The Joy of Jigsaws

Choosing a jigsaw and completing it in comfort
If you are new to jigsaws, you may be mildly perplexed at the wide range of puzzles available, from the different manufacturers to the range of piece numbers and much more besides. You may also be unaware that there are various accessories and improvised props you can use to ensure you can indulge your new hobby in comfort.

We have compiled a simple guide to choosing a jigsaw and included some notes to ensure you experience the full joy of jigsaws.

  • Easier puzzles have plenty of colour and shade variation and often have a large distinctive focal point such as a vehicle. Areas of the same colour such as the sky are minimal, or there are clues such as clouds, birds and aircraft to make piece sorting and assembly easier.
  • Harder puzzles have much more fine detail, muted colours and subtle shade variations. They may have larger areas of cloudless sky and greenery with fewer clues and may lack an obvious focal point.
  • To find jigsaws matching your interests check Jigsaws by Theme

Piece Counts:

Pieces: 500 (standard)
Dimensions: H34 x W48 cm completed (approx.)
Level: The ideal starting point for most adults.

Pieces: 636
Dimensions: H32 x W69 cm completed (approx.)
Level: A little more challenging than a standard 500 puzzle and a good stepping stone to a 1000 piece puzzle. Helpful for people with limited reach. Great for panoramic scenery and an ideal size for most coffee tables.

Pieces: 1000
Dimensions: H49 x W68 cm completed (approx.)
Level: A significant challenge compared to a standard 500 or 636 puzzle. Organising your assembly space and utilising some sorting trays to begin with pays dividends later.

Pieces 24 & 40 XXL – Piecing Together collection
Dimensions: H21 x W29 cm completed (approx.)
Level: Designed by Gibsons in association with Age UK for those living with visual impairments, limited fine motor skills or cognitive impairment including Dementia. The images evoke memories and spark conversations. The pieces are particularly sturdy and easy to handle and the completed jigsaw fits in the box.

Pieces: 100 XXL
Dimensions: H34 x W48 cm (approx.) – same as standard 500
Level: The pieces are five times larger than those in a standard 500 piece puzzle making it easier for people with site or handling difficulties. Designed for adults but accessible for all.

Pieces: 250 XL
Dimensions: H34 x W48 cm (approx.) – same as standard 500
Level: The pieces are double the size of those in a standard 500 piece puzzle making it easier for people with site or handling difficulties. Designed for adults but accessible for all.

Pieces: 500 XL
Dimensions: H49 x W68 cm (approx.) – same as 1000
Level: The pieces are double the size of those in a standard 500 piece puzzle making it easier for people with site or handling difficulties. Designed for adults but accessible for all.

Practical tips:

Be warned, jigsaws are addictive. Once you’re underway you will find it hard to be separated from your puzzle until it is complete.

Jigsaw Boards:
Generally, puzzles with larger piece counts (500+) are not completed in a single sitting so it’s good practice to assemble your puzzle on a dedicated board or puzzle roll with a non-slip surface rather than directly on a table top. This makes it portable and allows you to slide it under the bed or sofa until you are ready for your next session.

Sorting Trays:
Puzzle piece sorting trays are ideal for segregating edge pieces and other distinct pieces from the same area of the puzzle. Larger shallow trays allow the pieces to be spread out further making pieces easier to find. It’s also a good idea to roll your sleeves up to avoid unwittingly scooping pieces up into your clothing.

Comfort:
Be sure to find a comfortable seated or standing position and be aware of your posture to avoid strain. Natural daylight (though not bright sunshine) is much better than artificial light for avoiding eye strain so arrange your jigsaw station near a window if possible. For larger puzzles (1000) it’s helpful to raise the top of the board with an easel or improvised prop so that it is tilted towards you (perhaps 20-30 degrees). This reduces glare and limits stretching.