How to Make a Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles are almost as much fun for adults to make as they are for kids to play with. Choose your subject and cut the pieces to match the user's skill.

Tools:

  • Sharp craft knife
  • Fretsaw or power jigsaw
  • Fine-toothed flat file

Materials:

  • Picture (cartoon, photograph, magazine picture, or other illustration)
  • 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch hardboard or plywood
  • Newspaper
  • Spray white shellac or polyurethane varnish

Time: About half an hour to 1 hour for a simple puzzle

Attaching the Picture

Any picture you like can be turned into a jigsaw puzzle -- a cartoon, a photograph, a magazine picture, or any illustration. Use a piece of 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch hardboard or plywood to back the picture. Trim the picture and cut the backing hardboard or plywood to the desired size, so that the picture and the backing are the same size.

Spread newspaper to protect your work surface. Place the hardboard or plywood face up on the newspapers, and the picture face down. With a spray can of white shellac or polyurethane varnish, apply a thin coat of shellac or varnish to the back of the picture and the front of the board.

Let the varnish get slightly tacky. Then, working quickly, carefully align the picture on the board, and press the two together. Smooth the picture onto the board, removing all air bubbles. Spray another coat of white shellac or varnish onto the bonded picture. Let the shellac or varnish dry completely, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Cutting the Puzzle

The maximum size of the puzzle depends on the capacity, or throat, of the saw you use to cut it; use a fretsaw for simple puzzles, a power jigsaw for more complicated ones. Use the thinnest saw blade, with the greatest number of teeth per inch, you can find; the finer the blade, the smoother the edges on the puzzle pieces.

Cut the puzzle into interlocking pieces, keeping in mind the ability of its intended user. To make large puzzles easier to handle, cut them into quarters before cutting the puzzle pieces. After cutting, check the pieces for rough edges; file any rough edges smooth with a fine-toothed flat file.

Another fun toy you can make for your kids is wooden blocks. Learn how on the next page.

For more information on do-it-yourself projects, try the following links: