As a novice in woodworking, I am looking for some advice concerning a project I have in mind. I would like to create something similar to a chunky puzzle, something that looks like this, with much simpler shapes:

Chunky puzzle

The holes would be rectangles, and disposed more regularly on the board. In these holes, I'd be able to fit several pieces that would stick out of the board, for easier manipulation. Finally, I'd paint on the board and on the pieces.

The way I think of doing this so far is:

  • Board: take two rectangular, relatively thin pieces of wood of the same size, pierce one with the holes where I want them, and then to glue these two boards together to have the intended effect.

  • Small pieces: make them out of a wood that's thicker than the single board (and maybe of a similar thickness of the final board made of the two boards I glued), and slightly smaller than the holes I pierced in the board.

  • Painting: well, I guess I'll buy paint that can go on wood, so I can paint decorations, people or other animals on the wood.

My main question is: what type of wood would you recommend for such a project? (knowing that it has to be painted.)

Thanks in advance for your help! :)

  • Hi, welcome to this SE. But too many questions in one! As much as possible each Question should be about one distinct thing, with follow-on Questions as needed for other (separate) queries.
    – Graphus
    Sep 6 '17 at 18:57
  • Ok, thanks for the feedback. I'll try and edit this question then.
    – AnSy
    Sep 6 '17 at 21:24

Hardwoods are easy to work with and most durable for play - Oak and Maple are very commonly used for puzzles and block toys.

Pine (or hemlock, fir, etc) - standard big box lumber also would work but since it is softer it would not be as durable.

Painting any of these woods is straightforward, just follow the paint directions - many standard paints sold in the USA are non toxic, but a clear coat will help seal them and harden them. Spray painting them (with spray can or paint sprayer) might help achieve a smoother finish. And a polyurethane clear coat would make them more durable and is food safe.

Also some great info about painting toys here: http://www.toymakingplans.com/website/ToySafety.html - specifically how to get them nice and smooth with spray paint and polyurethane.


I vote for a good quality plywood - particularly baltic birch plywood. Using good plywood means that the panels will be flat and smooth without your needing to worry about it.

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