Introduction: Penguin Scroll Saw Puzzle

About: 16yr old entrepreneur and creator

Traaaaaaaa tra tra tra tra tra traaaaaaaaaaaaa [enter fanfare here] Please welcome...our nameless mascot. :(

This little Alantics mascot is (as you can see) a penguin jigsaw puzzle, stained beautifully (even if I say so myself!). I received a scroll saw for my 11th birthday and thus was the birth of an ark of jigsaw animals.

These animals really took off when our school did an 'earn and learn'. What 'earn and learn' is, is a program where each student (or group of students) are required to set up a 'business' for a term. At the end off the assignment they open this 'business' to the wider community and sell REAL things with REAL money (and then donate it to charity). It was very exciting - back then. And we made heaps of money. (For primary school kids, that is!)

So, today, I want to share our new mascot with you. Happy crafting!


- Wood (duh)

- Paper

- Printer

- Glue

- Scissors

- Scroll Saw (also duh)

- Jig Saw

- Belt Sander

- Sandpaper

- Drill

- Wood oil (I used an Oil Based Cabothane Clear)

- Dark Wood stain (I used Oil Based Coco-Black stain)

- Gloves

- Plastic Bags

- Paper Towel

- Screwdriver (to open cans)

Step 1: Source Your Timber

Ok, so, the first step is to get your wood. You can skip this step if you want but you might need to give up because I can’t see you making one of these without wood.

My wood was 2cm thick treated pine and I got it from the local hardware store. You can use thinner stuff if you want an easier cut. I wouldn’t recommend going any thicker than 2cm because it becomes hard to cut with a scroll saw, and you get kinda sore arms. I used treated pine because I knew that most of the penguin was going to be stained, and from experience treated pine stains really well. You could use something lighter in colour if you want a more contrast in the stain, for example, Aspen is really pail. This would mean the penguin would look more black and white, than cream (wood is going to be oiled) and black.

Sorry, I don’t know how much this cost because I bought the wood quite a while ago, it wasn’t too expensive from memory.

Step 2: Find Your Template

If I was a pro and could draw I would have skipped this step, but hey, I am not a pro (just yet) and cannot draw (at all). Hence the reason I used a template out of a book that I got called, Animal Puzzles for the Scroll Saw. The template can be seen in the pictures above.

I just photocopied mine at 100%, you guys can probably download it from my pictures or find it on the web somewhere. Several things need to be taken into consideration when finding your template:

1- If you are not doing this penguin, but another template that you drew or found, PLEASE don’t choose something that is hard if this is your first time making these. It might look cool, but can be VERY hard. As stated in the intro, I have made these before, quite a few times. However I am still cutting out intermediate patterns.

2- Don’t photocopy the picture too small, you may have an easy template but if it is photo copied small, it’s going to be just as hard as a complicated pattern, if not harder! The itsy bitsy parts are not only REALLLLY hard to cut out, but they also snap, which makes you MAD and frustrated.

Step 3: Cut and Stick Template

So, I recommend cutting out the template because of obvious reasons. Cut around the outside of the penguin, stay at least 1cm away from the edge. Once this is done, we need to glue the penguin to the wood.

Make sure you take careful notice of which way the template says which way the grain should be running. You can see in the pictures that mine was to be running up and down the penguin. Once the penguin has been cut out and is ready to glue, ensure it is in line with the grain and only glue around the edge of the template. This is because, if you only glue around the outside, it is easier to peel the paper off once you have finished cutting out the piece.

For further reference see the photos or if you need more help, ask question in the comments section below.

Step 4: Cut Around the Edge

This step is purely for convenience. It is SO much easier to handle a piece of wood and cut it with two hands or even one (you have to be pretty skilled to do it with one I think). So, just get you jig saw, and cut around the edge of the pattern, leave a bit of space so you are holding wood that doesn’t have template paper on it.


Step 5: Scroll Sawing!

Ok, here is the big job! I hope you guys have patience, because if you don’t, I am really sorry but you are going to have to stop here. Here is a few very handy steps for while you cut out your template…

- Cut out the SMALLEST and most DETAILED parts first. This is because it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard to cut out a small piece if it doesn’t have supporting wood around it. You will probably hash the job and cut yourself. Please trust me, it has happened before (I haven’t cut myself but I have hashed a job, as in REALLY bad!). You can see the order in the pictures for further reference if you are struggling to come up with a pattern.

- Go very, very, very, slowwwwwwlllllly. This way you will get a good quality cut that will follow the lines well.

- When you get close to a corner, start the curve earlier than the line does. This is because it will make the curve easier to follow, instead of COMPLETELY overshooting the line.

- SAFETY FIRST. I am warning, please, please, please be careful. I am really going to stress this, KEEP YOU FINGERS AWAY FROM THE BLADE! If you cut yourself, I am taking absolutely NO responsibility for it. (sorry)

So just follow those hints and follow the lines, be careful and slow, and everything should go well.

Step 6: Cut and Cut Some More...

Ok, so we need to cut, and cut, and cut. This takes a little while but just make sure you follow the steps and you will soon be finished the cutting part of the puzzle.

Once you have cut out each part, peel the paper off. Not all the paper will come off, you will use the belt sander to get this off.

DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE I MADE! You can see in the previous pictures that there is an eye that needs drilling. I took the head paper off before I drilled the eye, please do not do this!

Step 7: Drilling the Eye

You guys could probably skip the first part of this step, (marking out the eye), but I included it just in case anyone is as dumb as me and makes the mistake listed in the step above.

With the help of the template, I managed to redraw the eye, well it sorta looks like the penguins dead but, trust me! Now use a 3mm drill bit to drill the hole of the eye. Ensure that you go the whole way through. Once you have come out one end, turn it over and go back through the whole to clean up any imperfections.

Step 8: Belt Sanding

Its Belt Sanding time, with belt sanding we will only be doing the BIG parts of each piece, we will do the itsy bitsy parts in the next step.

Sorry, I tried to upload a video but for some reason it doesn’t work for me, so I will just explain it…

1- Sand the paper off the face and other faces

2- Sand sharp big edges on both side

3- Sand large outer edges

Do this for every single step, bear in mind that this is NOT supposed to be a perfect sand and we will be making it smooth in the next step. You will be able to see from the photos that they are rough, don’t stress, this is the way it is supposed to be.

I made the mistake (becoming too common!) of sanding near a thin part on the beak, this meant that it snapped [enter crying]. Please don’t make this mistake and only sand thick stuff!

Step 9: Hand Sanding

Hand sanding is BORING! If you guys are making one of these penguins or using another template, when you come to this step, I think that you will find the same thing.


Want to know something? You have to do it. This is a bit harsh but if you want your scroll saw puzzle to be of the highest quality, yes, you have to hand sand. So first we need some sand paper, I was clean out so I ran out to the shops (I actually drove) and bought some P120 sandpaper. This is a good roughness (I am not sure if that is the right word…) and it gives it a mainly smooth finish while still taking a nice bit of wood of so you get nice rounded edges but you don’t have to work too hard to get them.

If you have thin parts in your penguin or other template, be very careful. You can see the technique that I used in the pictures above, stick the sand paper down the cut and move back and forward VERY SLOWLY.

Check out the progress pic, this is what it should be looking like(ish).

LOL, I never knew that a wood penguin would come out with red eyes, I should have done red eye reduction! ;)

Step 10: Oiling Belly Pieces

Good news guys, we are going to make up for the previous step! How? With oil! Sorta…

Ok, now we are going to oil the two belly pieces, if you don’t know which ones these are, check the first photo. Now before you start the oiling I am just going to run through a few things that you MUST do –

1- WEAR GLOVES! If you don’t wear gloves, you are going to have sticky, disgusting feeling hands. Now, let me tell you something, oil is extremely hard to get off hands, hence the reasons you are going to wear gloves.

2- Use TWO plastic bags when pouring the oil. Why? Once I was making another animal and came to the oiling stage. I only used one bag, that one bag a hole in it. It also had oil in it, only for about 30 seconds though. If you want to keep your oil and not have a ton of mess to clean up, I suggest you use two bags, JUST IN CASE.


So, once you have done all the things listed above, undo the lid of the oil can using your screwdriver, if you have one of those tool things for this you can use that. Give the oil a stir because there is often large lumps at the bottom. Now very carefully pour the oil into the inner plastic bag (see photos) Dunk your first piece in and make sure it is fully covered by oil. Leave it in the oil for about 15 seconds and then take it out and let the oil drip into the bag. Once this is done you can lay the pieces on the paper towel and let the drying begin! *phew*

Step 11: Spraying the Rest

Ok, in this step we pretty much do what we did in the last step, but we use our Coco-black stain on the rest of the parts.

No, you can actually take NO notice of what I just said, we are NOT going to use coco-black stain, because IT DOESN’T WORK! This is mega frustrating, and only try and stain the woods if you are trying to see how long it takes until you start to get really mad.

Please let me explain…

Once upon a time, there was this person trying to make a really cool penguin out of wood, the penguin was going to be two toned, this was going to be done by oiling some of the pieces and stain the rest with coco-black stain. The person was making an instructable on this project and hoped it was going to turn out looking AMAZING… Once the two oiled pieces were dry, they looked amazing! Come the staining, and this was not to be! When the first pieces had been stained, the really bad de-staining gang came during the night and ensured that the pieces had not stained like they should have. In the morning the person found to their great dismay that the pieces had hardly stained at all (because the de-staining gang are not perfect). They retried to stain the pieces but the same thing happened. Thing now went onto a LARGE scale and the person was forced to soak their pieces overnight in stain! However, the de-staining gang are extremely crafty and still managed to find a way to ensure that the pieces didn’t come out right. Out of pure frustration, the person was forced to buy a can of matt black spray paint the paint the pieces of the puzzle.

This is what happened to me, sort of.

So, what we need is a can of matt black spray paint and just simply spray all your pieces so they come out a nice contrasting and sharp black.

Step 12: Admire!

Yay, we have finished our cool black and white penguin mascot puzzle thing, and it looks great. I am really pleased with how our final product came out. If you guys ever make one of these, I hope the instructions help you and it turns out as great as ours.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.