How to Make a Wooden Cross Puzzle

February 14, 2013 | by Ethan (email) |

Pro-Follow Update: The good news is that I hope to back on a Pro-Follow with Joe Bianco later this week. Things have been a little slow so I’m eager to get back to it. I won’t give away any of the details except to say this it’s another basement with a few complications.

In the meantime, I have a quick, easy puzzle to show you. I enjoy the brain-teaser-esque wooden puzzles, and I came across one while perusing LumberJocks. This puzzle is easy to make, and it’s easy to solve if you know the trick.


Tools & Materials

For this project I used:

  • Small piece of 1 x 2″ maple
  • Fluted dowel pins
  • Wood glue

And the tools:

  • Table saw
  • Combination square
  • Sandpaper


Step 1: Cut Individual Pieces

I started by cutting the maple into two 4″ long pieces and then ripping those in half.


I took two pieces and cut them in half again for a total of two long pieces and four short pieces.

Step 2: Find Center

Very carefully I measured and found center on the ends of all the short pieces. I also measured for the center along the length of the longer pieces.


Step 3: Drill Holes

I’m drilling holes for 1/4″ dowel pins, and for the puzzle to work, the pins need to slide freely. Using my measurements, I drilled 3/8″ holes.


On the short pieces, the holes need to be deep enough to fully house the pins.


On the longer pieces, I drilled the hole all the way through. By placing a piece of scrap underneath, I was able to drill the hole and prevent any tear out. After drilling, I held the pieces together to make sure the holes lined up, and the pins could slide back and forth.


Step 4: Glue Together

I glued two identical pairs as shown below. The space between the short pieces is just wide enough to fit the other puzzle piece. Also, I made sure the dowel pins were in place because they’re too long to insert afterward.


Step 5: Rip Even

I used my table saw to trim the ends flush.


Step 6: Sand Smooth

I sanded every side until all the joints were completely smooth and the two pieces fit together easily.



When you overlap the two pieces together and give it a shake, the pins slide out and lock the puzzle together. If you know the secret, it’s easy to retract all the pins simultaneously to unlock it.

I may stain the puzzle or just apply some poly. I haven’t decided yet. Regardless, the puzzle works really well, and it stumped Jocie!





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