Laser Cut Puzzle

Introduction: Laser Cut Puzzle

About: I'm an arts & technology educator, film editor, and maker.

A fun weekend project. This laser cut puzzle is a great beginners project. You will need access to a laser maybe it's not totally for beginners.

Step 1: Materials

You have two options for designing your puzzle.  I used a computer, but you could do it by hand.  If you design a puzzle by hand, you will need to first draw your design using pen & paper.  Then you will need to scan your design into a computer.

If, like me, you'd like to use a computer to design your puzzle, check out this tutorial for creating a puzzle using Adobe Illustrator (my puzzle files are attached at the end of this instructable).

 - wood (I used a mixed plywood with a thickness: 0.121")
 - photo or printed image on card stock
 -  spray adhesive glue
 - newspaper (optional, if you don't care about your work space)
 - xacto knife
 - ruler
 - laser cutter
 - Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Auto CAD software (used for designing puzzle pieces and laser cutting)
 - pen & paper (optional, if you'd like to design your own puzzle pieces by hand)
 - scanner (optional, if you design your own puzzle pieces by hand)

Step 2: Prep, Laser, and Ta're Done!

To prepare your puzzle, you will first need to laser cut your puzzle shape, if you're using a simple square shape, like mine, just cut out a square.  Mine was 5"x5".

Next, you'll need a picture.  You can use a photo or print out an image (perhaps a self-made image) on card stock.  This image should fit the dimensions of your puzzle shape.  Mine was 5"x5".  Try to cut it as exact as possible.

Then, spray some adhesive onto the back of the puzzle shape and place your image on the wood, sticking it down completely.  If your image isn't completely straight or even with the sides of your puzzle shape, it's ok.  We can't all be perfect.  Just use your Xacto knife and cut off any excess.  Let it dry for a few minutes before you laser cut it.

Now, you're ready to laser cut!  And've got yourself a puzzle!  

**NB: You may need to use your Xacto to cut through some areas of the photo or card stock that don't get completely cut.

Step 3: Project Files

I use Corel Draw to laser cut and for some reason seems to duplicate each line in my puzzle, meaning it cuts each line two or three times.  :(  If you have the same problem, take extra time to edit your project in Corel first, removing those extra lines.  Otherwise your puzzle may be crispy!

I've included my Adobe Illustrator file which I also saved as an .eps file (I found that worked a little easier with Corel).  I've also included my Corel Draw file (with no extra lines).

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Simpler if you glue on your artwork first then laser cut all at once.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    Hi, please what laser machine did you use to cut?


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    @highlander007, I used a VLS2.30 (Entry Level Desktop) from Universal Laser Systems. It comes with it's own software for printing. And we prep our design using Corel Draw.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice. I'm thinking of first laser eching a piece of wood then cutting it into a puzzle.