Introduction: How to Make a Puzzle Rack

About: My name is Mitch. I make videos about the things I make and what I learn along the way. I have a Youtube Channel called Made by Mitch. I also love the coffee and the outdoors.

I made this puzzle rack to fit all of the Melissa and Doug Puzzles in my house. This was a specific size because I needed it to fit into an IKEA Kallax shelf. This was a fun one to figure out and it really challenged me with some of the joints. I have detailed plans available for purchase if you are interested in making your own. Enjoy!


Step 1: Cut the Wood

The first thing I had to do for this shelf was cut all the wood to size. I used the Kreg Rip-Cut to get all of the plywood ripped to width and then I cut it all to length using the miter saw.

Step 2: Cut Datos in the Sides

Next I could cut the datos in the sides of the rack. I made my shelves to be 1” apart which left a little extra at the bottom but this worked out fine for me because there are a couple larger puzzles that needed organized. To cut the datos I set the table saw height to 3/16”. I measured and marked where the shelves would be on each side, then I set the table saw fence and cut the datos. It took multiple passes for each dato slot because I don’t have a dato stack for my table saw but this worked out very well.

Step 3: Cut Rabbets in the Top, Bottom, and Backs

After the sides were complete, could move to cutting the rabbets in the top and bottom pieces. First I set the table saw blade height to ¼” and the I measured and marked where the rabbets would be. I then made multiple passes moving the fence between each pass until the rabbet was complete.

Next I cut rabbets in the back part of the shelf. I had to do this for the sides, and the top and bottom. I used the same method as I did for the previous rabbets. I set the blade height to ¼” measured and marked, then ran the boards through saw in multiple passes to get the rabbets.

Step 4: Assemble the Rack

Next I could assemble the rack. To do this, I used wood glue and lots of clamps. I first assemble the top and bottom to the sides and then once that was dry, I glued back on also making sure to use wood glue and plenty of clamps.

After the rack was assembled, I checked to make sure the shelves would fit in properly. I had to trim a few of them to fit just right. I did not glue the shelves in place. I wanted them to be free and movable.

Step 5: Cut Out the Shelves

The next thing I did was cut out all of the shelves that would fit in the dato slots I made earlier. I used 3/16" underlayment plywood for this. I first cut the shelves to width with the Kreg Rip-Cut. Then cut the them to length using the table saw.

Step 6: Install the Edge Banding

The next thing I did was install edge banding to the shelf. I thought it would look better than the exposed ply. To do this I followed the instructions on the packaging of the edge banding. It was simple to do. I cut it to size, then used an iron to press it on the edge melting the adhesive and causing it to adhere to the plywood. Then I cut off the excess. I repeated this all the way around the edge making sure it was even all the way around.

I used an exacto knife to cut notches where the shelves would slide in. This took some time, but I went slow making sure the cuts were even.

Step 7: Sand and Finish

Next I sanded everything up to 220 grit sandpaper. After sanding I applied several coats of spray shellac. This is my preference, but you could use paint or whatever finish you prefer.

Step 8: Complete

After this I could put all of the shelves in the rack, put it in the IKEA shelf, and the project was complete! Make sure to check out the video for the full how to experience and if you have any questions on the steps leave me a comment or send me a message. Detailed plans are available if you are interested in building this shelf. Thanks for reading!

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