Pizza Puzzle!

Pizza Puzzle (click through to learn more)       Pizza seems to transcend solely being a food item (or group) and teeters into social symbolism. The reason has to be that pizza is so dang good, people (like me) can't handle just eating it! I must have been craving some pizza when I was a thinking of an idea for a fun children's puzzle. I asked myself, what do most kids love to eat? Pizza, of course. I thought, if they love pizza, maybe they'd like a pizza puzzle. After this deep conversation with myself, I decided to make a pizza puzzle.

So I made a pizza puzzle. I'm going to show you how to bake your own.

-hardwood plywood. I used a combination of oak (for the dough-looking parts) and poplar (for the cheese-covered-looking part)

-1 1/2" doweling
-paint or stain
-wood glue


-1 1/2" paddle bit
-string/pencil/skinny dowel/nail
-ruler/ straight edge
-metal number stamp set (optional. After a quick Google search, I found a set for less than five bucks!)

Pizza Puzzle - creating circle (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - creating circle (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - creating circle (click through to learn more)Step One: Roll out, er, cut the dough. Decide what size pizza you want to make. I think I made a medium-sized one; its about 14" in diameter. Take a nail, and hammer it in the center of the board (you're going to want to remove that nail, so it doesn't have to be super deep). Tie one end of the string to the nail and the other end to the pencil, keeping the string pushed down toward the board on both ends. Draw the circle. Shorten the string a little bit and draw another, smaller circle. The outer ring you just created is the crust. 

Note: You can also make the contraption I have pictured above. It's just a nail and pencil tied to a dowel rod. It works great; I use it all the time for drawing circles bigger than my compass can handle.

Pizza Puzzle - creating circle (click through to learn more)Step Two: Draw the pizza slices with a ruler. Next, drill a hole into the center circle and cut out with your jigsaw. I wasn't concerned with cutting it out perfectly because pizzas aren't perfect circles. Go ahead and cut the outer circle. You should have a ring now. Trace the inner edge and cut that out. Then trace the outer edge on another piece of wood and cut that out. Be sure to keep your saw perpendicular to the cutting surface; you want the edges as even as possible. Otherwise, taking apart and assembling the puzzle will be a pain in the tush. You should now have three pieces: the ring and two discs.

Pizza Puzzle - tracing pepperoni (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - tracing pepperoni (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - tracing pepperoni (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - tracing pepperoni (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - tracing pepperoni (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - unpainted (click through to learn more)Step Three: Cut several dowels to the thickness of the wood you use for the pizza. Cut one, then trace it where you want them all to be; then you'll know how many total are needed. After you have the pepps traced, drill the holes. When I did this, the inner disc only fit one way because of the irregular circle, so I numbered the slices and their corresponding crust. After you have the pepperoni holes cut, you'll probably need to sand them pretty aggressively so the pepp pieces fit nicely. Cutting out the slices is next. I used a table saw and cut free-form. I wouldn't recommend this method. Use your jigsaw; I think the imperfect lines would look cool too! Use a hand saw to cut shallow grooves in the crust. Sand everything nice and smooth.

Pizza Puzzle - clamping (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - clamping (click through to learn more)Pizza Puzzle - clamping (click through to learn more)Step Four: At this stage you may choose to either paint or stain the different pieces. You may want the colors to be brighter (or even leave it raw wood; I thought it looked pretty cool that way). I did a ton of research to see whether or not stain and poly finish is child safe. All I found was a huge rift (online) arguing for both sides, each appearing just as valid and rational. In the end, I came to the conclusion that this puzzle was geared for children past the age of sticking everything in their mouths anyway, so I wasn't too worried about it. I may do a future post on child-safe stains and finishes; it's a rather dicey/controversial subject (as are most child-safety topics). In the end, it's up to the parents to keep an eye on their offspring.

I stained the pizza bottom before gluing and clamping onto the crust. While that was drying, I stained the pepperonis using Rust-Oleum's Cabernet.

When everything was nice and dry, I stamped numbers into the slices and their corresponding "crusts."

Pizza Puzzle (click through to learn more)Voilà! You have a pizza puzzle, made fresh and ready to serve!

Pizza Puzzle (click through to learn more)            Pizza Puzzle (click through to learn more)            Pizza Puzzle (click through to learn more)            Thanks to Elias and Michelle for hanging out and playing with the pizza puzzle! 

Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Joshua Rhodes and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.

  • A future project for sure! Why stamp numbers? Puzzle can be flipped, yes?
    Just use contrasting wood; no need to worry about stain. Use safe water based finish.

    • Hi, this is such a great idea.
      May i know what is the thickness of this pizza puzzle?

  • For some reason I’m only able to comment when I reply to someone, so I apologize but I love this DIY! What a cool idea! I love puzzles and a pizza puzzle is genius.

  • I dig this. I would love to make this with my sister (who is a HUGE fan of pizza.)


  • Hia Josh, you’re such a valuable addition to the ABM team, I always scroll-race when I see your name at the top of a post, can’t wait to see what you’ve done next!

    Love this project! So brilliant!

    One Q: I have an 8 year old son. He’s desperate to start wood working – drags the tool box out every day after school and starts banging nails in to sticks, cutting things etc…I used to woodwork with my Grandad when I was little, so I know it’s a really really great way to learn about planning, patience, persistence…BUT I’m looking everywhere and can’t find any child friendly woodworking projects anywhere online (it seems its a bit of a niche that’s lacking a good blog!) – have you any plans to post some child friendly projects/tips (as in projects that children could make)? (That would be GREAT!)…I did find a bird house plan so we’ll give that a bash (no pun intended!) this weekend. It would be great if ABM could use their genius creativity for some cool kiddies wood working projects….

    In the meantime, you’ve totally fired me up and instilled me with confidence that I can install some shelving this weekend…wish me luck!!! (Obviously my son will help me with this!)

  • Totally loving this! Going to try out a little DIY and make a birthday cake inspired one for my daughter who is obsessed with all things birthdays at the moment!

  • I would love to see a post on child-safe stains and finishes! I was wondering about that.

  • OMG, does anyone remember the board game, Pizza Party? This brings back the best memories.

  • I love this!

    And I especially like that rug… could you share where it’s from?

  • so cool…you are a genius..i am sure every time i see it, i would want a pizza…


  • That is really, really a great idea for the children. I like it. It is so original and perfect for learn them.

  • The kids I babysit for would LOVE this in their play kitchen!

    Thank you, and keep up the great work! I’m going to try building your honeycomb shelves when our rennovation is finished.

  • Thanks Cori! The more I learn about woodworking, then less it seems I know! It’s a fun learning process.
    thanks for reading.

  • Hey Bri, I used both. I used a hand sander to smooth the surfaces I could reach, then used sandpaper to get the holes and pepperonis.

  • Gorgeous! This would be such a sweet and sentimental gift for a little one.

    Warm Regards,

  • This is so incredibly lovely! Would make an awesome present for my nephew, thanks for the inspiration!! X

  • Just popping in to say you’ve quickly become my favorite author. Love your authentic writing style.

  • I am loving the stained look! This is such a cute idea!

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