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
-1 1/2" paddle bit
-ruler/ straight edge
-metal number stamp set (optional. After a quick Google search, I found a set for less than five bucks!)
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.
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.
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.
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."
Voilà! You have a pizza puzzle, made fresh and ready to serve!
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.