Step #1: PrevNext
- Using your miter saw* or hacksaw, cut your 4"x4" lumber every 3 1/2" to make 16 blocks that are 3 1/2"x3 1/2" each. Although one would think that 4"x4" lumber would be 4" by 4", it is actually 3 1/2", so your blocks should be perfect cubes.
- Sand the sides with sandpaper to smooth edges.
- *Learn how to use a miter saw here.
Step #2: PrevNext
- With a 1/2" sponge brush, prime blocks with one coat of gesso on all four sides. I recommend painting two opposing sides at a time and letting them dry before moving on so your hands don't get too messy. Let dry completely.
- Tightly arrange your puzzle blocks in a desired order, cut-side up - they might not be exactly even in height, so mix the higher and lower ones randomly.
- Give it one coat of white paint, wait to dry, then tape a striped pattern onto the blocks. This is the B-side to the puzzle.
Step #3: PrevNext
- Paint the blocks red over the tape. Brush paint outward from the tape, using small amounts to minimize paint running under the tape. Paint at least 3 coats, giving the paint time to dry between coats.
- Inevitably, no matter how careful you are, paint will run under the tape. Use your sponge brush to touch up the white paint.
Step #4: PrevNext
- Turn each block on its side and use your sponge brush to paint two opposite sides the color of your choice. I chose yellow because bright colors like yellow, red, and orange are thought to stimulate brain activity in children. I recommend three to four coats for a nice, even finish.
- When the first two sides are dry, paint the next two opposite sides another color. Here I chose gray to give a break to the eye from all the bright colors. Too many bright colors can be over-stimulating!
- Make a line across the top of the block and painting downward to keep the colors from dripping onto the other sides of the blocks.
Step #5: PrevNext
- Enlarge the elephant template to 154% on a copier, then cut out the elephant.
- Figure out the placement of the elephant on the puzzle. I made sure that there was a part of the elephant on each block to make it easier to assemble the puzzle.
- Lightly trace the elephant onto the puzzle with a pencil.