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  • Puzzle Safety for Children

    I have been teaching pre-k for 14 years. I have been collecting calendars with plans to make puzzles for my classroom. Also, I would like to make puzzles using digital pictures. (the process to make them durable and safe). I am in hopes that the experienced scrollers from this message forum will be able to help. I need to know the process to take with these puzzles (from beginning to the end). The pattern/process that I have seen says nothing about using non-toxic materials. I want to make sure I do the right thing to make these puzzles safe for young children and last for years to come. Also,where can I buy these supplies if they are available?
    p.s. I would like to start a collection of my own puzzles, any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thank you,
    SonjaRaquel

  • #2
    SonjaRaquel:

    Try to get a copy of:
    Scroll Saw Puzzle Patterns by Patrick Spielman (with Patricia Spielman) published by Sterling press.
    --Amazon.com has the book available--

    The puzzles are very easy to cut, and are just too cute to describe.

    As for finishing, go to local Drug store and get Mineral Oil. There is a kid safe water based paint available at large craft / hobby stores. One manufacture is Delta Technical Coatings, Inc. who makes a non-toxic water based acrylic paint. web site http://www.deltacrafts.com

    ASIDE: using water based products on wood requires special techniques beyond scope of my expertise and beyond scope of this thread.

    For Pre-schoolers, you can also try woodburning (sorry, I just don't like the word "pryographic") the eyes and noses on the Speielman's puzzles.

    HTH
    Phil

    Comment


    • #3
      puzzling

      MDF or baltic birch are both good woods to use. I use "Tacky" glue to stick the puzzles on, then coat them with more tacky glue to finish them.
      I find it is important to make the pieces big enough that they are not a choking hazard. If the puzzles are the type that will fit into a tray you can use tagboard, the cardboard off the back of a note pad, on the back of the puzzle to keep things in order.
      Lobes on the puzzles should be fairly large so they wont break off.
      I used to have a tendancy to use blades that cut very thin lines. Not a good idea with younger puzzlers. They tend to get frustrated and push the pieces in anyway

      Good luck!
      CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
      "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
      Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Sonja,

        Do not use MDF, it as a man made product and has a lot of glue and who knows what else. Very bad for small children.
        I would be very careful making home made puzzles for you small children. If anything happens the parents will blame you. That is the world these days. Too bad.
        If you want to make them, use at least 3/4" thick hardwood, and use a # 7 or # 9 blade with reverse teeth. The kids have to take them apart easy, if not they start to break the pieces.
        You just glue the pattern on the wood. A lot of us like to use the 3M 77 but there are other glues you can use. You need very little, or you will not get the pattern off the wood. You might have to use a hair dryer, paint thinner to get it off otherwise. Use 2" clear package tape over the pattern, it helps to eliminate burning. I put it over the pattern, some put it first on the wood. If you want to use any finnish or paint, make sure it is approved for children.
        Mike M
        SD Mike

        Comment


        • #5
          Mod Podge is a great product to use to attach your pictures or calendars to wood - non toxic when dried. I use a wet brush and brush a thin layer on the wood. Place your picture on top, spreading it out with your hands to make sure there are no bubbles. Apply another layer of mod podge over top the picture. It will work on your calendars. I am not sure if it reacts to a photo - but you can always try it first with an extra photo.

          After it has dried well, you should be able to cut your pieces out.

          Theresa E
          Theresa

          http://WoodNGoods.weebly.com

          http://woodngoods.blogspot.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Puzzle Finish

            SonjaRaquel.....I presume when you said you were going to make puzzles from old calanders you will be gluing the calander pictures to the wood. I have experimented with gluing photographs to 1/4" poplar and cutting out the images making a 3-d scene. I glued the picture to the wood using acrylic matte varnish. After it dried I put three light coats on the surface of the picture for protection. It is waterproof when dry and requires only soap and water clean-up for your brush. Craft stores carry a paint on glue for affixing the picture to the wood. I think the matte varnish would prove durable for your purpose but you might want to do a simple prototype to " kid test" the end result. Varnish the surface and let it dry several hours before cutting rather than trying to varnish each piece after the fact!! I'm not sure it will be exactly what you want but it won't cost much to try....hope this will be of some help.
            If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by GrayBeard Phil
              SonjaRaquel:


              ASIDE: using water based products on wood requires special techniques beyond scope of my expertise and beyond scope of this thread.


              HTH
              Phil
              Phil - just curious - why does using water based products require special techniques?? I've been painting on wood for year and didn't think I was doing anything special. If you have a concern or question on it - maybe I can help.
              Theresa E
              Theresa

              http://WoodNGoods.weebly.com

              http://woodngoods.blogspot.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Theresa:

                Water based finishes raises the grain to produce a "furry" feel. Did not want to Hi-jack thread off onto sub-issues. Several options can be used to pre-seal wood before applying water based finish, but again not germain to this thread.

                SonjaRaquel:

                FYI: In creating my original post to this thread, I had to start over and in doing so I left an entire paragraph out in recomposing. So I add it now:

                SonjaRaquel, Welcome to the SSW site. Please ask away any questions you have. There are many at this site who will answer your questions. Again, welcome.

                Also, when I posted my first reply, I did not know you had posted the same questions to both New Members, and General Scrollsawing sub-forums. I should have replied in the General Scorllsawing sub-forum. Now you have to follow two seperate threads. I was trying to provide you with ideas that you didn't seem to have considered baised on your original post. Neal Moore did actually address his comments directly to the questions you asked as many of the posters who replyed in the other sub-forum.

                Phil

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK Phil - I am so used to prepping my wood and sanding it between coats, - it comes as second nature to me. If anyone else is interested in this subject we can always start a new thread.
                  T
                  Theresa

                  http://WoodNGoods.weebly.com

                  http://woodngoods.blogspot.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    SonjaRaquel:

                    Just some random thoughts on your desire to make puzzles for very young children.

                    You see the problem is the age of the children in pre-K. That alone raises lots of warning flags. If your target age group was over 8 years old, then a lot of other options open up in puzzle making. Without wandering on to side issues, as I normally do, I am going to try to focus on the difficulties of making puzzles for the children of that age group.

                    The first problem: As you know much more than I, everything goes into the mouths. Most puzzle pieces have an interlocking protuberance, sort of a squashed mushroom or lobes. These "looking a lot like a piece of candy" sticking out parts of a puzzle get a lot teeth marks. So you are looking for something "child safe non-toxic" and something which can be washed or cleaned to prevent transmission of illness.

                    Child safe non-toxic is not the same as simple Non-toxic or "food safe". Food Safe implies food comes in contact with the finish of the wood, but the finish is bonded to the wood. Only that minute portion of the finish that may rub off onto the food might be ingested. Child safe implies that part of the wood, finish, and all could be scraped off by teeth, or just bitten off and eaten. (see post script.)

                    Child-safe also assumes that the puzzle sub-strait (the wood) is also non-toxic. Thus Walnut, Red Oak, and other dark woods should not be used because a small portion of the population has allergic reaction to the oils in those woods. Use of Plywood should be avoided also (due to the glue used.) Hardwoods, like maple, don't splinter easily, and thus are harder for small children to ingest a sharp sliver of wood. Also, using a standard 1 inch thick (3/4 inch actuall dimension) also makes it harder to chew off a hunk of wood. Cutting the lobes larger in width, also help to keep the wood fibers from breaking off.

                    When you clean the puzzles, the soap, or cleaner, will slowly by repeated washing dissolve the finish or loosen the glue bond between the wood and the picture. A finish that can be re-applied safely over and over does have advantages.

                    Now the second problem: As you know the kids finger and hand co-ordination / fine muscle control is still in the developing stage. Pieces should not be too large for small hands. But I don't think small pieces are a good idea either.

                    I could go on but this post is long enough. Your own experiences with the young kids should also guide you. You know them a lot better that anyone at this forum. In the end, it is your own judgment, and how you weigh the advice given to you is what you should do.

                    Phil

                    PS: Be aware, sometimes the fine print on a "non-toxic" finish means the product is non-toxic only after the product is fully cured, not just dry but cured. Fully cured could take as long as a month, maybe longer. And the definition of "Toxic" is also a moving target because in some context it means exposure to less than some government set limits, in very specific defined situations, with this exposure to some average person (age, size, weight, etc.). Lawyers will exploit every iota of fine print.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I received an email from Sonja and after reading my post about, "if some would hurt the kids", the teacher gets the blame. First thing they do is getting a laywer.
                      She is not going to make them for the school kids. I'm sure she liked all the information about how to make puzzles.
                      Mike M
                      SD Mike

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hello everyone:

                        I was reading all the replies, and a simple idea has poped up, it could work, or not.

                        What if we "laminate" the picture from one side (the photo side), then glue it to the wood, and finally scroll cut it?

                        I think the lamination is safe, is it?

                        Mike,

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Puzzle Safety for Children

                          Thanks to everyone for lots of information about puzzles. With all the combined information I think I will just continue buying puzzles for the school children. Just don't want to take the risk. But, I will be making puzzles for my own family.
                          Thanks again,
                          -Sonja

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