Solving puzzles is an enjoyable and engaging way to spend time either alone or with your loved ones. What is even better is making the puzzles yourself from scratch using a Puzzle Template and pictures that you took, drew, or downloaded because it opens up endless opportunities for gameplay. Besides making for a great challenge, these homemade puzzles can be personalized into unique gifts for friends and family.
Are you considering creating your own puzzles? All you need is a template, a picture, materials, tools, and the instructions in this detailed guide.
What Is a Puzzle?
A puzzle is an image or picture broken down into oddly shaped pieces that must be assembled correctly to reveal the complete image. Every puzzle piece has part of the picture printed on it and falls in a specific slot where it blends with other pieces to form the image usually displayed on the box. Generally, puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and dimensions and can be as simple or complicated as you wish them to be.
What Is a Puzzle Template?
A puzzle template is a downloadable stencil with easy-to-remove pieces from which you can create a complete puzzle. It can be flat and simple, shaped and complex, or blank, and it is up to you to customize it into a workable puzzle.
Benefits of Working with Puzzles
Puzzles often strike people as simple pass-time activities for children but actually provide many benefits for people of all ages. Some advantages you should know about include:
1. Improved Thought Processes
Solving a puzzle requires you to recognize and identify every puzzle piece in relation to the complete image. This process often engages parts of your brain that you don’t use in typical day-to-day situations, leading to an improvement in your logic and thought processes.
2. Memory Boost
To successfully complete a puzzle, you must try to remember what the image looked like and how the pieces fit into each other. This requires rapid brain cells connections which improve your short-term memory and mental speed.
3. Problem Solving Skills
One of the most hailed benefits of completing a puzzle is that it enhances your ingenuity and resourcefulness. You continuously work through your errors to find possible connections between the pieces, which in turn improves your ability and patience to solve problems. This is a vital skill for growing children.
Yes, puzzled engage your thought processes and improve your short-term memory. But they also help you relax and unwind after a stressful day. In fact, many adults that complete puzzles say they do it as a way to relax and meditate upon their day.
Materials You Need to Make Puzzle Pieces
Of course, you will need the image that you will use to create your puzzle and a suitable backing. If you choose a cardboard backing, a hobby knife or sharp pair of scissors will come in handy. A wood backing will require more expertise and specialized tools like a coping, electric, or scroll saw. Other materials you will need – regardless of the type of backing – are:
- A ruler
- Liquid craft glue or spray glue
- Spray lacquer
Note: A coping saw is a specialized tool that makes intricate shapes like circles, squares, and grooves on wood.
How to Make a Puzzle (Step-By-Step)
With suitable materials and tools, making a Puzzle Template should not be a difficult task. Remember, always supervise young puzzle makers and ask for help yourself if you are not experienced or skilled in working with cutting tools. Here are the steps to guide you through the puzzle-making process:
Step 1: Select a Picture
Draw or print out an image for your puzzle, depending on your preferences. Make sure it is high resolution, on good quality paper, and printed to a suitable size.
Step 2: Choose a Backing
Next, find the appropriate backing for your puzzle. Your choice will depend on material availability (plywood or cardboard) and your skills with the corresponding cutting tools (saw or pair of scissors). Plywood is stronger and more durable, but cardboard is easier to cut into shapes.
Tip: The ideal thickness for cardboard or plywood to be used as puzzle backing is 0.3 centimeters or one-eighth of an inch.
Step 3: Place the Picture onto the Backing
With the backing on a protective sheet and the good side facing down, spray or smear the surface with glue and spread the glue to create an even coat. Carefully place your picture onto the glued backing.
Step 4: Lacquer the Picture
Find a well-aerated area – preferably outside – and spray an even lacquer coat over the picture and allow it to dry. The drying time is usually indicated on the lacquer can. If the image doesn’t cover the entire backing, trim the edges of the backing.
Step 5: Make a Grid
Once your puzzle is dry and trimmed, place it on a table with the image facing down and use a rule and pencil to draw a square grid pattern on the back. The squares can be one inch or three-quarters of an inch, depending on the number of pieces you would like your puzzle to have. Then, cut ball and socket shapes into the grid edges where they will fit into each other.
Step 6: Curve Out the Pieces
Lastly, use your cutting tool to cut out the grids from the template. Use your eraser to blot out any visible pencil marks. There goes your puzzle!
Puzzle-Making Tips and Warnings
There is no limit to what you can use as an image for your puzzle, so try to be as creative as possible. If you are experienced in woodwork, try carving puzzles in different shapes such as circles and animal or plant shapes. Additionally, consider using personal photos to create gifts for your loved ones.
That said, you should be very careful when using cutting tools like saws and never work without supervision, especially if you are young or inexperienced. Consider asking for help from more experienced puzzle makers.
Traditionally, puzzle makers printed and cut out images on wood backings to create a solvable puzzle. While this method is still viable today, you can just as easily create a Puzzle Template from cardboard with a pair of scissors, glue, and lacquer. You are also not restricted to pictures of animals and plants and can use images of repetitive patterns, vehicles, famous presidents, and personal pictures. Simply put, the only limit to what you can do with homemade puzzles is your imagination.