How To Complete A Puzzle ?
A question whose answer may seem obvious at first. Or a question that has not often been asked.  

I have been doing puzzles for a very long time.  I've kind of come up with a strategy to complete them.  After-all, completing the puzzle must be one of the objectives of beginning. You can take a look at some of the puzzles I've completed here.  Some puzzles take longer than others. The time it takes is a function of the difficulty, time available to spend working on the puzzle, and how much one likes the image of the puzzle.

Major concerns

Work area,
-magnifying glass

Work area:

You need a work area to complete the puzzle.  I work on any large area table. On top of the table is a large sheet of corrugated cardboard that I can get from my work. My sheet is approximately 33" x 44".  This is large enough to complete puzzles up to about 24" x 30".  A cut out side from a large cardboard box may work. Something like the box for a large TV.  The corrugated sheet is strong enough to move without it bending.  It provides a nice large flat area work surface, and has good contrast to most puzzle colors.  It is not shiny and cause no glare or reflections.  

Although the cardboard is considerably larger than the completed puzzle, extra work area is needed to lay out all the pieces.  Working out of the box is often needed if all the pieces cannot be laid out all at once.  I place the long side in front of me.  This only convenient because most puzzles are longer in the horizontal direction. Although, this is not a rule of puzzle manufacturing.


I have, now standard, LED overhead lighting at 120 watts or greater.  It is located almost directly over me as I stand in front of the table.  Be sure not to have any shadows cast on the puzzle area.  Shadows really get in the way of seeing the colors and shapes well.  You cannot really have too much light.  But again, shadows are not good.  I once tried direct light close to the puzzle area and found it was too strong and almost always cause glare.


I have a timer that at times I've used to measure how long it took to do a puzzle.  I don't use it often because I forget to turn it on then off after each work session.

Magnifying glass:  

I use a magnifying glass to look at box picture details to prove a pieces goes in a certain place.  I then place the piece on the work area in the general vicinity where it goes.  I try not to have any pieces within the puzzle border that I do not know "exactly" where it goes.


I try not to have any pieces within the puzzle border that I do not know "exactly" where it goes.

Blur your focus when trying to discern subtle color differences. 


  1. Separate the edge pieces (edges) from the body pieces (innards).
  2. Sort the edges by some color pattern
  3. Place all the edges with the straight edge up.
  4. Place all similar edged together.  By this I mean, all edges that have 2 tabs go in an area, all edges that have 2 holes go in an area, all edges that have 1 tab on the left and 1 hole on the right go in an area, all edges that have 1 tab on the right and 1 hole on the left go in an area.

Some puzzles have the general piece style the same for all pieces.

After pieces are joined (separate from the puzzle )- they may have to be moved to a different category - hole/hole with a tab/tab becomes a hole/tab. See pic.

If during sorting it is obvious some pieces go together - put them together.   Why wait ?
Connected pieces are sorted then as if they were 1 large piece.

    Shape - number of tabs, number of holes, position on piece of tabs or holes irregular sides, other features
    Color - primary color for the piece
    Pattern - image on the piece
    Word - words or numbers on the piece




11/19/2022 06:57:26 PM
Copyright SAM 2005