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How To Make a Puzzle Board

How To Make a Puzzle Board

During the trying times of Covid-19, if you can’t go to Hawaii, let Hawaii come to you via the magic of puzzles! There are so many pretty Hawaii scenes to choose from, that you might want to go professional and get a puzzle board. While you can buy one online, the following DIY project might save you money and help have quality family time.

Most puzzle boards give you a large flat surface to work on that you can move around as needed. My DIY puzzle board project will also allow you to conveniently sort colors, which speeds up puzzle construction a lot. Four drawers can be neatly stored under the puzzle at the end of the day.

DIY - Wooden puzzle board with 4 drawers to keep the pieces sorted by color.

To make this puzzle board, you will need:

  • 3 pieces of plywood
  • A picture frame of the same size as each of three pieces of plywood. You can recycle a canvas frame or a 4-picture frame for this. Or you can also use 5 planks of wood instead – see Step 2 for details.
  • 4 drawer knobs and 4 screws
  • A lot of trim – these will become drawer sides (essential) and table edges (optional)
  • wood glue and finishing nail

Step 1 – measure and cut 3 plywood sheets

Cut a plywood sheet into 3 identical pieces, the size of which depends on the puzzles you want to do. For example:

500 pieces: 9 x 12 inch
750 pieces: 18 x 24 inch
1,000 pieces: 20 x 30 inch
1,500 pieces: 23 x 33 inch

These are not hard rules, and making a puzzle board a few inches bigger than the puzzle you have in mind wouldn’t hurt. As for me, I used plywood sheets the exact size of the picture frame I had at hand: 28 x 35 inch and it worked well for a 1000 piece puzzle.

The first 2 plywood pieces will become the top and bottom of the table and the third piece, with modifications in Step 5, will become the drawers bottoms.

Step Two – prepare the picture frame

Cut your 4-picture frame. You will need to make 8 cuts (see illustration), and the loose pieces will become your drawer fronts in a minute, so don’t loose them! Alternatively, measure and cut five wooden planks, to come up with the same 4-picture frame without the 4 marked pieces.

How to make a puzzle board - step 2: cut the picture frame.

Step Three – make the center layer of the puzzle board

Glue and nail the picture frame to the first sheet of plywood. Measure how deep your drawers can be before they hit the central stick (I went for 17 inches). 

How to make a puzzle board - step 3:  glue and nail the picture frame to the first sheet of plywood.

Step 4 – finish the puzzle board

Nail and glue the second sheet of plywood.

Step 4: nail and glue the second sheet of plywood.

Step 5 – cut the drawer bottoms

Cut the third plywood sheet into 4 pieces. The width of each pieces is the same size as the drawer fronts. The length has been determined in Step 3. Nail and glue the drawer front on each plywood piece.

Step 5: cut out the drawer bottoms.

Step 6 – finish the drawers

Screw drawer handles. Then glue trim to drawers sides (essential) and table edges (optional, especially if you like to slide chunks of puzzle to and fro). This step takes a few hours to dry, so be careful!

Step 6: finish the drawers.

Voilà, the puzzle board is ready! Enjoy and see you in Hawaii when the travel is open!

Hawaiian puzzle on a puzzle board.

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