The Best & Easiest way to do Jigsaw Puzzles
Every puzzler has their preferred way of doing jigsaw puzzles.
Some puzzlers choose to do them alone while others prefer to do a puzzle as a relaxed family activity or joint effort. There are even competitions, for experienced puzzlers, to see who can do a puzzle first or who can complete the most pieces in a puzzle!!
You can use several techniques to make the experience less frustrating and a quicker process, if that’s what you are looking for, though it has to be said that many people prefer to do jigsaw puzzles as a relaxing hobby and pastime, and are in no rush to finish the puzzle.
You will probably find that a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle is small enough to be spread out on a table with all the pieces face up. This will eliminate sorting the pieces and will make it much quicker to build the puzzle. However, beyond 500 pieces, such as 1,000 & 2,000 etc, because there are more pieces, each piece will contain a smaller portion of the puzzle image/photo, so it will be easier to sort into the various piles, detailed below.
Either way, different people have different strategies & proven methods. Below we give you some of the more popular and familiar ways, tips & techniques to do your puzzle and if you follow these general guidelines, you won’t be far off of the mark. Hope it helps!
- Once you have emptied out the pieces onto the table or puzzle map, turn each piece so that it is facing upwards. It will make the task of building the jigsaw puzzle much easier and more enjoyable.
- As you turn the pieces face upwards, place all the edge pieces into one pile. It will also help if you can make several small piles of the interior pieces. You can do this by putting them into piles by which part of the puzzle you think they appear to come from.
With the majority of jigsaw puzzles it will be easier and quicker to start with the edge pieces.
Now all the pieces are on the table, it is time to put them face upwards and into piles, starting with the edge pieces first
Don’t worry about finding the four corner pieces, as these will naturally emerge as you piece together the edges pieces. Likewise with any missing edge pieces, these will turn up eventually.
If you take an example of a jigsaw puzzle of say, a car outside a village pub on a snowy winters day.
- You would have a pile of your edge pieces
- You could then have a pile of pieces that appear to be the snow
- Likewise a pile for pieces that appear to be the car, a pile that appears to be the village pub, and
- A pile of pieces that are part of the surrounding area, perhaps the sky/clouds etc.
Obviously you will not get the piles correct with the right amount of pieces, that would spoil part of the challenge, but it can help to break down the puzzle by having these different piles.
- Once you have the various piles, you can start to assemble the puzzle. This is always best done by starting with the edges, the border. Once the surrounding border is complete, you are then able to work your way in.
- You are now able to sort some of the other piles out. You can sort these by colour first and do pay attention to lines and certain images. If, for example the puzzle consists of a house or property, lines to the doors, windows and roofing area would be a giveaway.
A couple of factors that decide the difficulty of a jigsaw puzzle are the puzzle maker and the die used, this can have a bearing on how easy you can tell the difference from one piece to another, but seeing as you have already purchased your puzzle, there is little you can do about this.
Another factor is the contrast of the puzzles image/photo. You will find the more variety of colours and better the contrast; the easier you will be able to do the puzzle.
- Jigsaw pieces come with, what are often termed, ‘knobs’ and ‘holes’. You will see pieces with 4 holes and no knobs, pieces with 4 knobs and no holes and all the different variations in-between such as 2 knobs with 2 holes or 1 knob with 3 holes etc, etc. As you become more familiar and experienced you will have a good idea if certain pieces will fit into certain places.
Experienced puzzlers even sub divide their piles into, say for example, blue sky pieces into piles with 2 knobs and 2 holes in one pile and say, 1 knob and 3 holes of the blue sky pieces into another pile. This method allows them to find pieces quicker if they have pieces already in the puzzle and they need to find a piece to fit, which has a certain amount of knobs & holes.
A jigsaw piece showing 2 'knobs' and 2 'holes'
- Make sure you have plenty of room not just to do the jigsaw puzzle but also areas for the separate piles. This is more additionally important if more than one person is involved in the puzzle, since you won’t get in each other’s way. Plenty of light is also an important consideration.
Ideally you would have a white puzzle mat as this reflects the light and is a brilliant contrast to the puzzle pieces, but if no white puzzle mat is to hand then regular puzzle mats/folding puzzle boards are good, since you can roll up the puzzle, allowing you to reclaim the kitchen/dining room table and get the puzzle out again when you wish to restart it.
- Don’t expect to complete a puzzle in an afternoon or a single session and do be prepared to take a break every now and then. It’s like a lot of other tasks, when you come back to something, a set of ‘fresh’ eyes finds/uncovers things tired eyes did not see.
- Finally, for those who wish to take their puzzles more seriously, investing in a lighted magnifying glass would perhaps be a good idea.