"Little Bear" Puzzle
Step 1: Meet Henry...
...Henry likes Puzzles. Henry also likes eating puzzles. So I wanted to make a custom hardwood world class puzzle for our "Little Bear" thats he could play with and gnaw on if need be.
Step 2: I Present to You the Maple and Black Walnut "Little Bear" World Class Childrens Puzzle
If you have followed any of my previous Instructables you'll notice I have been trying to increase my amount of wood working knowledge about materials and techniques. This "World Class" childrens puzzle is a great little project to try out some new techniques and tools you have around your shop. Plus it looks and feels much better than the plywood puzzle you can buy online. So follow along as I help you design and make your own custom hardwood puzzle for your "Little Bear"
Step 3: Your Design
The most important step for making your puzzle is coming up with a design. As mentioned before Henry is know as "Little Bear" around our hood so I did a very simple sketch of a grizzly bear outline. You'll notice the loctite spray adhesive, this is to attach our sketch to the wood before hopping over to the scroll saw.
Step 4: Pick Your Stock
In the quest for wood working knowledge I have tried to use different types of woods and see how they perform. However It is hard to beat the combination of maple and black walnut. So I choose a few smaller board I had laying around. Any wood or even plexiglass would work great on this project.
Step 5: Resaw
After deciding I wanted to use the walnut inlaid into the maple I resawed the maple in half. This was done so I would be able to scroll saw out the bear profile and then re laminate the two maple board back together to have the grain line back up. It is not necessary to resaw a board if you don't have a band saw. Two thinner board laminated together will work fine.
Step 6: Scroll Saw
Your scroll saw is the workhorse for this project however it is not needed. A hand held jig saw or even a coping saw will suffice to get the profile you desire.
A few tips on using a scroll saw..
1. If you have a lighter scroll saw, like mine, clamp it to the work table
2. Do some practice cuts to see how your blade "walks". Scroll saw blades are punched out so they have a slight drag on one side and figuring out how yours performs before doing your final cuts is helpful.
3. There are many types of blades for different applications. I used one for hardwoods and took my time to get into all the tiny areas. Find the right blade for you.
FYI I have owned a scroll saw for years and never used it till this project, I didn't see a need for it, however in the last few months I have used it many times and have increased my skills in the shop. Take a little time and use the tools you have to better equip yourself in the wood shop.
Step 7: Profile and Laminate
After the bear profile was finished I used double sided tape to add it to the top of one of my maple boards. This was to insure I drew a nice pencil line profile without the work moving. After I drilled a pilot hole in the maple and feed my scroll saw blade through and cut right up to the line. After a little sanding the bear fit great.
After making sure the walnut bear fit into our maple board I laminated the two maple boards back together. Again the purpose to resaw was to get a consistent grain pattern and it paid off the maple looks very nice almost like a single solid piece.
Step 8: Punch Hole and Round Corners
After the two boards are glued back together we jump over to the drill press for a punch hole. This little hole helps you push the parts of the bear out from the back.
Also I put a radius on the maple board to soften the corners. This can be done on the band saw, scroll saw, or coping saw.
Step 9: Router (Optional)
After the maple board was almost done I felt the front edges needed some profiling. So I took a 45 degree chamfer bit to the face edge and punch hole to smooth everything out. You could also simple sand it down.
Step 10: The Big Moment
Now is the time to cut your profile in pieces! I cut our bear into 3 simple shapes, Henry is only 1 year old, and that seems to be a good number for this small project but you can be as creative as possible. I recommend sketching out your lines before cutting just to be safe.
Step 11: Finish
Using organic beeswax and food grade oils I mixed up a paste to use as a finish for the Little Bear puzzle. Lets be honest the kid likes puzzles but like chewing on stuff as well so I needed a kid safe paste to protect the hardwood as much as possible.
Step 12: Done!
Now you are done with a little time and elbow grease you can make a World Class Childrens Puzzle that will last a very long time. I hope you enjoyed my little wood working Instructable and I hope it will earn a woodworking vote from you. Thank you and please post pictures if you decided to make your own custom puzzles.