How To Do Jigsaw Puzzles Like An Expert FAST | 6 Tips and Tricks For Puzzle Success  The Missing Piece Puzzle Company

How To Do Jigsaw Puzzles Like An Expert FAST | 6 Tips and Tricks For Puzzle Success

Jigsaw Puzzles have always been a great project in my household.  I find that puzzles are a great way to rid myself of the blues and to strategically spend a few satisfying hours with one goal in mind...complete the puzzle. 

Now that old-style jigsaw puzzles are coming back in fashion, we've seen an increase in customers ordering custom puzzles.  Occasionally, we get a request from a customer asking for advice on how to put a challenging jigsaw puzzle together faster and more effectively.  

There are a number of tricks and tips that can help you assemble a puzzle with less frustration, FAST.  

EXPERT TIP:  If you are practicing for speed puzzle events, we have a series of blog posts to help get your started.  Check out our post on Speed Puzzling Tips.

While we have to assemble puzzles on a regular basis, here are some expert tips and tricks that will help with assembling your puzzle at home successfully:


1.  Choose A Work Area That Fits The Puzzle

Most jigsaw puzzles will show the finished size on the puzzle box.  It's important to choose a proper area that will not be in the way of daily routines.  While a kitchen table is an excellent place to assemble a puzzle, it might not be the most practical place for your adventure.  Look for a card table or another flat surface that might not be disturbed easily.  Look for a low-traffic area or flat surface that will hold the size of the puzzle and be undisturbed.  Puzzle Mats come in quite handy if you have to move the puzzle.

EXPERT TIP:  If you plan on gluing your finished project, assemble on a piece of cardboard that is 2 or more inches larger than the finished size of the puzzle on all sides.  You will need to flip the puzzle over to glue and this will save some work down the road.  Check out our article on How To Glue A Puzzle.  Also, placing the puzzle on vinyl will help you move the pieces easier and faster.  It's the surface of choice in puzzle competitions.

2.  Lighting is the key to assembling a puzzle FAST.  

In order to properly see the colors and patterns on a puzzle, lighting plays a big factor in the success of any avid puzzler.  Floor lamps may work temporarily, but provide for shadows and also can strain the back  There are many desk lamps that are recommended but be sure to find one that can be turned and maneuvered without disturbing the pieces.  If choosing a desk lamp, I recommend a wireless one to avoid any mishaps with the cord.

EXPERT TIP:  I've had great success with a headlamp that I picked up from the local hardware store.  They are relatively inexpensive and are not intrusive. 

3.  Turn All Puzzle Pieces Picture Side Up | Sorting and Grouping

This step will cut assembly time and may require a bit of patience.  Turning all pieces so that the picture side is facing up may seem like a tedious task, but it can save time in the long run.  While turning the pieces, you can easily sort the puzzle by edge and middle, placing the edges of the puzzle in one area and center pieces in another area.  If you have sorting trays or paper plates, you can also sort by color.  

Sort all remaining pieces based on edge or center.  Sorting the pieces based on the pattern and color of the puzzle photo will also save time.    

EXPERT TIP: When sorting the edge pieces you can cut corners and sort through most, not all, of the pieces. The remaining edge pieces will easily show up as you are assembling.  To help save time and a mess, lift the puzzle pieces out of the box by hand to avoid any dust from manufacturing.  Empty the dust in the trash and use the box for sorting.  At The Missing Piece Puzzle Company, we make sure that our puzzles are as dust free as possible. 

Here's a great and comprehensive article on sorting techniques that may help during a puzzle competition:  The Art Of Effective Sorting

4.  Assembling The Border

Now that you have your pieces separated by border and center, place the photo of the puzzle on the table and lay all of the border pieces out in one area by color, texture, or pattern.  You can begin assembling the border based on your photo and the finished size of the puzzle.  Assemble the edges based upon the finished shape of the puzzle.  For example, round puzzles will generally have rounded edge pieces.  If you are looking for a corner you may not find one!

EXPERT TIP:  Leave the center of the frame empty when assembling the border pieces.  This will save time when you are ready to assemble the center.


5.  Assembling The Center

All puzzle pieces have what I call hooks or knobs.  Now that you have sorted the pieces by color, texture, or shape, you can begin placing them together based on whether the hooks and knobs will line up.  Many times it's obvious when they will (or won't) line up.  It's recommended that you work in small sections of the puzzle, as some sections will be easier and faster to assemble.  Once you complete a little section its time to place it within the framework of the puzzle.  Try to place it in the area that it will be when you have completed the puzzle.  
EXPERT TIP:  Work on a small section at a time instead of trying to place pieces throughout the puzzle.  Starting with an area that has a pattern or wording and working your way out, work your way toward the edge of the puzzle.  If you get stuck, start on a new section.


6.  Keep Working On It And Don't Give Up

Puzzles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels.  At times you might need to step away from the puzzle and take a break from assembling.  A fresh set of eyes always helps.  Puzzling should be a fun experience and should not be frustrating. Whether it is taking more time than you allotted, just know that this is a common occurrence.  The more you puzzle to develop your skills, the easier you'll find puzzling and the better you'll become. 
EXPERT TIP:  Walking around the table or looking at it from another angle with a fresh perspective usually helps.  Take a look for gaps or high/low points in the puzzle to check for any misplaced piece, as these are usually indicators that something isn't in the proper place.  Puzzles should be tight and flat on top when the pieces are appropriately placed.


To Frame Or Not To Frame

Congratulations on completing your puzzle.  Now it's time to decide if you will be framing your masterpiece or crumbling it back up to put in the box to share with another, or to redo the puzzle at a later time.  If you decide to frame your puzzle, we have some expert tips and advice on using glue, or not using glue.  Check out the blog on GLUING A PUZZLE or NOT GLUING A PUZZLE.  

I hope that you enjoyed these suggestions and that they help you assemble even the toughest puzzle with skill and ease.   If you think you're now ready to host a jigsaw puzzle competition, check out our Blog on HOW TO HOST A SUCCESSFUL JIGSAW PUZZLE FUNDRAISER.



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