Wooden State Heart Puzzle

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About: Instructables Community Manager - I am powered by sugar and rainbows! For realz!

I decided to combine the idea of a simple state ornament with heart cutout and basic wooden puzzle. The result is these cute state puzzles with a heart piece! These are meant to be for younger kids, but make sure the pieces are big enough for whoever uses it.

I have made these as mini puzzles, but I want to make a bigger version for my daughter as the pieces seem to small for her (22 months). I will update with pictures and files when I get a chance to make a larger version.

Instructable 298

Step 1: Supplies

The supplies for this project are basically the same as the Shapes Puzzle I did previously.

Supplies:

  • 1/8" wood - I'm using Birch plywood I got from mikeasaurus (I bartered with chewy molasses ginger cookies)
  • 1/4" diameter dowel - this is for the handle on the puzzle pieces, if you check out the wood section in your craft store, you might be able to find some pegs to try but I didn't get a chance to check that out before making these.
  • Wood Glue
  • Little Clamps - or whatever you like to use
  • Sandpaper - I used 220 but you can go as fine as you want with the grit
  • Paints - I'm using Rust-Oleum paint and primer in Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue
  • Shellac Clear Finish
  • Masking Tape - for laser cutting
  • Laser Cutter or appropriate Woodworking Tools

Step 2: Files

There are just so many I'm putting them a step by themselves.

If there is some variation of any of these files you want (without holes or something) just let me know)

Step 3: Design

(My design evolved so I start by just talking about what you should do if you want to repeat this.)

When it came to the design, I kept it pretty basic. I traced and brought in a simple outline of the state I wanted to start. Check out the outline of the state and round any areas you can so there aren't any sharp points. Remember, this is for kids.

Create a background in the size and shape you want (I did a square with rounded corners) and resize your state to fit inside it.

Put a simple heart in the middle of the state. Make it as big as you can while not making the other pieces have sharp small points around it.

Going out from the heart, make lines that go to the edge of the state.

Check over the puzzle and the pieces and make sure there aren't any sharp (dagger) points anywhere. If you need to, move and curve lines. What I decided after talking to my husband, is I tried to make it so there were little to no areas where the corner was smaller than 90 degrees. When you get smaller than 90 degrees, you get little stabby daggers.

Place your circle cutouts for your dowl as centered in each piece as you can. If you can't do the center, go for the part of the piece with the largest area.

Some additional notes:

You can make as many pieces as you want. I decided I didn't want a lot and I wanted them all to touch the heart. This was a personal preference.

I also decided to make the lines between pieces relatively straight. I started with more of a simple puzzle piece squiggle, but decided to go super simple.

Step 4: Laser Cutting

Time to cut everything!

This was all pretty much the same as the Shapes puzzle.

Since I'm laser cutting, I taped all the boards up front and back as well as the dowel.

Keep an eye on everything and make sure no fires start.

Step 5: Sanding and Gluing (and Sanding)

Sanding time! Start by removing all the tape.

I did a bit of sanding on each side of all the pieces and some along the edges depending on the shape of the piece.

I did a little bit of circular sanding on the ends of the dowel pieces.

Remember that the burn can transfer to the sandpaper and back to your piece so try not to smudge it on the flats of the pieces.

Once it is all sanded, glue the puzzle back pieces together and clamp them. Wipe off excess glue.

Next, carefully glue the pegs into the pieces.

Give everything time to dry and then sand it all when it's dry. Pay attention to the edge of the puzzle and flatten the backs of the pieces.

Step 6: Paint and Shellac

Finishing time!

This is the same procedure as I used with the Shapes Puzzle (again).

You can add in extra sanding where you see fit.

  • Paint all the pieces and shellac the puzzle board.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes, then give everything another coat.
  • Let everything sit for 20 minutes.
  • After the 20 minutes, flip everything over and gave the back a few sprays.
  • Let them sit for a few minutes, then give everything another coat.
  • Let everything sit for 20 minutes.
  • Flip all the puzzle pieces back to the front and spray them with shellac.
  • Wait a couple minutes and spray everything with shellac again.
  • Wait 20 minutes.
  • Flip the pieces to the back and spray them with shellac.
  • Wait a couple minutes then spray everything again.
  • Now I just let everything sit and dry.

When I was able, I moved the pieces around a bit so they wouldn't stick to the paper or box they were on.

Step 7: Done

Enjoy your little puzzles!

You can get a better idea of size here and see how small those hearts are. Remember, they can be a choking hazard for very small children.

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    8 Discussions

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    cguinee503

    Question 6 months ago on Step 7

    Great idea. Can I ask what type of laser cutter you are using? Are you happy with it?I see so many mixed reviews online...hard to decide

    3 answers
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    Penolopy Bulnickcguinee503

    Answer 6 months ago

    Thank you :)
    I have a Glowforge Pro. I am very happy with it so far. It's very easy to use and has a lot of abilities others may not. What ones are you considering?

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    cguinee503Penolopy Bulnick

    Reply 6 months ago

    Trying to decide between Glowforge, but some reviews don't like the Cloud based proprietary software and a FullSpectrum...some positive and negative reviews. Thanks for responding. I have only used an expensive laser at the local community college...trying to find a hobby one I can afford and set up.

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    Penolopy Bulnickcguinee503

    Reply 6 months ago

    They really are quite the investment, so I don't blame you for doing all your research. I'd love to hear what one you end up deciding to get in the end and how you like it :)

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    jprussack

    7 months ago

    Wow! Needing access to a laser cutter!! What wonderful gifts :)

    1 reply
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    Penolopy Bulnickjprussack

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thank you and laser cutters are fun!
    You could definetly make this with other woodworking tools, I just don't have the skills for that :)