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First Puzzle - A few Q's

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  • First Puzzle - A few Q's

    This is my first puzzle and in fact my first work with a scroll saw. I recently bought one of the Delta model 690s and after cutting through the lid of a cigar box a few times and trying some slow and steady curves through .75" Baltic birch I gave this a shot...

    I know you can't tell much of the scale of the project from the picture but I would guess (I'm not ready with a ruler at the moment) that the whole project is 10"+ long. I still need to drill a hole for an eye.

    I think it's about .5" board. Maybe Oak? I used two #5 FDs. First blade started burning (the wood also) after making the entire silhouette cut and just a few pieces. Second blade lasted through the rest of the puzzle and still has a little life left in it.

    Should I be getting a tighter kerf with a #5? I guess I should have stretched the puzzle a little to show the actual gap between the pieces.

    I'd like to give this to my 4 year old to play with but I would love to finish it with something. I don't care to paint it but I do have some BLO I could apply. Perhaps I could add a drop of green food coloring before adding the oil? Although I think the food coloring is water based??? And what's the best way to apply a finish to a puzzle like this? Piece by piece? Dip it and string it up letting the pieces remain connected to drip dry? Will BLO make a tacky bond between the pieces if applied while the puzzle is intact?

    Thank you all in advance for your help.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Thirston; 02-28-2012, 10:22 PM.

  • #2
    Nicely done on your puzzle.

    Welcome A Board!! You will be hard pressed to find a friendlier or more knowledgeable group on the net re: woodworking. Share your knowledge and do not hesitate to ask questions. The only dumb question is the one that remains unasked.

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    "Still Montana Mike"

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    • #3
      Just a tip...

      Here is the preferred way to post photos. This method will apply a thumbnail so that messages load faster, keeping those who are still on dial up in mind.

      If it is a new thread scroll down below the message box to additional options and look for manage attachments,Click on Manage Attachments, click Browse, find your file name on your computer, click it, then click Upload. It may take a few seconds to load.
      Once you see the file name under current attachments you can close the window.
      If you want you can Preview Post (a wise choice) then if all is well, click on Submit reply.

      If you are uploading a picture to an existing thread (conversation)
      Click on the Go Advanced button under the reply box, Click on Manage Attachments, click Browse, find your file name on your computer, click it, then click Upload. It may take a few seconds to load.
      Once you see the file name under current attachments you can close the window.
      If you want you can Preview Post (a wise choice) then if all is well, click on Submit reply.
      Good luck
      "Still Montana Mike"

      "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
      Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC


      • #4
        nice job on your first puzzle......."the more ya cut the better ya get!!"

        "The Journey is the Reward"


        • #5
          They (Flying Dutchman) make special ultra-thin blades for puzzles, but I'm unsure how well they work on a 1/2" (moderately thick) oak board. I liek the idea of 1/2" thick wood for a kid's puzzle, but most people seem to use 1/4" plywood (birch and poplar). I'm new to this as well and also just got a Delta 690.


          • #6
            Hi Thirston,

            Great start! I usually use a #5 with 3/4" wood for wooden puzzles like that. I only worry about the pieces being tight enough if I want the puzzle to stand up, and then I do so by adding more locks rather than by worrying about the kerf. For a 1/2" lie down puzzle I wouldn't worry about it at all, especially if the target audience is four years old. The advantage of moving to a smaller blade would be that you can make tighter turns and might be able to have fun with fancy lock shapes.

            For finishing I usually sand the blank to 200 before starting (I'd also drill the eye beforehand since it's easier to manage the larger blank). After cutting, I give the individual pieces a shot on a mop sander to smooth the edges. Once I chase down all the pieces that flew across the room I clean them off and then give them a quick dunk in Danish oil. I let that sit a moment then wipe it off and let the piece dry in a rack made from crumpled up aluminum foil. Once the pieces are dry they don't feel tacky.

            Like Block suggests, I use 1/4" ply and FD puzzle blades for picture puzzles, but they're really a different animal. I prefer thicker wood for silhouettes like your triceratops .



            • #7
              It looks like your cutting maple or birch there. The #5 will leave a fairly wide kerf but the pieces will go together a lot easier. You could use a smaller blade but you'll need to be careful that you keep the cuts perpendicular otherwise you can only get the puzzle pieces to fit in one direction, the smaller blades tend to bow, or flex with thicker harder woods. At 1/2" thick you might get away with a #3 but you'll spend quite a bit more time cutting and go through more blades. I would cut the perimeter with the largest blade you can - #9? Then use your #5 or #3 for all interior cuts. If you round the edges a little on the puzzle pieces the kerf will become much less noticeable as well or maybe it looks more natural or something - try it, you'll like it (ha). A puzzle the size your doing has pieces large enough to do this. A sanding mop makes quick work at that.

              As for finishing - I usually soak my pieces for a few minutes in oil and then allow them to dry on a paper towel. I just drop the pieces in a jar or tin pan filled with oil and fish them out a few minutes later with a pair of tweezers. You'll want to make sure that whatever you use is ok for a kid to chew on.
              Douglas Fraser
              Eagle River, Alaska

              My Gallery - Aurora Wood Crafts


              • #8
                I agree, cutting solid wood with a thin blade tends to cut at a slant making it frustrating to go together, especially for a kid. Also, if you are considering any paint, this makes the pieces thicker at the joints and thus very tight fit or not at all.
                I did a jigsaw puzzle for a friend's granddaughter making the pieces large and used the superior puzzle blade. Pieces fit together very well, but not for a four year old, needs to be sloppier.

                On you puzzle, I would try and make the knobs more pronounced so they lock a little better, but all in all, great job.


                • #9
                  Thank you all for your help. I'll try to fix (convert) the images to thumbnails now.

                  I'm not sure if my Boiled Linseed Oil is kid safe or not but I don't recall my kid getting a hankerin' for wood lately I'm quite sure he'll find his way to the fridge before he starts nibbling on the puzzle pieces.

                  I've never "oiled" wood before. Do I need to worry about any remaining marks from where the pieces sat while drying (like you would if it were painted)? I'll figure it out one way or another and learn eventually. I'm not too worried about this puzzle as it's my first.

                  I wish I had some .25" BB ply to work with but I'm working on a budget for now. I paid a pretty penny for the saw and a half gross of FD blades from Mikes so I'm using free cigar boxes from the local Smoke Shop, and free end cuts (mostly .75") from a local cabinet maker. Cherry, Oak, Maple, and the Baltic Birch Ply seem to be what he has the most of. The piece I used here (.5") was about the thinnest stuff he had the last time I was there. I might check out my local hardware store for some MDF this week if I can find the time.


                  • #10
                    Hi Thirston,

                    If you let it cure completely it should be inert and kid safe. If you search the forum for kid safe finishes this has been discussed several times (possibly even with references beyond "It's on the interwebs: it must be true!" ).

                    If you wipe off the excess oil you shouldn't have any marks from where the piece sat. I crumple up aluminum foil to create a "rack" so the pieces only touch at a few points and don't sit in any puddles.

                    Free wood is the best kind. For puzzles like your dinosaur (rather than picture puzzles) I'd lean towards the .75" cuts, but there really aren't any rules here. Once your budget allows you can look for 1/4" BB online. If you have a craft store such as Michael's nearby they may also carry it.

                    I'm jealous of your Smoke Shop source. The ones near me either aren't willing to give out empty boxes or have already been cleared out before I get there. Have you tried making a cigar box guitar?



                    • #11
                      Great puzzle. Since your recipient is a 4 year old. I'd echo the suggestion of using a blade with a wider kerf so the it is easier to fit together. I'd also be cautious about the tail and rear leg pieces. They might be a choking hazzard. A toilet paper tube is a quick way to ensure it can't be choked on. A tube might not be able to encircle one of those pieces vertically but might horizontally.

                      The best part about developing for such a young audience is they aren't as critical.
                      Sawdust King

                      If there is one thing I can make perfect every time it is sawdust.


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