Introduction: Gear Puzzle

Hey guys,

Today we're going to make a gear puzzle using CNC machine. You can challenge yourself and your friends with this innovative game. What's special about this one is that it's easy to make and DIY so you can enjoy this puzzle with friends and family in the making and playing.

So, let's get started!

Step 1: Requirements

For this project we're going to need the following list of items.

  • CNC Machine (we used Shopbot PRS Alpha).
  • Plywood 15mm thick (240cm X 120cm CNC bed size) to make the gears.
  • MDF wood 7mm thick (240cm X 120 cm CNC bed size) to make the board.
  • Metal rods 8mm diameter cut by saw to make gear shafts.
  • Sanding paper to finish the parts.
  • Dremel to finish in between the teeth of the gears.
  • Small bearing, screw and nuts to make a handle.
  • 3D printer (to print a handle to rotate the first gear).

Step 2: Designing and Drawing

We started by using Inkscape to make the design to be cut by the CNC later. We used Gear Generator which is a very helpful tool used in this project for creating the gears layout. you can make your own arrangement and gear pitch diameter for compact sizes.

The gears were downloaded one-by-one using gear generator (Created by Abel Vincze/Iparigrafika LTD.). we arranged them inside inkscape file with the size of the CNC bed in mind.

After arranging the gears with little clearance between the teeth to allow smooth rotation. We copy them to be cut in another board of plywood keeping their center only on the board design to install the shafts later.

gear designs are in a different file to be cut on the plywood.

You can find the gears and board designs inside the "gears" and "board" files in PDF and SVG.

In the design I put a motivating sentence and fablab dhahran logo (in the board), hints to help solve the puzzle on the gears.

Step 3: Cutting the Gears, Board and Shafts

Using the CNC we cut 7mm thick MDF Wood to create the board 128cm X 97cm with holes for gear shafts (0.7cm diameter circles) which I enlarged later because they were too small for the shafts.

Then we used 15mm Plywood to cut the gears which took a considerable long time.

Lastly, we manually cut the metal rod we have to a length that would extend a little bit beyond the gear when fixed on the board (this process was very tiring. If you can any ready-made rods with desired length it would save you time and energy)

Step 4: Connecting the Pieces!

So we have a board of MDF wood, plywood gears and small shafts. We start by putting the shafts in place (I used Superglue). You can use the design file as a reference for one time to get to know the answer.

We used a small bearing and screw with three nuts as spaces to be used as a handle.

Step 5: Enjoy !!

Now you can enjoy this with anyone you want and you can add, arrange, parent gear and fix it how ever you like.


  • I couldn't engrave the hints on gears because it would take an extreme amount of time. Font size was small meaning I had to use V-bit to create them so we skipped this step but I plan to use the laser cutter we have at Fablab Dhahran.
  • Use gear rims, using rims will reduce the weight noticeably (since I used 15mm plywood). I used it with the largest gears but I think it would be creative to cut triangles or any shape you want to create decorative look and reduce weight too.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. For any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.