Introduction: How to Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle
Putting together jigsaw puzzles is a lot of fun. They are very inexpensive now and many public libraries have a selection for members to check out. If you haven't worked on a jigsaw puzzle before, here are some tips to help you get started.
Step 1: Basic Puzzle Pieces
Most puzzle pieces fall into several shape categories. As I haven't been able to find names for these shapes I named them.
Edge: these include corners. Edges are the easiest pieces to put together because they only have two sides to find pieces for to form the puzzle frame.
Regular: these are the most basic puzzle piece shape.
Irregular: these are regular on two sides and have one “wing”.
Double wings: these have two “wings”.
Double ears: these have two opposing tabs or ears.
Step 2: You Will Need a Flat Area to Assemble the Puzzle
The dimensions of the puzzle will be on the box. Make sure your area is bigger than the puzzle! You can use a spare table, the floor or you can purchase special jigsaw puzzle boards or felt that can be rolled up. I use a piece of plywood put on top of a coffee table. The plywood can be stowed when not in use or picked up, puzzle and all, if I want it out of the way.
Lay your pieces out and select all the edge pieces. Put them in the middle where the puzzle will be put together.
Step 3: Lay Out All of the Pieces Face Up
I use two end tables on either side of the sheet of plywood so I can lay out every piece in columns. This way I can easily scan up and down the columns to select a particular color or shape.
Step 4: Put Any Pieces That Don’t Fit on Your Work Areas on a Piece of Cardboard.
As you use pieces from around the puzzle, back-fill the holes with the overflow pieces to leave the puzzle area free of any odd pieces.
Step 5: Start With Some Easy Parts
Most puzzles will have some parts that are slightly easier than others. On this puzzle I selected the white and purple tablecloth and a red and white wall.
Put the sections together on a piece of cardboard so they can be slid into place easily.
If there is a lot of sky or any similar monochrome area I like to do that part first. It’s not the easiest part of the puzzle but good to get it out of the way.
Step 6: Words Are Usually Easy to Pick Out.
Step 7: The Striped Awning Was Another Easy Part.
Group together any pieces you think go into the same area.
Step 8: These Red and Blue Pieces Made Up a Window.
I selected all of the pieces with a blue diagonal strip to form the window. Diagonal patterns can be challenging.
Step 9: Sort Remaining Pieces Into Shapes.
Once you reach a certain point in the puzzle (depending on the puzzle that might come sooner or later), it’s time to rearrange the remaining pieces into groups of similar shapes. Make sure they are all oriented the same way.
If you place the different groups of shapes on pieces of cardboard it’s easy to turn the whole piece of cardboard around so that the pieces are oriented to the shape that needs to be filled in.
Step 10: Almost Finished …
The very end will usually be the most challenging part of the puzzle but it gets easier with each piece you put in place.
Step 11: Finished!
Stand back and enjoy your finished puzzle. It’s a good idea to store the pieces in a large zip lock bag inside the box. Pass the puzzle on to a friend or donate it to a worth cause such as the oncology ward in a hospital where people have a lot of time to kill waiting for treatment.
Question 1 year ago on Step 10
I am doing a 1000 piece puzzle. I have 20 pieces left and twenty empty spaces. None of the pieces will fit in any of the spaces. They're all shades of blue. I suspect a mistake somewhere but even with a magnifying glass I can't find any. Any ideas? I hate to start over, but I don't want to give up either.
3 years ago
i would like to suggest an extension to the naming of pieces as the conventions here only give one orientation. I find it useful to have a full name in mind when looking for a particular piece For example Irregular is made up of left footer, right footer, top left footer and top right footer. the two wings piece I call man (cos it looks like it has arms and feet) and addition names are of man on head, man lying left and man lying right. The regular adds only 'regular on side'. The three tab pieces I call by the hole ie one hole down, up , left, right. The 4 tab not mentioned above is self explanatory Edges and corners are also fine.
For puzzle lovers there are some apps that down load free puzzles to a pc or allow you to make your own puzzles on your pc from photos. I am currently using microsoft jigsaw which allows you to win points to 'pay' for puzzles, chose different numbers of pieces for a picture (up to about 600), change the colour of the background, has sorting trays and a handy arrange button that pulls out all the edge pieces (still muddled ) and shoves the rest of the pieces to the side. In also 'clicks' the piece into place if you drop it in the right place. It is not a perfect app but it is free and works reasonably well on my windows 10. One major difference from real puzzles is all the pieces are picture side up and top edge up. I can do it on my lap on my net book, no big board, no lost pieces or cat sitting on it or playing with pieces. Other apps out there but this is the only one I've tried. Enjoy!
Reply 3 years ago
Wow, you've really thought about the pieces thoroughly, thanks.
I was "addicted" to doing puzzles on line once but had to quit cold turkey. You are right, on line and tactile puzzles are completely different.
6 years ago
Thanks. I like grouping colours too but with some puzzles, especially humorous cartooons, the same colours are scattered throughout the puzzle. I'm working on one like that now.
6 years ago
Awesome! This approach sounds like way more fun than just doing the edges and then looking for groups of colours. Thanks.
7 years ago on Step 11
Lordy!! This is way more than I wanted to know!!!
Reply 7 years ago
Thanks, I guess it's just right for a novice then.
7 years ago
Good tips. I usually build the edges first and work my way in from there. Sometimes puzzles have patterns on the back that makes sorting out pieces easy, but it takes the fun out of puzzles.
Reply 7 years ago
I'm not organized enough to build inwards, that would take more discipline than I have.