How to Make a DIY Magnetic Puzzle

Finished DIY Magnetic Map Puzzle

When we were designing my son’s room, we knew we were doing a car and truck, things that move, transportation-themed room because he loves all those things.

I knew that on one of his walls I would want a map of some type. I looked all over the internet and Esty and even at some DIY’s. I knew I wanted one that was educational with some details on it and big enough to easily see the names of the different places. However, I also did not want it to be too overwhelming.

Then, my mom and I found the perfect map. It was of the U.S., had all the state names, the state capitals, and cute pictures that helped described the state. It also was in the colors of my son’s room and very colorful and fun.

It was perfect in every way, including the size.

It was a Melissa and Doug U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle that measured 2 by 3 feet and had 51 pieces. We originally thought we would just glue it together and hang it on his walls. It would be so cute and really cost-effective and fun with the puzzle texture.

Then we thought, wouldn’t it be so fun if we made it interactive for the kids? What if we made it a magnetic puzzle that they could put together while it was hanging up!

Doesn’t that sound so fun?! Spoiler Alert: It is so fun! My kids love love love to look at the map and point to different states and ask where different people like Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles live. They also love to have me ask “Where’s Oregon?” and different states and see who can find it first. My son is in first grade and he has an older sister in third grade and two younger sisters who aren’t in school yet. They all love to play with it and they love to take off the puzzle pieces and put it back together again! It is so fun!

We researched where to find a magnetic board and was looking at a steel galvanized board that was a little too big and we would have to maybe cut it down. 

 Then, looking through Pinterest, I saw a DIY magnetic board made by Sweet-Verbena.blogspot.com for their kids ABC’s and different magnetics, and the sheet of metal was exactly the size I needed and cheaper than the one I was originally looking at. Perfect! I also knew it worked well from reading the blog post about it.

So, off to Home Depot we went to pick up our supplies.

We got magnetic tape to put on the back of each puzzle piece, and we got the 2-foot by 3-foot galvanized steel sheet

Then we went to Walmart and bought a 2 foot by 3 foot picture frame.

The other supplies we had at home, here is a list of everything we used.

Supplies for DIY Magnetic Puzzle: 2ft by 3ft Galvanized steel, a U.S. Map Puzzle, Electric Tape, Packing Tape, and 2 by 3ft black frame.

Supplies needed:

Melissa and Doug United States floor puzzle (Or any other puzzle you want to be magnetic)

2 feet by 3 feet galvanized steel sheet (Or other magnetic board): Bought from Home Depot

Magnetic Tape: Bought from Home Depot

2 feet by 3 feet picture frame: Bought at Walmart

Super Glue: Had at home already, but can buy at Walmart or Home Depot

Clear Packaging tape: Already had some at home

Honestly, this magnetic puzzle was harder to put together than we thought it would be. Now that we know what we are doing, it would be so easy to make another!

So first we put the puzzle together to make sure it fit on the galvanized steel and we laid the frame on to make sure it looked like it would fit.

We then flipped the puzzle backward so the back was facing us. We were able to do this and keep it together by layering the completed puzzle between the galvanized steel and the clear acrylic frame front. You could also use the frame backing. We used both at different times.

We then flipped it over and that worked pretty well keeping the puzzle in tack.

We taped the edge pieces of the puzzle together with long strips of magnetic tape. Then we Supe Glued the edge pieces of the puzzle to the galvanized steel. We did this because we thought the puzzle would be sitting inside the frame we bought, so we wanted it to just stay in the frame. This also makes it a little easier for it to stay all together looking nice and neat when the kids were done playing with it, and while they were putting the puzzle together.

DIY electric tape on back of puzzle edges

We then ran out of the Super Glue! What?! If I had realized I would have bought more, but luckily, we had some clear Elmer’s school glue, so we used that to finish up gluing the edges.

While we were waiting for it to dry, we put individual pieces of magnetic tape on the back of the other individual puzzle pieces.   

We then tried to put the galvanized steel and puzzle combo into the picture frame. It was having such a hard time!         

The puzzle was slightly too big for the frame and galvanized steel, so after gluing the edge pieces to the galvanized steel, we cut it down just a little bit  For the puzzle we used an Exacto knife and a glass quilting ruler with my sewing cutting mat underneath, to help cut it nice and straight.

For the galvanized steel, we used kitchen scissors to cut it. Be careful, the edges of the steel can be a little sharp.

We did this only to find out later that we didn’t need to because of how we ended up putting up the puzzle in the end!

 Oh well, we live and we learn. Honestly, I can’t tell we cut it down anyway. Thankfully!

Then, we tried again to put it in the frame, but it was struggling and really difficult! It just would not go in. I think it was just too thick and not flexible enough to go in the frame easily.

Next thing we know, the frame broke! What?! “There’s 20 dollars down the drain,” we thought.

“Now how are we going the puzzle on the wall? Maybe we can just glue the frame back together.”

Instead, we decided to just lay the galvanized steel/puzzle combo that already had the puzzle ends glued to it onto the cardboard backing of the picture frame. That cardboard backing also held the frame hardware to hang it on the wall for this particular frame.

Then we just took clear packaging tape and taped the edges of the finished magnetic puzzle all around the edges and around the back of the cardboard backing. Then we hung it to the wall. We also stuck the individual puzzle pieces which had the magnetic tape back onto it to finish the puzzle.

It was perfect! We loved how it turned out in the end!

Finished DIY Magnetic Map Puzzle

The Puzzle even looks cool without the other puzzle pieces on it. I love it best though with the puzzle all put together because it matches my son’s room so well. This puzzle has been so fun for my kids! They love it!

Pic of Magnetic Puzzle with puzzle pieces missing, which shows the shiny galvanized metal used to make it magnetic..

We did think about maybe fixing the frame and putting it on top, but when we held the frame on top of the magnetic puzzle, we decided we liked the magnetic puzzle better without the frame.

It just looked more fun!

We did realize and laugh about the fact that we probably should have planned to add the frame to it after we got the puzzle hanging on the wall from the beginning. It would have been way less of a hassle and it would have made it a lot faster. Then we wouldn’t have had to cut the galvanized steel or the puzzle down.      

I did also buy the Melissa and Doug World Map Floor Puzzle which has 33 pieces on it and I am thinking about making another one. Maybe for Christmas, or for my son’s birthday. Or whenever I find the time.

I plan to make it the same way, but skip the parts I didn’t have to do. So, if you want to make one to, here is the simplified version of how to make it now that I have made it once and learned from my mistakes.

How to make a DIY magnetic puzzle (the easy way!):

Supplies needed:

Melissa and Doug United States floor puzzle (Or any other puzzle you want to be magnetic)

2 feet by 3 feet galvanized steel sheet (Or other magnetic board in the size you need): Bought from Home Depot

Magnetic Tape: Bought from Home Depot

2 feet by 3 feet picture frame: Bought at Walmart (OR whatever size to fit your finished puzzle.)

Super Glue: Had at home already, but can buy at Walmart or Home Depot

Clear packaging tape: Already had some at home

  1. Put the puzzle together and then flip it so the puzzle is facing down by sandwiching the puzzle between two bigger items, like cardboard, a cutting mat, the backing from the frame, or whatever you have.
  2. Cut the galvanized steel to size if needed, if not proceed to step three.
  3. Use a long strip of magnetic tape and tape all the edge pieces together
  4. Take your Super Glue (and school glue if you run out of Super Glue like I did) and put glue on all the edge pieces. Then stick your galvanized steel sheet on top of it. Make sure The edges are all fitting correctly onto the galvanized steel. Wait for the glue to dry.
  5. Put magnetic tape on all other puzzle pieces while waiting for the glue to dry.
  6. When the glue is dry, take the backing off your frame that fits your puzzle and tape the edges of the magnetic puzzle you just created to the front of the frame backing using clear packing tape.
  7. Hang onto the wall where you want it to go (Make sure kids can see it and reach it easily) and put the magnetic puzzle pieces on to complete the puzzle!
  8. Add the frame on top of the magnetic puzzle already hanging on the wall if you decided you want a framed look
  9. Step back, call your kids in, and enjoy this magnetic puzzle.

There are lots of educational ways to play with this puzzle. I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you want to make your own and what you think in the comments!

Also, check out how I organized the toy’s in my son’s room!

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