete each of one.

Step 13:

Once you finish your puzzle if you want to display it you can slide the plexiglass over it and stand it up.

I ended up only painting 3 sides of most of the wooden blocks and was able to get five different puzzles as I was able to re-use some of the other blocks that had repeating colors. So for the Jumping Mario figure I only had to repaint a few of the blocks to make it work.

Step 14:

Earlier I stated that you could make more than 6 puzzles with a 6-sided cube well if you flip/reverse the image you create another version of the same puzzle. These are all the different versions of puzzles I can make with the blocks that I have painted. Every block still has at least one side that is not painted so technically I could choose another image and create yet another puzzle. These are my favorite, so I stopped at this point.

There are more Nintendo 8 bit characters you could choose from. For more options just Google "8-bit Nintendo Characters" which will yield quite a few options.

Step 15:

Here is a pic of all the finished puzzles. I am really happy to mark this off my to-do list and I am really happy with how it turned out. I have been wanting to make an 8 bit Super Mario display for quite some time and it feels good to finish this one. And its a nice bonus to be able to choose between so many different versions of Mario and Luigi.

I hope you found this Instructable helpful and maybe even inspiring. Thanks for your time.

Puzzles Challenge

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Puzzles Challenge