Cutting a Whimsical Heart Puzzle


Fun design makes a great Valentine’s Day gift

This simple project is easy to cut and makes a thoughtful gift. The idea originated when Rosalie suggested we make wooden hearts as Valentine’s Day gifts for our couples’ Bible study group.

While hearts are an iconic symbol of the holiday, this puzzle is perfect for expressing your feelings any time of year.

Hearts are special to Rosalie and me because I have had open-heart surgery and have been a heart patient for more than twelve years.

As I began cutting out hearts, I decided to turn them into puzzles. I used poplar, but clear pine is also a good choice. Both woods are relatively inexpensive, widely available, and cut and finish well. When cutting puzzles, it is very important that your saw blade be square to the table. I was using a square to align my table and blade and had trouble fitting the puzzle pieces. I later found out the square I was using was inaccurate. Use a small drafting square to ensure the table is positioned correctly.

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To make the simple heart, attach the pattern to the blank and cut along the pattern lines with a #3 reverse-tooth blade. Sand the puzzle lightly to remove any fuzz left by the saw blade. Disassemble the puzzle and apply a coat of white primer paint. Sand the primer lightly and apply your chosen finish color. The puzzle pieces can also be dyed or stained.

Use the same technique to cut out the more complicated “Time for Love” puzzle. Then, drill appropriately sized holes for the clock inserts and photo inserts. Finally, paint or finish the puzzle as desired.

issues-ssw42-3-Heart-PuzzlesUse the process to cut the more complicated puzzles locked together with the heart-arrow. After cutting the puzzle, transfer the pattern to the single heart and double heart for the arrow. Mark the center of the point of the heart onto the sides of the blanks and drill 5/16″ (8mm)-diameter holes for the dowel. Cut the groove for the 5/16″ (8mm)-diameter dowel through the puzzle with a plunge cutting ball cutter router bit (available from Eagle America, Glue the dowel into either the single heart or the double heart, feed the dowel through the puzzle, and friction fit the other end of the dowel into the other end. To disassemble this puzzle, the recipient must figure out which end of the arrow comes out, and then slide the dowel out of the puzzle to be able to take the pieces apart.

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Heart Puzzle Pattern
Heart Puzzle Pattern 2

Heart Puzzle Pattern 3