If you want to really test your skills as a woodworker, then you should make a wooden jigsaw puzzle.
There are many opportunities to be creative with this project. The shape of the pieces - and the resulting difficulty level of cutting them out - is up to you. You can make up your own design, or take advantage of some of the templates available on the market. The subject matter of your puzzle can be selected either before or after you have selected the size and style you are going to use for your pieces.
Sometimes hand-painted pieces in the shape of the subject (such as a bright red apple cut into the shape of an apple) are used for simpler children's puzzles. These can be especially rewarding to make if you have children or grand children. You can even customize the pieces so they resemble objects the children are already familiar with. Just remember, non-toxic paints and glue should be used when constructing any puzzle - but this is especially important if you're making a wooden jigsaw puzzle for children.
Don't forget the guidelines for child safety. Different piece sizes are recommended for different ages - children who still put items into their mouths should never have pieces which are small enough to fit comfortably in the mouth. These rules should be strictly adhered to.
There is some discussion as to which should come first: do you glue the picture to the wood before or after you cut it out? If you are especially skilled with your jigsaw and have a blade that cuts very fine lines,then glue it first. Others prefer to glue the picture to the wood after the pieces have been cut out and then cut the picture with a razor knife. This is extra work, but could give you a finer edge on the pieces. Most crafters do prefer to glue the picture to the wood before cutting out the pieces.
Inexpensive glue works fine for gluing the picture to the wood, but be careful to remove any air bubbles. Spray-on glues also work quite well for attaching the picture or print.
The size of the pieces determines the difficulty for both the maker of the puzzle and the persons putting it together. Avoid designing pieces with shape that are too unusual. They could be difficult to fit and discouraging to the person working the puzzle.
There are many types and sizes of jigsaw blades on the market. It is best to try several different types and experiment on different puzzle shapes.
Most puzzles are made of one-quarter inch plywood but that is entirely up to the builder. You would want to use a material that feels good to the user and has a pleasant aroma. A high-quality varnish or polyurethane on the back of the puzzle pieces will make them pleasant to the touch. Making a wooden jigsaw puzzle is rewarding, and if you are making this as a gift you will definitely make someone happy.