Photo puzzle

Hi there, my thanks to all who posted before and helped me get here (also to @jbmanning5 and @shop for your advice about the salt to de-soot the finished product ). Sooty fingers question (answered)

Here is the project that led me to my question about how to de-soot puzzle pieces.

This summer, I introduced my kids to kayaking. I got them each a kayak and they took to it like, uh, kids to kayaks? At one point my son pounced on the back of his sister’s boat, yelling “Pirate attack!” I was lucky enough to be close and prepared with the camera. This felt like a great candidate for my first laser puzzle.

I sent the picture to be printed at a local store (8x10), and used spray adhesive to attach it to some backer board (not quite sure what. I scavenged it from the recycling bin). Then with the puzzle generator linked in other articles, I sent it off to my GF.

I used settings recommended on this site, but I think I goofed on the caliper side, and didn’t focus the laser right. The result is that the pieces are a little on the loose side. Still, I’m delighted with the first attempt.

I also made a box to hold the puzzle. Loving that part too :smile:

I took the pictures of my son doing the puzzle so I can make another puzzle of him doing a puzzle of himself. Next up, snake eating its tail?

The hardest part of all this was not immediately sharing these pictures with my family, as I want to make them some presents with this technique and am going for the surprise.


Chuckle! Cute pirates…that does make a very good puzzle. :smile::+1:

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Great puzzle! Did you put masking over it after you stuck the picture to the backer board before cutting?


Nice work putting this together.


Love the story and the resulting puzzle. Fun all around.

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No, no masking, and I saw no evidence of smoke or charring (other than the expected char on the edges). It was super easy. I’ll do a better job documenting the next one I do (this weekend?)

Did you put anything on the photo to seal it before cutting?


No. Right or wrong, I just sent the picture out for printing, spray-adhesive-mounted it to the chipboard, and cut it out. Next step will be the salt processing to remove the char from the edges, but it’s great as-is already.

fwiw, long term it’s probably a good thing to do even a simple spray sealant. puzzle pieces get knocked around a bit.


good to know, thanks. I’ll make sure to do that for the next one.

Any recommendation for a specific sealant? And do you do it before cutting (which seems easiest) or after (which seems like it would ensure edges are sealed)?


the first couple of puzzles i made i used a brush on varnish (2 coats with a light sand between). works well, but takes time and more effort.

i made one with modge podge. meh. it worked fine, but i don’t like the finish.

just tried a krylon clear UV resistant spray last night and cut today. was disappointed with a little bit of browning on the finish at the edges of the pieces.

need to ask @jbmanning5 what he’s using. i think he’s using a spray varnish. wouldn’t mind finding out which one.


I use either Windsor & Newton or Golden spray varnish, matte finishes.


Picture varnish or all purpose (looking at the winsor)?

Hmm, maybe cut, then spread the pieces out and then spray finish?

Love it! What a great gift!

if you do it afterward, you have a couple of issues. 1: harder to get consistent finish and 2: if some gets on the sides, it could affect how well the pieces fit together.

Thanks for the great post! I’m inspired to try some smaller puzzles for students at my school.

Does anyone have advice on how to tell if my glossy photo paper and spray adhesive is laser safe?

(And sorrry for commenting so late… I’m new :slightly_smiling_face:)

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I do some every year (well, the last 2) for a pre-K teacher. The students (and the parents) love them! So, good idea!

I haven’t found any paper so far that’s not laser-safe. But, I haven’t actively sought it out either. Any of the photo papers should be fine - the only thing I might be leery of without doing more research are the silver gelatin / “true black and white” photo papers. That’s not to say those aren’t safe either, just that I have no clue.

Once the spray adhesive dries, it should pose no problems being cut. Spraying it is a different story and I would consider PPE (personal protective equipment) if doing it often. Just for a batch of puzzles, it’s your call, but a very well ventilated area shouldn’t kill you.

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Thank you! I’ll do some searches for PPE and look into getting something. Can’t wait to try some puzzles!