Carve This Pretty Wooden Puzzle with an Inventables X-Carve


Hi friends!  I am so so excited to share this next project.  Can I tell you why?!  Because it literally blows my mind that I made this gorgeous wooden puzzle!  If you want to know how to carve a wooden puzzle, then I’ve got you covered.  And guess what?  It’s so, SO much easier than it seems.

(And psst: this project was sponsored by Inventables.  I’m such SUCH a fangirl of this company and can’t wait to share how amazing their X-Carve machine is with you.  Hope you love it as much as I do!)


How to Carve a Children’s Wooden Puzzle

I’ve always, always wanted to get into wood carving. But y’ all know that I went back to work a few months ago and life’s gotten BUSY. So when I saw some fellow DIY bloggers playing with this machine called an X-Carve, I was like, “wasssdat?”

An X-Carve machine is a computerized router that can cut or carve wood. Here are a few shots of the assembled machine in my workshop:

(Isn’t she a beaut?!)

I assembled the machine on two old IKEA cabinets. And I mounted the cart on wheels so that I can roll the machine in and out of the workshop for more room when I need it. (A brilliant move, in my ever so humble opinion. Gotta love casters.)

So how did I start designing this wooden puzzle?

Designing the Wooden Puzzle

I knew I wanted to create a really, really pretty Disney inspired puzzle.  A puzzle so beautiful, you almost didn’t want to play with it!  I decided to draw a deer and give her a flower crown, with each flower turning into a puzzle piece.

Honestly, sketching out the design was fun and easy, since I could sketch in my sketchpad sitting on the couch while the kids played at night.  #momwin .

I drew and erased and drew again until it looked how I wanted.  Then, I used a marker to ink over the lines and erased the pencil.

Here are the original sketches in pencil and ink:

Once I had my design, I took a pic on my phone and uploaded it into Illustrator and turned it into an .svg file.

Here’s the thing, I REALLY don’t know how to use Illustrator.  I’ve tried to learn (a million times) and it makes me SUPER anxious.

So I was really really happy that Inventables has its own design software called Easel that’s WAAAAY easier to use.  Here’s what the Easel interface looks like:

You’ll see that there’s the design of the deer on the left.  And on the right, you see a preview of the carving.  Cool, right?

On the design, there’s dark grey lines and light grey lines.  That’s because there are two carving depths.  The dark goes all the way through the wood.

Carving the Wooden Puzzle with Your Machine

Once the design is all set in Easel, you’re ready to carve.  The instructions on Easel walk you through step by step what you need to do, from clamping down your wood to making sure the bit is loaded.

For this project, I used pine.  I bought a 1 by 10 board from Home Depot in my neighborhood, then cut it down to a 12-inch section.

Here’s my wood all clamped down on the X-Carve:

It’s so mesmerizing watching the X-Carve do its thing.  I watched it for a long time, just carving along, knowing exactly where to go to carve the image.  Super fun to watch!  Plus, watching a machine I built carve a design I drew?  It seriously made my heart happy.

If you’re an Easel user like me, you can grab the published file right here:

Finishing My Pretty Little Puzzle

Finishing up this wooden puzzle was easy.  I spent about 30 minutes sanding down all the edges with my orbital sander.

I knew my daughter would play with the puzzle and didn’t want any rough or pokey parts to get her.

Then I painted some pieces using milk paint.  Why milk paint?  I wanted a paint that would be non-toxic and child-friendly.  Because like literally everything else in our home, she’s going to chew it.

Then I used some food-safe finishing oil to give the wood a sheen.  This particular oil is meant for cutting boards, so I knew it would be safe if she chewed a puzzle piece.

And that’s it!  YOU GUYS, I am so in love with this little wooden puzzle.  Seriously.  It was so fun to design and even more fun to watch the X-Carve do its magic. 

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Here are some final shots of the little deer: