After completing a puzzle we often find ourselves with a sense of pride and accomplishment but also the question of what to do with a puzzle once it's complete. Whether displaying, framing, donating, or keeping it for another future assembly, it's important to have a plan. Choosing what to do with the puzzle afterward is a matter of personal choice so here are some helpful tips on how to properly take apart and store a puzzle to minimize damage.
How To Disasseble A Puzzle Without Harming The Puzzle.
As a jigsaw puzzle manufacturer at The Missing Piece Puzzle Company, I belong to many groups of people who are very serious puzzlers. Jigsaw puzzles are not all created equal, as I have first hand knowledge of, and damaging a puzzle can happen in a second if it is made of subpar materials. Some puzzles are made extremely thin and will easily break if you don't use a tender hand when disassembling.
I've seen You-Tube video's of people rolling their puzzles to break them apart, and cringe every time. This is NOT the ideal way to take apart a puzzle if the materials are thin. If the puzzle is of a thicker and well made nature, it's okay to try this if you are in a pinch. I am able to carefully use this practice with my puzzles because they are thicker than most and are made sturdy. It is not recommended to disassemble a puzzle this way.
If your puzzle is thin, DO NOT roll a puzzle to disassemble as you will end up with cracked and broken pieces. Rolling the puzzle places stress on the parts of the puzzle that connect, such as the knobs and on pointy pieces. During the process of rolling, the puzzle pieces are placed under pressure and may develop stress cracks, chips, and breaks. You can also damage the backing of the puzzle, resulting in tears in the cardboard. My expert advice is DON'T, just don't...
While it may take longer to disassemble a puzzle in sections, it is definitely recommended if you cherish the puzzle and do not want to damage the pieces.
Expert Tips On Storing A Puzzle.
Getting the dust off of the puzzle before storing it is helpful. Gently wiping the surface of the puzzle with a clean, dry, non-abrasive cloth should get any surface dust off. Also consider using a collander to place the puzzle pieces into and gently shaking them to further remove any puzzle dust that might be on the bottom of the puzzle. I also like to do this BEFORE I assemble a puzzle.
Using Ziplock Bags For Puzzle Storage.
Ziplock bags come in handy in a few ways. First, they help to protect the puzzle from accidental spills or falls. I've had a few puzzles that have been accidently tipped over while in their box and the lid has been dislodged, leaving me to search for scattered pieces. It isn't fun and has caused a bit of anxiety of hoping that I found all of the pieces.
Ziplocks also can be helpful for keeping moisture out of the puzzle. While not a foolproof plan, I always try to store my puzzles with a little known secret - - -Boveda. Boveda are packets that remove moisture, kind of like the packet that you would receive in a new shoe box to wick the moisture out. Boveda are incredible at controlling humidity and work well with either cardboard or wooden puzzles. I place one into a ziplock with the puzzle pieces as a precaution and know that they will be protected. I would not recommend using the tiny packets that you would find in a new shoe box, as these are not designed to be used for puzzle purposes.
Ziplocks are also very helpful if you want to separate the edge pieces from the inside pieces. When storing a puzzle, removing tthe edges first and storing them into a smaller bag will definitely help save time for the next assembly. If you choose to separate the edges, be sure to label the bag.
EXPERT TIP ON PUZZLING NEAR A FLOOR VENT: Floor vents like to swallow up random puzzle pieces. If you are assembling a puzzle near a floor vent, I suggest that you remove the vent cover and place a nylon stocking over the vent so that the puzzle pieces cannot disappear in the vent. It's something that I learned in my camping adventures that I use in my household, as well.
PRO TIP: If you are donating the puzzle it might be helpful to label the name of the puzzle and manufacturer on the ziplock bag. Also, if there are either missing or no missing pieces, please write that on the bag. If you would like to fix a puzzle piece to complete the puzzle, check out our blog post on How To Fix A Broken Piece With Household Material.
Factors To Consider When Storing A Puzzle.
Puzzles of any material can be damaged easily with improper storage. Factors such as humidity, light, heat and how the puzzle is handled can impact your jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles should not be stored in any area that can possibly damage either the box or the contents. Here are some facts and suggestions on how to ensure that your puzzles look and function as well as the day you bought them.
Humidity And Puzzles.
Jigsaw puzzles are porous and are easily negatively affected by humidity. While there are many puzzle boards out on the market, most are made of wood, chipboard or cardboard that should be protected from humidity.
Light And Puzzles.
Direct sunlight and UV light are not friends of puzzles. Whether you frame or store your puzzles, please be mindful of any direct sunlight as it may diminish the colors of the puzzle and cause the puzzle to fade, even on the box.
Heat And Puzzles.
While it's very tempting to store your puzzles in an attic, it is not recommended. Heat dries out cardboard, wood, and chipboard and can easily warp or shrink the puzzle pieces fast. It's advisable to keep your puzzles away from any heat source.
The Effects Of Handling Puzzles Without Wearing Gloves.
Everyone has fingerprints, but did you know that fingerprints are made from sweat? Sweat is made of the oils, salts, amino acids, and fats. Not to get into too much of the science, every time you handle a puzzle piece you are transferring these onto your puzzle. If you truly love your puzzles, and I know you do, please consider wearing either cotton or latex gloves when handling puzzle pieces. They are easy to find and inexpensive.
I cherish puzzles and absolutely love making them. Each creation that I make is always made with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Custom puzzles are timeless and personal and deserve to be treated as a family heirloom. Please feel free to comment with any other suggestions that you may have.
As always, puzzle on puzzlers!