Jigsaw Puzzle Strategy: Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Jigsaw Puzzle Strategy: Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

  1. Pick out the perfect beginner's puzzle.
  2. Choose the perfect workspace.
  3. Sort your pieces by edge pieces and color.
  4. Put the border together first.
  5. Put together the rest of the puzzle in sections.
  6. Be patient with yourself and don't give up!

Most puzzles don’t come with instructions, which means new puzzlers have to figure out the process for themselves. Without the right steps, new puzzlers can easily get frustrated. We want to make it easier for first-time puzzlers, whether they are kids or adults, to fall in love with puzzling.

This step-by-step guide on how to do a puzzle is for anyone who is completely new to putting together puzzles and isn’t sure where to start. Let us first say that it’s totally normal to be a little lost. Puzzles are meant to be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, they are also a ton of fun. 

Step One: Pick Out the Perfect Beginner's Puzzle

For new puzzlers, we recommend starting with an easy puzzle. Don’t get too ambitious and choose a 1000-piece puzzle right away. It’s all about building up your skills! Start as small as you want. 

For kids, less than 100-pieces is ideal. For adults who are beginners, a 300-piece puzzle is a great place to start. Go with a puzzle that has a standard shape, like a square or rectangle.  

jigsaw puzzle strategy: A completed puzzle of two white buildings and a red building with a red covered bridge
Old Covered Bridge, 300 piece puzzle

You should also choose a puzzle that has a lot of color variation so that it’s easy to identify where the pieces go. As you get more advanced, you can challenge yourself with puzzles that have fewer colors and unconventional shapes. For now, it’s best to keep things clear and straightforward while you’re learning.

Step Two: Choose the Perfect Workspace

Before you start, make sure you notice how long and wide your puzzle is going to be when it’s finished. That will help you choose the right workspace with plenty of room to get organized. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of room on the table for your puzzle and all of your pieces, so don’t skip this step.

We recommend using a dining room table, but there are also great puzzle tables you can invest in that make it easy to transport your puzzle while you’re working on it.

Jigsaw puzzle strategy: A Puzzle board in a living room
Bits and Pieces Puzzle Board

Step Three: Sort Your Pieces

The number one reason new puzzlers get impatient with puzzling is that they don’t have the right organizational system in place. You will cost yourself a ton of time if you just pull puzzle pieces straight out of the box and try to fit them together.

Instead, spread your pieces on your workstation and flip them all right side up. Then, go through them one by one and separate the pieces with a straight edge. These will make up the border of your puzzle.

Next, go to your pile of non-edge pieces and separate them by color. We recommend using stackable puzzle sorters to keep each color organized. 

This initial organization does take time, but it’s worth it to make the puzzling process smoother and more fun. If you are putting together a puzzle with young kids, it’s a great way to teach them about shapes and colors.

Step Four: Put the Border Together First

Now that you have your pieces organized, you can get to work. We always recommend starting with the border because it gives you a frame to work within. It also helps you visualize your puzzle from the very beginning, which makes it easier to fill in the rest of the interior portion.

Jigsaw puzzle strategy: Puzzle with the border put together and other pieces sorted by color

Step Five: Put Together the Rest of the Puzzle in Sections

The quickest way to get overwhelmed by a puzzle is to randomly pull out pieces to try to fit into your border. Instead, work in puzzle sections outside of your border and then connect it later. 

This is where separating your pieces by color comes in handy. If you are working on a picture of a bluebird, you can go to your blue pieces and start working on the body of the bird. Once the body is done, you can move on to the other sections, like the background of the puzzle. It won’t be long until you can see how they all fit together to form the whole picture.

Jigsaw puzzle strategy: partially put together puzzle of different places in Paris

You can use a puzzle scoop to easily move around sections without worrying about them falling apart. Keep working in sections until the whole puzzle comes together, and then voila! You are now a puzzle master.

Puzzle Tips for Beginners to Avoid Giving Up

When you’re brand new to doing puzzles, it’s understandable to get frustrated with the process, but we think you should stick with it.

Even though it requires some patience, in our biased opinion, we think it’s a way better way to engage your brain than playing a game on your phone or mindlessly scrolling the internet. Here are some tips to avoid beginner puzzlers burnout:

  1. Take all the time you need. Don’t rush yourself with your first big puzzle. If all you do on the first session is organize your pieces, that’s great. Puzzling is not a race. You can keep working on it a little bit at a time until it’s done. 
  2. Set the scene. Puzzling is a great activity to unwind at the end of a long workday. When you are in the zone, your mind has space to wander and decompress. You can help yourself unwind even more by setting up a relaxing space to work on your puzzles. Turn on some music, sip on your favorite beverage, and clear any non-puzzle clutter from your workspace.
  3. Don’t quit when it gets hard. A lot of first-time puzzlers want to give up when they feel frustrated or bored. If you’re hitting a wall with your puzzle, simply move to a new section and come back to the part you were working on later.

Final Thoughts on How to Do a Puzzle

Every pro puzzler has its own process, but these steps will help all beginners get started on the first foot. In no time you’ll be moving on to more challenging puzzles and teaching your peers how to do a puzzle.

If you’re ready to get started with the perfect puzzles for beginners, check out our puzzle rental program here

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