Christmas Puzzle

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Project by stefang posted 12-21-2017 12:29 PM 2122 views 3 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was looking for an easy project to make some Christmas gifts and I ran across Make CNC’s website that specializes in 3d puzzles made from thin plywood or solid wood if you are brave enough (I’m not). This motorcycle with sidecar especially caught my eye. With it’s somewhat retro look it kind of reminded me of the motorcycles used in WWI and WWII, even though it incorporates some more modern elements.

The pattern and materials
While essentially designed for CNC machines they are also now making scrollsaw versions of their patterns. They are only slightly different from the CNC plans. My downloaded pattern had a small error or two and they were very quick to fix them and send me a new one. They also let me choose a free pattern for the inconvenience. Very customer friendly! The pattern called for 3mm thick ply, but I had some 4mm ply so I had to print out the pattern at 133%. This was easy as it is a PDF pattern. It is important to get the scale right because the assembly slots have to match the thickness of the ply. The patterns come in inches and metric.

The work process
Here is the pattern (below) laid out cutting the approx. 120 pcs. I wanted to make 6 of these motorcycles so I decided to stack cut them to save time. This was done with two seperate 3 layer stacks using a no. 5 blade. I would have preferred to use a 6 layer stack, but I was worried that I would have to use a thicker blade which would make it more difficult to accurately cut the many slots with an increased blade turning radius. My cutting didn’t get more accurate as I progressed, but my speed increased exponentially! There is much truth in the saying that ‘practice makes perfect’. You can’t see the slots on the pattern (below) very well, believe me, there were plenty of them!

The long strip of ply had to be cut into manageable sections for scrolling. I used double sided tape to secure the layers together. It was a bit time consuming to separate the individual parts after cutting as some are a bit fragile, but the inconvenience was outweighed by the accuracy. I use the pulled-off tape to remove any residual sticky stuff and any that was missed was later sanded off while removing fuzzy cutting edges. After sanding I painted all the edges with a water based acrylic paint to match the ply color to hide the ply layers and give the appearance of solid wood. This worked better than I expected. This is what I wound up with after cutting (below).

Assembly tips
Its a good Idea to have a small file set available to tweak the slots. The tolerances are super close so it is best to cut on the inside of the slot lines and leave a tiny margin for adjustment in order to get a perfect fit. It isn’t a lot of work and it will insure the the parts go together easy and that they stay together after assembly

In my opinion some of the pieces are better glued up than remaining as separate parts as shown in the assembly instructions which are actually for the CNC version. This was the corrugated outside of the tires and the 3 pcs which make up the center of the fenders. You will see the difference between the scrollsaw pattern parts and the CNC version and I think you might agree me.

I had a lot of fun with this project and I hope you like it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

34 comments so far

View Ivan's profile


17004 posts in 4107 days

#1 posted 12-21-2017 12:32 PM

You showed us ’’easy’’ way to make a wooden bike, but it’s far from easy – lot of scrollsaw work. Turned out very good!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26778 posts in 4345 days

#2 posted 12-21-2017 12:33 PM

WOW..6 of them!! They look great , Mike! That is a fair piece of work. Glad to see you are back in the groove!!

Merry Christmas, Mike…................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4574 days

#3 posted 12-21-2017 12:43 PM

Thanks Ivan and Jim. It’s wonderful to be on LJ and be in the shop again.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8277 posts in 4593 days

#4 posted 12-21-2017 12:46 PM

Wow! Nice work Mike! Great looking bike and side car!
I know this kind of work takes lots of time and patients. Looks like your skilled workmanship has paid off with some very nice looking Christmas Puzzle’s!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View hunter71's profile


3558 posts in 4426 days

#5 posted 12-21-2017 12:55 PM

I agree with Tony….WOW

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View doubleDD's profile


10696 posts in 3283 days

#6 posted 12-21-2017 01:01 PM

Wonderful display of work with all those pieces. The puzzle cycle’s should be a hit. I was half way lost looking at the pattern cutting piece. Glad to see you making gifts for everyone and happy for you to see you in the shop.
Merry Christmas to you and your family Mike.

And it doesn’t look like a easy project to start with. LOL.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dennis Zongker's profile (online now)

Dennis Zongker

2858 posts in 4832 days

#7 posted 12-21-2017 01:32 PM

Super WOW, what a clever idea!

-- Dennis Zongker

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3907 days

#8 posted 12-21-2017 01:41 PM

Nice to see you back and playing in the shop Mike .
I certainly missed you and was worried about you !
This is welcome sight and a interesting project that you managed to make and will be a great present and much appreciated !

Merry Christmas


-- Kiefer

View a1Jim's profile


118252 posts in 4817 days

#9 posted 12-21-2017 01:48 PM

An ingenious approach to putting these very cool bikes together, great job Mike.What a fantastic idea for a gift.


View CFrye's profile


11359 posts in 3080 days

#10 posted 12-21-2017 02:02 PM

Wow. WOW! WOW! Love this puzzle, Mike! I’m thinking it took as much, if not more, time to paint the edges as it did to cut. Do the recipients receive the pieces assembled, or in a jumble?

-- God bless, Candy

View Schwieb's profile


1920 posts in 4701 days

#11 posted 12-21-2017 02:14 PM

Awesome job Mike, I’m not sure I could do that on a really good day.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3658 days

#12 posted 12-21-2017 02:14 PM

very nice project and puzzle.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5122 days

#13 posted 12-21-2017 02:39 PM

What a wonderful idea. Neat looking bikes too.

Good to hear from you again.

Take care,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View bushmaster's profile


4135 posts in 3522 days

#14 posted 12-21-2017 02:40 PM

Hats off to you to cut all those parts with precision so they all fit together properly. Nice looking cycle.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Redoak49's profile


5387 posts in 3228 days

#15 posted 12-21-2017 03:17 PM

Very well done…..a lot of hard work and an excellent job.

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