Introduction: Wooden Puzzle #2

My roommate has a bunch of cool wooden puzzles, and I thought I'd share the fun. This is the second of the puzzles, and a bit more challenging than the first. Note: this is not my design. I did create the Illustrator file with the parts, but the idea of the puzzle came from a puzzle company that my friend got the original puzzle from. The box is long lost though so I do not know who owns the creative rights to this puzzle. If you know, please mention it in a comment so I can properly acknowledge them.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to make the puzzle and how to assemble it.

Download the attached Illustrator files (or the DXF if you are using a different design program).

Required tools:

CNC Laser Cutter

Sand paper or isopropyl alcohol

Wood finish (optional)

Required material:

~4" x 12" of 1/2" plywood or acrylic


Step 1: Cutting Out the Pieces

Head over to your laser cutter and cut the file out. For the purposes of this tutorial, I will have to assume that you have access to and operator's knowledge of a cnc laser cutter. Since both the software and hardware vary from laser to laser, instructions on how to operate the laser I am using will most likely be meaningless or incorrect on your laser.

First cut the file '12 pieces'.

There are some special directions for one piece though. Using your laser software, cut out the piece called 'guide' at specific coordinates. For example, when I was positioning the file in the laser software, I positioned it at x = 3.000, y = 3.000. After that one is cut, you will want to open the 'key' file. Put one of the 12 pieces you cut out first inside the hole left by the guide piece, as shown in the images. Now, open the 'key' file in your laser software and position it at the same spot as the other file (in my case, x = 3.000, y = 3.000). This allows you to cut 3D features using a laser cutter. How cool is that?

Step 2: Cleaning the Pieces

When you cut half inch plywood on a laser, the edges can be quite charred (look at my hand D: ). We don't want our hands to get charred every time we play with the puzzle, so we are going to clean it up a bit. You can either wet a cloth with isopropyl alcohol and wipe down the pieces, which cleans it enough to prevent char bits from getting on your hands, or you can sand the pieces to remove the outer layer of charred wood. Either method works, or you can even do a combination of both methods.

Step 3: Finishing the Pieces

I opted to add a wax finish to really insulate the pieces and keep the charred edges from being a problem. It also gave the wood a nice sheen. To be honest, I was 100% pleased with how the puzzle's final look came out to, although learning how to laser cut in 3 dimensions was very fun. I may re-hash this puzzle later using a different method to avoid the charred edges.

Note: the next step is assembly, so if you want to figure out how to put it together on your own STOP HERE.

Step 4: Assembly

This puzzle is a little more tricky to assemble than the first one I posted. Since all the pieces look the same with the exception of the 'key' piece, I will rely heavily on the images to explain how to assemble it. Set the key aside, you will need it last.

Make a structure that resembles picture 2 using 6 of the pieces. Next, add two cross peices as shown in figure 3. After that, you will want to add the second cross piece to the back, with the 2 top pieces half inserted. See picture 4 for exactly what I mean here. After this is done, add the key to the last remaining spot.

Next, you will lower down one of the vertical pieces (see picture 6). Once it is lowered, the key can be slid to the left, allowing for the left most of the half inserted top pieces to be fully inserted. After this is done, push the key back to its original position, and push the vertical piece back up as well. Now, you just have to slide the other half inserted top piece all the way in, and presto, the puzzle is complete!

To take it apart, you just have to do those steps in reverse. Hope you like the puzzle! If you enjoyed this, stay tuned as I will be making more complex ones in the coming weeks.

Note: Each type of laser is different, and yours may use slightly different settings than mine, resulting in a different kerf. This could make the pieces not fit together appropriately. If the pieces are too loose, consider scaling down the file by about 5% and trying again. Likewise, if the pieces are too tight and don't slide together, scale the file up by about 5% and cut the pieces again.

Makerspace Contest 2017

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest 2017