Once you’ve emptied the contents of the box onto your work area (which should be completely flat and big enough to facilitate the puzzle), turn all pieces face-up and begin sorting. Select all edge pieces and put to one side, then arrange the rest into colour groups – for example, water, grass, parts of buildings/animals etc. Look at the picture on the box and pick out any distinguishing features – for example, a post box or an aeroplane – and put these aside too. Look out for lines and other patterns as you sort the puzzle.
If your puzzle has a lot of pieces in the same colour, keep an eye out for shadows and changes of shade. This could be the difference between pieces that fit on the left hand side of the jigsaw and the right hand side, and could narrow down your options considerably.
Jigsaw pieces usually come in six different shapes, varying from no tabs and four blanks to four tabs and no blanks, so you should also sort the puzzle by shape. Some jigsaws only have square pieces, whereas others will be a mixture of shapes, but all are locked together by tabs and blanks. This sorting process may seem like a tedious task when all you want to do is begin, but this initial organisation can help speed up the next steps.
3.Start at the edge
Many claim that framing the jigsaw – ie. assembling the entire edge of the puzzle – is the best way to start. This gives you a defined space that you can work inside as you build. Some edges can be tricky to connect, especially when there are lots of pieces of the same colour. Don’t worry if you can’t complete every edge piece at this stage – some are hard to find but they will become apparent later on.
Finding the four corner pieces can be an excellent way to get started if you’re struggling. Once you have these you can start to work on the edges one piece at a time.
4.Assembling the jigsaw
Once you have made a start on the edge of your puzzle, you can focus on the rest of it. Always make sure they are all face up so you can see every piece. Use the lid of the box or a tray to keep all pieces securely in one place; this will also allow you to easily ‘stir’ them so you can find the piece you need. Begin focusing on one object in the picture, using the sorting piles you created in Step 1 in order to do this. The puzzle will soon start to grow and it is now that you can start connecting across and vertically to the edges.
You may find that you come across specific problems when you near completion of the puzzle, and you could be struggling to find a single piece. Sorting the pieces into specific shape order will help with this, as for every tab there will be a corresponding blank to fit into it. Separate them into no holes, one hole, two hole, three hole and four hole pieces, and then work through them in a logical sequence until you find the one that fits.
Do you have any tricks to solving jigsaw puzzles? Is it cheating to check the picture on the box? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below, and don’t forget to check out our range of jigsaws online.