How to do Puzzles 101: A Few Puzzle Tips & Tricks

So, you’re looking for a guide on how to solve jigsaw puzzles, are you? We get it - putting together a jigsaw puzzle can be frustrating, especially if you’ve never done it before. There are tons of puzzle techniques out there that tell you not only how to start a jigsaw puzzle, but also how to finish a puzzle quickly. 

If you’re looking for puzzle tricks on being a speed puzzle solver, I’m sorry to say you’re probably not going to find that here. However, if you’re new to puzzles and are looking for jigsaw puzzle tips for beginners, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our before, during, and after puzzling tips. 

Our basic jigsaw puzzle strategy is:

  1. Sort the pieces.
  2. Put the edges together. 
  3. Then just…fill in the middle. 

But, let’s break it down further than that. 

Before You Begin

Consider what you want to do with your puzzle when you finish. Yes, this does require you to think ahead and live in the future for a hot second. If you are going to disassemble it as soon as you complete it, then you’re good to go. By all means, proceed. 

If, however, you want to frame it when you’re done putting it together, you’re going to want to do some prep before you dump the pieces on your table and start puzzle solving. Framing a puzzle will require you to glue it so it doesn’t come apart, so choose your workspace carefully.

Glue is a messy substance, so you likely don’t want it coating the surface of the dining room table that’s been in your family for generations. Lay down a piece of wax paper, cardboard, or a puzzle mat to protect your furniture. 

Also bear in mind that it could take you a few days or weeks of puzzle solving to complete your jigsaw. Consider having a designated puzzling table or a puzzle mat that you can utilize in the event you need to make room when you’re not working on your puzzle. 

Getting Started

The most common strategy for puzzles is to flip all the puzzle pieces so they are facing the same way, then get to sorting. Here is where it will become a personal preference.

Finding all the edge pieces and separating them from the remaining puzzle pieces will allow you to assemble the puzzle border and then work your way toward the middle. Others, however, may like to start from the middle by focusing on prominent sections and working their way out. 

You can take it a step further and sort the pieces by their shape and color. Group similar pieces together and have a “miscellaneous” pile for pieces that don’t have a distinct color or are unique enough to be separated from the crowd. 

Ultimately, you decide how you want to sort your puzzle and piece it together.

In the Thick of It 

As you work through your jigsaw, try to focus on small sections at a time. The smallest pieces make up the bigger picture, after all. Seriously though, working on smaller portions will help keep you motivated and provide you with a visual record of your accomplishments. 

As you finish these sections, place them where they are meant to be in the puzzle, even if they don’t immediately connect to the edge pieces. It will further provide you with visual awareness and may better help you find the surrounding pieces.

Make Adjustments as Needed

Puzzles are meant to be a fun, if challenging, activity. When you find yourself getting bored or irritated with it, take a break! You’ll be surprised how stepping away for a breather can give you a fresh perspective. 

Want to keep pushing through? Try solving it from a different angle. Walk around to the other side of the table and work from that end. Same thing if you’re laser-focused on finding one piece. Shift your focus and come back to it later. There’s a good possibility that you might find it when you aren’t looking!

Wrapping it Up

You’ve finally reached the end of your puzzle and have slid the last piece into place. Congratulations! You didn’t give up. Now go reward yourself with something you love for all your effort and hard work. Perhaps another puzzle? 😏