When I bought my Cricut Maker, one of the reasons I chose this specific machine was so that I could make a personalized jigsaw puzzle.
My grandson’s 2nd birthday is coming up, and I wanted to create a jigsaw puzzle out of his birthday party invitation.
Here is the picture I am using on my puzzle:
The great news is…. wait for it… you can choose ANY photo you want to personalize your puzzle!
I will take you through the steps to size it for your project and place it on your chipboard for cutting. Plus, you can even use cereal boxes to make jigsaw puzzles on your Cricut. Stay tuned!
Cricut Maker vs Explore Air for DIY Jigsaw Puzzles
If you have an Explore Air, the thickest chipboard you can cut is .37mm thick with the fine-point blade. So, you can still do this project with the Explore Air, but you just have to use a different base material.
Cricut Jigsaw Project Materials
Here’s what you’ll need to make a personalized jigsaw puzzle using your Cricut machine:
- Cricut Maker cutting machine
- Cricut Design Space account
- Puzzle cut design by Jen Goode (#M68E363)
- Cricut Knife Blade
- Cricut Chipboard (I used 2.0mm heavy chipboard) (here is an Amazon link to the Cricut chipboard if you prefer)
- Cricut Printable Vinyl (here is an Amazon link to the Cricut printable vinyl if you prefer – you may also want to check the price because it is often half the price of the Cricut website)
- Optional: Cricut Brayer (to smooth out the printable vinyl on your chipboard – I did not use one)
- Your picture – if you don’t have one and need an idea, how about creating the puzzle using this Alphabet JPG for your toddler!
- Masking or painter’s tape
Step 1: Design Your Puzzle.
To begin, open Cricut Design Space and insert the puzzle cut design by Jen Goode (#M68E363). Go to images and type #M68E363 into the search bar.
Then, click on ADD TO CANVAS. This will start a new project for you and place the puzzle cut out on your canvas.
Upload your image to your canvas:
- Go to Upload on the left menu.
- Click UPLOAD IMAGE and choose your image from your computer browser.
Note: if you want to use our “TWO THE MOON” image, type #M34C1B0D in the search bar and load this image onto your canvas.
Once your image is uploaded, you now have both the puzzle and the image on your canvas.
Step 2: Resize Your Puzzle Design.
Resize both the puzzle and the image to the same dimensions of 6.5 x 6.5. This puzzle works best as a square.
When resizing your photo, you may have to cut off a piece if the shape of your picture isn’t square. My image is a square, so it works easily.
I know you will be tempted, as I was, to make this puzzle larger than 6.5.” HOWEVER, you really can’t. Cricut has a specification that for print and cut designs, one side can’t be larger than 6.75”. I’ve seen puzzle designs that are 6.75 x 9. So if you want a larger finished puzzle, you could go with a rectangle shape.
Step 3: Fine-Tune Your Puzzle Design.
Now, it’s time to do some fine-tuning.
Highlight both items and click on align (at the top) to place your two pieces exactly together on your canvas. Choose CENTER on the align tab.
Bring the puzzle pic to the front so it covers the photo and click ATTACH on the bottom right corner. This keeps your pieces together for the cutting process so the machine knows not to cut them on different pages.
Be sure to click the eyeball next to the white box on the list of puzzle cuts; this will make the puzzle transparent so you can place it on top of your image and see your photo through the puzzle cuts.
Step 4: Prepare Your Puzzle Material and Cricut Machine.
Now, it’s time to think about what base layer you are going to use for your puzzle. Light or heavy chipboard works well. I happen to have 2.0 mm heavy chipboard, and I made one puzzle with this.
I’ve even seen people use a cereal box, which is made of very light chipboard. If you want to try this project out without much expense, this may be a great way to go. The Cricut Explore Machine will cut through the cereal box using the fine point blade and by setting it on more pressure.
Go to the three lines at the upper left corner of Design Space and click on MANAGE CUSTOM MATERIALS. If you are choosing a cereal box, you need to select that from the list. Click edit on the right and change the setting of multi-cuts to 3x. Note that it requires a deep-cut blade to make this cut. If you are cutting heavy chipboard, you will need the knife blade.
Step 5: Print and Cut Your Puzzle.
The really nice thing about Cricut is that it will control your printer as well.
Go ahead and click MAKE IT in the upper right-hand corner of Design Space.
You will now see the two processes on the left side of your screen that need to happen. The first is “print then cut” your photo; the second is “Cut” your puzzle shapes.
When you click print, it will give you the option to send this to your printer. Be sure you have loaded your printable vinyl into your printer with the correct side facing up. Check your printer for which side needs to be facing up. Select PRINT.
Your printer will print your photo with a large black box around the outside of the image. Your Cricut machine will use that black box to calibrate where it needs to actually cut the square of your image.
Next, you will click on CUT. Make sure you select the base material you are using. Change your blade to the knife blade if you are using heavy chipboard.
Peel the backing off of your printable vinyl and attach it to your chipboard.
Use a brayer if you have one to make sure you have a very good seal with no bubbles between the chipboard and vinyl.
Load the chipboard onto the StrongGrip Mat and tape the edges of the heavy chipboard down with painter’s tape or masking tape. Cricut suggests this so you don’t have any movement of your chipboard during the cutting process. The thicker the chipboard, the more passes the blade will do in order to cut through the thickness.
A Cereal box only takes 3 passes, heavy chipboard could take as many as 20 passes. If using light chipboard, you do not have to tape it to the mat. I tried this with a cereal box using a StandardGrip Mat and it worked very well.
Step 6: Wait. And Wait!
After you click cut, you’ll need to wait. And wait.
My heavy chipboard took 90 minutes to cut out. I checked it at 15 passes and it was cut through so I stopped the cut there. Cricut doesn’t recommend stopping it before all of the cuts are finished, but I was impatient. (Patience: not my best virtue!)
The wait was worth it, though – check out the final result!
The cereal box takes a lot less time to cut – less than 10 minutes. BUT, I should have made sure all of the cuts had gone all the way through. When I took it off the mat I had to take a sharp craft knife to gently finish a couple of the cuts on the backside.
Heavy Chipboard vs. Cereal Box For Cricut Jigsaw Puzzles
I LOVE that I can reuse something we would have just thrown away! Repurposing a cereal box seems like a win to me! It’s also a material we have readily available in this household (can you say, teenage son? Ha!).
The cereal box is also a great material to practice on. If you mess something up as you go, there’s no sweat! Just throw away the cereal box and try again!
On the other hand, little toddler hands will have a much easier time putting together the thicker heavy chipboard pieces. They snap in place so much easier than a thin cardboard piece does.
So there are pros and cons to each. If you have the knife blade, I suggest the heavy chipboard.
Note from Rebekah: The heavy chipboard is a thousand times better than the cereal box! I totally agree that you should practice on the cereal box, but if you want a functional, easy-to-manipulate puzzle, use the heavy chipboard. I was personally having trouble getting the cereal box puzzle pieces to stay together… I was kind of sweating by the time I had it all done! Haha!
Common Mistakes When Doing a Cricut Jigsaw Puzzle Project
Here are my mistakes and mishaps from doing this project. I hope these help you avoid them or at least know you are not alone!
- The first time I tried to make this, I didn’t attach all of my pieces together. When Cricut made the cut for the photo, it was fine, but then when it cut the puzzle pieces, it wasn’t aligned properly with my picture and I had to take the project out and start over.
- My daughter had an older HP printer that would not print on the printable vinyl. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t. I came home and tried it on my newer HP printer and it worked fine without any problems.
I couldn’t find a list of compatible printers on the Cricut website, but here are some recommendations from other Cricut DIYers:
- Canon PIXMA TS9521C (around $280 but may be out of stock – this printer is specifically made for crafting projects, hence the “C” in the name)
- Canon PIXMA TR4520 (around $250)
- HP Envy 5055 (around $210)
- Epson Eco Tank ET-2720 (around $300)
- HP Office Jet Pro 8035 (around $260)
- HP DeskJet 3755 Compact All-in-One Wireless Printer (around $90)
- HP ENVY Photo 7855 All in One Photo Printer (around $100)
I love that I have a personalized puzzle to give to two-year-old Jack and his older sister (who may need to be called on to help him put it together).
The heavy chipboard seems like a very nice material for little hands to maneuver, but the cereal box chipboard is something most people have on hand. Whatever material you choose to use, just have fun creating something completely unique that no one else has!
Think up fun puzzle gifts you could give to friends, or make these as party favors for children to take home.