My first project, Modified Sea Creature Puzzle

  • Advertise with us
Project by jfk4032 posted 08-19-2011 09:08 PM 3775 views 9 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I loved the sea creature puzzle that was in the recent Scollsawer magazine. I set out to learn more about different wood species being a newbie so I wanted to use a different wood for each piece. I thought this would help me get a much better handle on color and grain options as I want to get into intarsia. There were quite a few vague looking animals in the original design so I decided to make 9 new creatures that had more personal meaning and/or connections to me and my family. I also modified some existing ones to either fit them better into my new pieces or enhance them (give the shark some teeth, etc…) I used BB for the base hexagon piece with black walnut veener on top. I salvaged some white oak from some skids at work that I used for a rope border I rabbited the rope pieces so that they cover and go around the veneered base piece.

The woods I used for the pieces are (top to bottom):

Whale: Spalted hardwood (Not sure what species that is)
Sand Dollar: Holly
Ray: African Blackwood
Seal: Mahagony
Salmon: Sycamore
Shark: Pine with natural grey stains
Starfish: Black Locust
Jellyfish: Spalted Oak
Squid: Holly with natural blue/grey stains
Clam: Butternut
Snake/Snail: Purpleheart
Crab: Cherry with pinkish hue
Flounder: Lacewood
Octopus: Yellowheart
Hermit Crab: Poplar with green and black streaks

Critters that I designed in ALL CAPS

I applied finishing to the critters with an initial coat of pre-cat water based satin urethane to try to keep the colors of the natural wood as close as possible through the finishing process. I then wiped on a satin gel topcoat several times using a corrugated box piece and toothpicks as a drying rack.

I cut the rope sections into the individual knots of rope and shaped those 30 pieces and then re-glued those shaped and rabbited pieces back together again to form the rope frame. I laid down some black walnut veneer onto the plywood base and finished that with several coats of wipe on poly gel. I cut and fitted the veneered plywood base into the rope frame and then did the same with a piece of plexiglass. I mounted a puzzle legend onto the underneath side of the hexagon baseboard sandwiched between the plexiglass and the plywood base. Otherwise, this would be very difficult for a person who hasn’t seen the puzzle before to put it back together. I reflected the image so that when looking at it from the underneath perspective the pieces would be in the correct orientation to the topside of the puzzle. I also labeled each critter and put the type of wood used on it.

I also drilled and countersunk 6 holes to attach the plexiglass with some brass screws that I ground down so as not stick out above the top surface of the veneer.

I finished this project up by applying some beige colored velvet onto the underneath side of the rope border which will be in contact with a glass table and I wanted to prevent some scratches…especially with everyone playing with the pieces over time.

Looking forward to working on my next project.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

9 comments so far

View MShort's profile


1792 posts in 3590 days

#1 posted 08-19-2011 09:17 PM

Very neat puzzle idea.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View marter1229's profile


437 posts in 3682 days

#2 posted 08-20-2011 12:29 AM

great job!
Best version I have seen yet.

-- It's all fun, Terry******N. Idaho

View terrilynne's profile


836 posts in 3065 days

#3 posted 08-20-2011 12:38 AM

Very well done. Good design and well thought out. I like the different woods too.

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View moonls's profile


412 posts in 3158 days

#4 posted 08-20-2011 01:17 AM

Very nice job with the scrolled figures and many varieties of wood! What magazine did you get the idea from?

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 08-20-2011 03:15 AM

Pretty cool.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3008 days

#6 posted 08-20-2011 03:30 AM

Thanks for the list of woods too!

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View jfk4032's profile


365 posts in 2699 days

#7 posted 08-20-2011 03:56 AM

The base pattern was in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts, by Fox Chapel Publishing, the Spring or Summer issue of this year. I did modify quite a bit of it, but the idea and a little more than half the critters are similar to the published pattern. I created 9 of the creatures and the rope border myself.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3658 days

#8 posted 08-20-2011 03:31 PM

I scrolled that pattern also, but I took the easy way out, and did it all from 1/2” walnut. Came out nice, but your version is so much nicer, and I like that you added some creatures. Using different woods must have added a lot of time and effort to the piece, but the results are stunning. And the rope frame is a great addition.
I was thinking of posting mine, but now I won’t…after seeing yours :-)

Great job.

-- Steve--

View SawTooth1953's profile


334 posts in 3478 days

#9 posted 08-24-2011 03:08 PM

Very nicely done… I like that you went above and beyond the project presented in the magazine.

-- Spence in Skokie, IL

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics