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  • elementary questions

    So I am making a puzzel for a co worker, not real intricagte, I am using 1/2 baltic birch, I almost always use fdur blades. My questions are what size blade sholuld I use, considering finish, and what size entry hole should I drill?
    Next question is how to finish? When painting puzzles, different colors for some pieces, how to paint or what kind of paint? In the past often when finishing, especially using water based craft paints I get swelling of the wood and the pieces will not go together. Also maybe using a finish of spray polyurthane. I was also considering using colored penciles. Thanks for any advice. dan

  • #2
    Dan, your questions are a little tough to answer without knowing a little more about this puzzle you're cutting. That said, here are my thoughts:
    • First of all, it would be helpful to know the overall size of this puzzle and how many pieces you're thinking of cutting it into. 1/2" BB is pretty thick for a puzzle unless there is a special reason. Most puzzle cutters use 1/4" ply.
    • Blade size is also contingent on what the puzzle is. Typically I cut a puzzle with a "puzzle blade" that is somewhere around a 2/0 or 3/0 equivalent. This is so that the kerf is minimized and the puzzle fits tighter together. My puzzles are tight enough so that you can pick it up by one corner and it stays together. Your 1/2" ply would be tough to cut with those blades.
    • Since you asked about an entry hole I'm assuming this puzzle is a tray puzzle. When I cut those I use the smallest drill bit that the blade will fit through and typically drill the hole in a corner to minimize noticing it. Once you decide on a blade size there are charts available to tell you the minimum drill size to use for that blade.
    • If you're painting the pieces different colors I would suggest spraying a coat of shellac on before cutting the puzzle pieces to seal the wood. When you paint the pieces I would only paint the top surface. Puzzles I've painted (number and alphabet puzzles for kids) I used small bottles of acrylics that come in a set of colors. If you want/need to paint the sides of the pieces then make sure you use a blade with a large enough kerf to allow for the paint. Once painted I don't think you would need to spray any finish over the top of the paint.
    Hope this helps. If this has brought up more specific questions ask away and I'm sure someone here can help.
    . . . because each piece will be someone's heirloom someday.
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    • #3
      Giraffe Familyl.jpg

      This is the puzzle, for some reason I usualy make my puzzels with thicker stock, sometimes 3/4 oak or pine or poplar. I have made puzzels in the past I just wanted to get some fresh ideas on blades and finish. I like the idea of applying shellac first that is if the paint sitll covers and sticks good. I was thinking of making this a tray puzzle, the piece of bb birch I am using is 1 foot square, but I may make the edges a little scalloppped following the contour of the subject. I made the puzzel about as big as I could to fit a 8,5 x 11 piece of paper.


      • #4
        Cute Pattern.
        I have good success treating the wood with spry shellac before cutting. There will not be a problem painting the pieces with craft paint over the shellac. As previously said, just be sure to keep the paint off of the cut edges. If you want to seal the craft paint, a light spray coat of shellac will do it. I would do this with the puzzle pieces separated.

        Regarding the size blade, I would use perhaps a 1/0 blade but it will be slow going on something that thick. I usually do not use a puzzle blade on pieces for children because it seems to be a little tight for little fingers to assemble.


        • #5
          You asked about paint, if this is for a child, make sure the finish is child save.

          Another thing you may want to to consider is the size of the pieces and age of the recipient. Some of those pieces look small enough to be a choke hazard.

          Here is a link to a past discussion on the topic:


          • #6
            This is the way I would do this. If using 3/4 stock my wood choice would be poplar and I would use a #1 or #3 blade. After cutting I would apply shellac to all surfaces before painting. I agree with Mark that some pieces appear to be a choking hazard.
            Creator of fine designer sawdust.


            • #7
              I cut over 100 3/4" hardwood puzzles evey year.. I use #5 Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse or Pegas Modified Geometry blades. They are easier for young children and older adults. If you going to paint.. that will effect the parts as well.. I only tried that a few times. the pieces stuck together for me.. I have hear that wood dyes work.. but they might raise the grain.. I just use a couple of coats of Watco natural finish Danish oil.. That one would look nice in colors..
              Last edited by keystonecop; 05-11-2021, 05:26 PM.
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