If you really want to give a group of full-grown adults a hard time, give them a child's toy. Often it's the simple looking puzzles that can be the biggest challenge and this little wooden puzzle is a great deal harder to put reassemble than it looks. However it is simple to make one. We put together a little walkthrough to show you how to get it done.
Note: As this is a Craftsman-sponsored project, you'll notice a number of Craftsman tools in the photos. But here's a secret: we already owned 'em all. You can, of course, attack this project with tools of your choice.
Drill, Multi-Saw, and Worklight Combo (Craftsman)
Step 1: Pick Your Stock
First begin with whatever sized stock you'd like - in this case a 22"x14" piece of 3/4" ply. It's really not important to pick super nice lumber for this but if you wanted to finish it out with colored oil stains and poly you certainly could. Enamel was in the future for our puzzle so we stuck to ply.
Step 2: Draw a Pretty Picture
Draw whatever you want your puzzle to be on the wood in pencil. Leave a little room on the sides and top for later. It also doesn't matter if you're a not a Rembrandt just make an interesting shape that's close to what you want and remember that any shape you make is going to have to be cut out with a saw blade so fine detail is not going to get you style points anyway.
Step 3: Mark It Up
When you're pleased with the shape go over it in marker, pen or heavier pencil. Notice our robot is already very different than how we drew him the first time. That's ok, no one will ever know after we're done.
Step 4: Scribe the Outer Shape
Our puzzle will be entirely cut out of the wood so we used a simple little compass so scribe an arc on the top and bottom and drew connecting lines between them to outline the outer shape.
Step 5: Cut the Outer Shape
Next we cut the outer shape from the wood.
Step 6: Sand the Shape
If your cutting wasn't the best along the outside edge don't despair. Use a sander to even out the rough shape and make it smooth.
Step 7: Cut Odd Looking Shapes
The real trick to this type of puzzle is to make the shapes odd looking but not super distinctive. The human eye is good at picking out patterns so don't give them any easy ones. Make the shapes unique but kind of wavy and blob like.
Step 8: Cut More Pieces
Cut the rest of the puzzle pieces apart. We used our Craftsman Li-Ion Multi-Saw to carve up the needed curves however any scroll or fine bladed band saw would do as well.
Step 9: Almost Done
At this point you could call it complete after sanding the marks of it and let folks have at it but we went a different direction.
Step 10: Prep for Paint
To give our friends a sporting chance we decided to throw a bit of paint at it and color code our robot pal. A little color goes a long way here. After separation the robot got black indoor/outdoor enamel and the frame pieces received a dosing of Safety Yellow.
Step 11: Complete
The end product looked turned out pretty good. It's friendly and unassuming but a tad more of a brain buster than the average adult will often admit too. Don't believe us? Make your own version, mix the pieces up good and reassemble it. Our little 30 piece puzzle takes the average adult 13 minutes with the color coding and 23 minutes without.