Make Your Own Puzzle





Introduction: Make Your Own Puzzle

About: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit for more projects and info.

Paintings and photos are fun, but you know what's more fun? PUZZLES!

If you have a laser cutter, it is really easy to make art into puzzles.

I found the art for my puzzles at a flea market and on the street, but you could use any art for this project. If you are a painter this is also a great way to make a personalized puzzle for a friend or family member.

Step 1: Design

I used Illustrator to design two simple puzzle patterns. Since the patterns are vectors in Illustrator it is easy to scale them to the size of the painting in question. Also, with a few simple manipulations it is pretty easy to add unique rows of pieces. I have attached an illustrator file with two puzzle designs in it. Feel free to use either or edit one to make a new design.

Step 2: Prepare

Some paintings are conveniently painted on thick cardboard or plywood, but more frequently they will be on paper or canvas. If this is the case, you can use spray adhesive to attach the art to a more appropriate backing.

Step 3: Cut

I suggest scaling the file in Illustrator so that it is at least 1/4 inch away from each edge of the painting. This way you can be sure that the edges of the puzzle do not extend farther than the painting and all the edges of the pieces will match.

Set the laser cutter to something a bit stronger than you would if you were just cutting the backing material and you are ready to hit the go button.

Step 4: Play

It's puzzle time! Get your rainy day face on and start finding edge pieces, because this might take a while.

Big thanks to all the anonymous artists who's work I used for this project.

If you painted any of the paintings (especially the one in the video) let me know. I am really curious about who that guy is. Some of my friends think its Leonardo Dicaprio, but it's impossible to tell for sure.



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    46 Discussions

    If the artwork was engraved on wood would the burning of the laser though it interfere with the artwork? I didn't see that with your puzzle but it wasn't wood.

    8 replies

    Lasers powerful enough to cut wood will burn the edges. That's what they do to cut. Burn their way through whatever it is you cut.

    Like I said, I don't think barley would interfere with your picture unless you sprinkled some on top of your picture before laser cutting it.

    I was joking too after I misspelled barely.

    I would be cool if you put something like pebbles on top of a piece of wood then you engraved the whole piece of wood so where the pebbles were the wood wouldn't be engraved and there would be a cool pattern on the piece of wood.

    This is awesome! Since I don't have a laser cuter, however, it would be difficult to accomplish. What kind of laser cutter did you use? Where does one get one? Are their services available to do this kind of work? Thanks!

    10 replies

    Thanks. I used an Epilog laser cutter. It is a really great tool, but also quite expensive. I recommend looking around in your area for laser cutter services. They are getting more common and less expesnive every day.

    You must be on a different planet to me Coby. I just priced getting an srA3 (roughly13"x19") jigsaw cut after I had vacuum mounted (oh yeah, I've got one of these I made 20 years ago) a photo to a 1.6mm board and they said it would cost $45... If I ordered 10 of them. For one they wanted an extra $23 for setting up the cut.

    When I queried the price they told me it cost them over $89,000 for the laser and they have to get a return on that investment. In any case... It would be 3 weeks before they could 'slot it in'. I thought that statement quite ironic given what I wanted cut. A similar size jigsaw at ToysRus is $19.99

    I really love this site. The ingenuity of people who make really useful products from scrap (IE the pallet items) is nothing short of amazing. Showing us what we can do with equipment we will never in a million years be able to afford really is no more or less a demonstration the manufacturers of the Laser should be paying you to produce. No one here has an Epilog in their cupboard waiting for casual use... Well no one I know at any rate.

    One of our library branches has a design/innovation center with a laser cutter and a couple of 3D printers. You have to take a course first to learn to use it then you can book time there. So this instructable is useful for those in my area. Others may have access to similar equipment in their area.

    There also instructables on here that require all kinds of electronics know how or advanced woodworking tools the average person doesn't own...well no one I know at any rate.

    Let's all be supportive like the be nice policy says.

    The be nice policy is one of the most important parts of Instructables. Thanks for helping keep it strong.

    I'm surprised you see my truthful reply as "not nice". The reality of life is that if you need a $50,000 machine to make a product described here or, it costs 4 times the price of buying a ready made jigsaw that you could stick an inkjet print over and cut the pieces out with razor blade, I happen to believe readers ought to know that your statement of getting one laser cut genuinely needs correction.

    I actually went to the trouble of following your instructions only to discover the "getting cheaper every day" statement you made couldn't be further from the truth. After discovering the cost of getting one cut was close to what I live on for a week, I decided not to disappoint my grandson and printed a second one, stuck it on a bought jigsaw and cut around the shapes (4 hours).

    I agree entirely that "keep it nice" is a great idea. So is "keep it truthful" when telling people if they look around they are sure to find someone who will cut if for them. I sure found one who would so my "Keep it nice and truthful" policy kicked in and I told you.

    I'm truly sorry if you feel my telling others what I found when I attempted to engage my grandson in a joint project we could do together: Follow your instructable, made you and JamesK8 think I was not being nice... But neither was the boy's reaction when together we went to get his drawing cut into a jigsaw, turned to total disappointment at the cost.

    Had both of you just let it go, no one else appears to think a truthful comment was not nice. To satisfy you and JamesK8, I'll report myself and see what the moderator thinks is nice or not nice. That should end it once and for all.

    Hello Douglas J1, I am researching a cutter as I am a hobby artist and I want to try make personalized puzzles as part of a start-up business. I always go on forums so I could find feedback from others and prefer truthful accountings and descriptions of potential challenges. I find your comments valuable and thank you for that :)

    I'm sorry you feel so negatively about this instructable. I try to use the tools I have access to in new and creative ways and encourage people to make more things rather than buying them.

    I don't find DouglasJ1's comment(s) any 'overtly negative', it was more 'constructive' than anything. Because, it's true that not everybody has an access to a laser cutter or laser cutting services at affordable rates. You can't expect everybody to appreciate your contribution the same way(the way you would like). Some without an access to right tools, let alone a space to work, would still appreciate and admire your project(s) AND make such comments as DouglasJ1's. I used to be lucky with laser cutters when I was at uni, after that not so much. It's still a huge investment to make if you'd want one for yourself, and not very affordable to hire, or just to use the machine - although it depends on the area/part of the world you live in.

    Thanks for getting back to me! I did look online right after I emailed and was surprised at the high cost of these machines....I'll look around. What kind of places might have these, do you know? I'm in the Seattle area. Thank, again.