I love an opportunity to get a little crafty, so we both get to enjoy the purchase!
Here is the 'before' puzzle- its scratched up and some of the pieces are chipped.
Firstly, gently sand pack all the pieces using a fine grit sandpaper. You don't need to go back to bare wood, you just need to remove as much of the lacquer varnish from the pieces to enable the fresh paint to stick. If the pieces are missing parts, use a little car bog or spacfiller to fill in the gaps. Once dried, sand back to smooth.
Rather than go out and buy new paint, i used what I had at home: basic artists acrylic paint. If you have spray paint or lacquer you can totally use those on wood. Just remember the paint trick: oil based finishes will go over acrylic finishes, but not the other way around.
Having watched Hunter play with this puzzle before the revamp, I knew that he needed a little extra help figuring out where the pieces go. I was just going to paint the insert to match the colour of the puzzle pieces, but then I remembered my collection of origami paper. I went through the pieces, finding patterns in similar hues to the puzzle pieces. A smarter person would have chosen their paper first, and then mixed paint to match...I prefer the idea of the pattern because it is a little bit of abstract extension for his developing mind.
I traced the puzzle pieces directly onto the origami paper, and then fiddled around with tidying the edges to get a snug fit. I found an X-acto knife/scalpel to be invaluable, but scissors worked great too. Using a small amount of wood glue (acid free craft glue) I glued the paper down.
Once dried, I took the base board and the puzzle pieces outside and varnished them, using a spray matte varnish.
I can't wait for Hunter to wake up and play with his 'new' puzzle!