Introduction: Shapes Puzzle for Child

This is a shapes puzzle for a child. It is designed to be simple for the child to play with and learn about shapes. However it is not simple to make.


The board is approximately 12" X 16". It could be larger or smaller as you wish.

The board consists of two layers. For the top layer, in which the shapes fit, I used 1/4" MDF. For the bottom layer, I used 1/4" birch plywood. Both layers could be plywood or could be MDF.

The idea is that the shapes will fit so that each shape rises above the puzzle back and can easily be picked up.


Each puzzle shape is approximately 4" X 4" and is 1/2" thick. See patterns in Step 1.

Valentine - one piece

Star - one piece

Clover - one piece

Triangle - two pieces

Circle - three pieces

Square - four pieces


The biggest challenge of making this puzzle is getting the five-sided shapes, star and clover, to fit correctly. They must be completely regular, that is, each of the five sections must match exactly so the shape will fit into the opening no matter how the child puts it in.


Making this puzzle requires power equipment. Please make sure all your actions are safe. A puzzle is not worth a personal injury.


Back -- I used 1/4" plywood and 1/4" MDF. Two layers are needed.

Shapes -- 1/2" plywood or solid wood.

Sandpaper and files

Primer and paint.


Table saw; Band saw or scroll saw; Belt sander; Disc sander

Step 1: Choose Patterns

The shapes above are regular. This is especially important for the star and clover. It is very important that each shape fit into the opening on the board, no matter how the child puts it down. Cutting, comparing and sanding are very important. Preparing shapes and holes on the board was very time-consuming for me.

I tried to use patterns from a craft store made for Christmas decorations, but I found they are not regular and therefore not suitable except for the circle and the square.

Step 2: Apply Patterns and Cut Shapes

I used 1/2" plywood for five shapes and 1/2" hemlock for the square. I cut shapes using band saw, table saw and scroll saw.

Step 3: Sand the Shapes

I did some sanding on a belt sander or a disc sander, but most sanding and filing was by hand. There will be more sanding, filing and fitting in a later step after the patterns have been cut into the back.

Step 4: Arrange Shapes on Back of Puzzle and Transfer Patterns

After arranging the shape, I used a pencil to draw around the shapes. Then I drilled holes for using scroll saw.

Step 5: Cut Patterns Into Back

I used a scroll saw to cut patterns into the back. At every step, I tested how the pattern fit into the hole I had just cut and I sanded to ensure proper fit. Comparing, fitting, rotating, sanding and filing was very time-consuming. Sometimes I found it better to sand and file the shape. Other times I found it better to sand and file the hole in the back of the puzzle.

Step 6: Glue Second Layer to Back

For the second layer I used 1/4" plywood. I attached it using wood glue and clamped it for 2 hours.

Step 7: Apply Primer and Paint

Primer and paint add a little thickness, so check regularly to ensure your shapes have not become too large. Sand them if you find them too large. Also check to make sure that the star and clover can easily be rotated into any of the five possible positions.