Introduction: Wooden Brain Bender 3-D Puzzle

This wooden puzzle is an easy and quick project that can be made out of scrap wood and any type of dowel or small pipe. The puzzle can made simple to be appropriate for young children, or more complex to be a higher difficulty level for adults.


1. Scrap wood: At least 1" x 1" x 4". Either 1 piece or multiple pieces glued together. You can really make this puzzle any size you want depending on what materials you have available.

2. Dowel or pipe (around 1/2"-1" diameter) Cut to length of puzzle

3. Wood Glue


1. Saw (Either band saw, table saw, chop saw, or hand saw)

2. Sand paper (or electric sander)

3. Drill and drill bit that is the same size as the dowel (drill press makes things easier)

4. Clamps

Step 1: Choose Your Wood and Cut to Size

Decide what pieces of wood you are using and what size puzzle you want to make. I suggest at least 1" x 1" x 4", and you can scale up from there. You can glue pieces of wood together and then cut to size or use one piece of wood. Having changes in the wood tone will make the puzzle easier to do when it is finished.

Step 2: Decide on Puzzle Piece Design

Draw the angles of the cuts onto your wood. You will want to only do straight cuts if you are using a table saw or chop saw, but can get more complex with curved cuts if you are using a band saw. Cut out the top piece using the top line as your guide.

Step 3: Drill Your Dowel Holes

Measure the center of both pieces and drill into both making sure your hole is centered all the way down. Do not drill all the way through your pieces, leaving at least 1/8" thickness at the bottom of each piece.

Step 4: Cut the Remaining Peices

Cut on the previous drawn lines to separate all the pieces

Step 5: Cut and Glue the Dowel

Arrange all your pieces on the dowel and make a mark where the dowel should be cut to allow for all the pieces to be on the dowel without too much space between the pieces. Glue the dowel to the bottom piece.

Step 6: Finish

You are basically completed, but can spend extra time sanding smooth and adding any finishes you want such as stains, oils, varnishes, etc.

Step 7: Play and Solve!

Play with your new puzzle and make lots more. There are so many options to make this puzzle appropriate to different levels. Paint numbers on the pieces to help teach counting and number identification. Make each piece a different color or a pattern of colors. Make the angles of the cuts very subtle to make the puzzle more difficult. Share what you make, I'd love to see what you come up with.

Design For Kids Challenge

Runner Up in the
Design For Kids Challenge

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017