Autumn Colors Puzzle

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Autumn Colors Puzzle

Figural keys and assorted hardwoods bring this tree to life

By Judy and Dave Peterson

Cut by Leldon Maxcy

At first glance, this puzzle is just a tree, but if you look carefully, you’ll find forest friends hiding among the branches. The woodland creatures are more than just cute additions. I needed puzzle keys in those locations anyway, so instead of using standard designs, I added interest by sketching three animals normally found in trees. I reworked a tree puzzle pattern I designed based off a science fiction book called Two Tales of Korval to create this Tree with Friends puzzle.

The original tree puzzle based off a science fiction tale. 


Making the Puzzle

To cut the puzzle from a single piece of wood, attach the pattern to the blank and cut the pieces using a #5 or #7 skip-tooth or reverse-tooth blade. To cut the puzzle from assorted varieties of hardwood as shown, make multiple copies of the pattern and attach them to the blanks as desired. Then, cut carefully on the lines. If a few pieces don’t fit together, put them together as much as possible, holding or taping them in place, and then cut the line between them again. Retain the waste wood to use as supports during sanding.

To use a drum sander for flat sanding, I attach the waste wood to the puzzle with rubber bands to add support; otherwise, the drum sander can crunch the trunk pieces. (Learn about the drum sander in our exclusive tool feature.) You can also hand-sand the pieces until they are smooth. Soften the edges of the pieces with a flap sander if desired. 

I like to stain the tree’s trunk and branches a darker color and then finish all of the pieces with clear Danish oil.



• Wood, 1″ (2.5cm)-thick: 7 1/2″ x 10″                             (19.1cm x 25.4cm) 

• Spray adhesive, repositionable

• Packing tape: clear 

• Sandpaper: 220-grit

• Danish oil: clear

• Stain (optional)


• Blades: #5 or #7 skip-tooth or reverse-tooth

• Drill or drill press and assorted bits

• Drum sander (optional)

• Flap sander (optional)


About the Author

A former teacher and librarian, Judy Peterson found her niche in life as a woodworker. A winner of many design awards, she sells her puzzles at art shows around the country. Her husband, Dave, runs the record-keeping side of the business. Together they have written several books, which are available at


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