Scroll sawn jigsaw puzzle

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Project by Elizabeth posted 07-06-2011 06:07 AM 5467 views 11 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a scroll saw years ago but due to a sudden upswing in my student engineering work never got to use it. So I got another one last year. Aside from the occasional trimming of a piece, never really used it either.

Until this week. This is my first proper scroll saw project – a nine piece cat-stack jigsaw puzzle. I made it out of some scrap plywood since it was really a test project, but it turned out well. And after I switched from the “stock” blade that was still in my saw to a proper reverse tooth blade the cuts went much more smoothly.

I put two coats of cherry stain on the pieces and may add another one after I sand down the edges of the pieces a bit, as the grain raised a lot during the staining and some of the pieces are a bit touchy now. Any suggestions for a top coat over the stain that is kid-friendly?

My 2.5 year old nephew is visiting this week and enjoyed playing with these pieces in the post-cutting, pre-staining stage.

The pattern is from a magazine; I’m sure I can pin it down if anyone wants to know where it came from.

20 comments so far

View Wes Giesbrecht's profile

Wes Giesbrecht

155 posts in 3169 days

#1 posted 07-06-2011 11:07 AM

This is great. Did you design it yourself?

-- Wes Giesbrecht

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 3344 days

#2 posted 07-06-2011 01:18 PM

Your puzzle looks well cut! I’ve been trying some puzzles myself and am interested in where you got this pattern. For kid friendly projects, I use a water-based “Polycrylic” made by minwax. Just make sure the stain is thoroughly dry.

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3194 days

#3 posted 07-06-2011 01:47 PM

I really like this puzzle

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View souichiro's profile


369 posts in 3703 days

#4 posted 07-06-2011 05:11 PM

Yeah, polycrylic works well, dries fast, and has a nice sheen. I think that most top coats that are non-lead (read “really old”) will work just fine….. as long as they are fully cured. This means past dry. :) Probably safest at about two weeks room temperature. If you use natural wood, you can also do butcherblock oil. And just keep coats on it. What’s nice about this is that it will keep the woods natural smell. It can be a cool touch if you are using a few different kinds of wood.

Anyway, VERY nice job on this! I really like the puzzle, do you happen to know which magazine you got the pattern from? I’d love to add this to my list of things to do. :)

-- Dale, Oregon

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3224 days

#5 posted 07-06-2011 06:07 PM

That is really a nice puzzle. I love the design.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3194 days

#6 posted 07-06-2011 06:47 PM

I didn’t know you could cut plywood on a scrollsaw…I would think it would destroy the blade.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 3276 days

#7 posted 07-06-2011 10:43 PM

If you could do it over with solid wood (which I would probably do anyway, if you think it may become a generational toy—and isn’t that the point of wooden toys?) I would recommend salad bowl finish. It’s blend of beeswax and mineral oil. Rub it in with your bare hands. It smells wonderful and is totally safe for the kids, even if they put pieces in their mouths. If handled a lot, you may need to recoat once in a while, or better yet—let the kids do it.

The puzzle looks great!

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View Toninho's profile


190 posts in 3185 days

#8 posted 07-06-2011 11:35 PM

Really a Great puzzle! I love cats! He loved to be able to cut on my scroll saw! Congratulations!

-- António Guerreiro

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3501 days

#9 posted 07-06-2011 11:36 PM

Thanks for the finish suggestions! Yes, I’m definitely going to do it over in solid wood – and I plan on stacking two pieces of different-species wood so I can interchange the parts and have two different colours in the final puzzle.

The patter is from a book called The Best of ScrollSaw Woodworking and Crafts Magazine: Wooden Puzzles (ISBN 978-1-56523-429-1) and is on pages 38-39 in a section titled “Ingenious Animal Family Puzzles” – this section also has penguins, mice, horses and elephants in the same kind of style. The same book has a “Climbing Cats” puzzle which is similar to this one but with more complicated cuts. I would guess that these patterns previously appeared in issues of the magazine but I don’t know which ones.

@Spunwood, I didn’t have any problems at all cutting the plywood. I used a new number 7 reverse tooth blade and didn’t encounter any burning or difficulty moving forward, but I’m not experienced enough to know if it was adversely affecting the blade.

View Hawaiilad's profile


3369 posts in 3378 days

#10 posted 07-07-2011 02:00 AM

Very nice cutting. I have made that puzzle several times and they sell well. And my Grandkids liked it as well. I made a few of them from Birch plywood and other from hardwoods….sealed with a poly spray..cured of course. I have been cutting plywoods on my scroll saw for about 30 odd years and have not had any problems at all…as you say, it depends on the blade you use. I like your idea of stack and interchanging different wood colors…

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View Woodenwizard's profile


1355 posts in 3401 days

#11 posted 07-08-2011 04:18 AM

How fun!

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3448 days

#12 posted 07-08-2011 09:33 PM

This is a cool puzzle. My wife is a preschool teacher and I’ve going to have to give this one a try. Nice job with it.

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 3271 days

#13 posted 07-08-2011 09:56 PM

Great Job Elizabeth! I really like it!
Sald bowl finish as Pete says should be all you’d need for a project like this. I’ve heard of walnut oil being very strong and kid friendly, just a thought. Great work keep it up!

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View randyb's profile


119 posts in 3685 days

#14 posted 07-11-2011 03:21 PM

That’s really cool!

-- I was going for that distressed look

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9238 posts in 3278 days

#15 posted 07-15-2011 11:13 PM

Really a great project! I love kitties and this one is darling! I hope you continue to do more scroll sawing, as it is lots of fun and is even quite relaxing!

Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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