Jigsaw Puzzle Assembly Tips

Girl with Pieces

Jigsaw puzzles are a fun and relatively inexpensive hobby that also provides good exercise for your brain. Working a puzzle makes for a wonderful family activity, especially on long winter nights or in the evenings at your summer retreat.

Are you one of those people who does the edges first, or do you dive right into the middle of the picture? There's no right or wrong when it comes to working a puzzle but if you're looking for some suggestions on how to put puzzles together faster with increased satisfaction, here are a number of tips. 

Strategies for Putting Together Jigsaw Puzzles

  • Pick a room with good lighting and a surface area that is free of any background patterns - Where you do jigsaw puzzles it's just as important as how you do one. You'll want a dedicated space, such as a dining or card table so you can spread out your pieces. If you purchase a puzzle mat, make sure it's a light color. And lighting is an important factor; natural light is best but not always available when the sun goes down early in the winter months. Puzzles with a matte finish are preferable to minimize the glare. 

  • Turn all the pieces picture-side-up - The first thing you should do when you open up the puzzle and spread it out on the table or other flat surface is to turn every single piece over, so the picture side is facing upward. This is my least favorite part of working a puzzle but once it's done, you'll appreciate having all the pieces face up. If you're doing puzzles that are greater than 1000 pieces, you may run out of table space and will likely need sorting trays; there's all kinds of household items like tops of old shoe boxes, pie tins or cookie sheets that can be used as sorting trays. There are puzzle sorting trays available for purchase but those are generally quite small, so I've included larger trays for purchase on my website (Large Linen Sorting Trays). These trays are multi-purpose trays that people use for all types of things, but they work perfect for sorting puzzle pieces. 

  • Sort pieces by color - While turning pieces over, start putting pieces into groups based on color. Don't worry about grouping all the colors in the beginning, just some of the more obvious ones because it'll get easier once you start to assemble the puzzle. If it's an edge piece, you can put those is a separate group as well. When you're ready to start assembly, start with the easy stuff because the harder sections won't seem as daunting once you've reduced the number of pieces waiting to find their spot.

  • Connect the border pieces - Many puzzlers like to assemble the border first, because that defines the space, you'll be working in. I personally, like to assemble the sections of the puzzle that look the easiest, such as a color grouping that stands out the most, to reduce the number of pieces crowding my work area. 
  • STAND UP so you can view the entire work area - I often find myself standing up so I can view the entire work area which allows me to search for pieces much easier than when I'm seated. This is the most effective way to do the border on a large puzzle.