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How to Make a Jigsaw Puzzle

Backing, Jigsaw Puzzles, Parker Brothers

Jigsaw puzzles have a rich history in the world. They started out being invented in the mid 1700’s by European mapmakers. From there, they have been manufactured and sold by several American companies such as Parker Brothers, Springbok, Par, Strauss, Stave, and many more.

Mapmakers made the earliest jigsaw puzzles by gluing maps onto sheets of wood. The sheets were then cut apart into individual pieces. You can make your own jigsaw puzzle by following the same basic method.

The first step is to find a map, photograph, or picture that is at least eighteen inches square. Pictures from magazines and calendars don’t work well because the paper is too thin. Photographs probably work the best. The photo paper backing is thick and durable. Plus, if you use a photograph, your subject possibilities are endless. You can use a family picture, for example, or you can snap a picture of anything that interests you and use that for your jigsaw puzzle.

The second step is to choose the type of backing you want to use. You can use a heavy cardboard backing, foam, or a thin sheet of wood. Foam can be difficult to work with, so cardboard or wood is your best bet.

Next, the third step in making your jigsaw puzzle is to mount the picture you chose onto the backing. You can use white glue or mounting spray. Both products are readily available at your local craft or hobby store.

Lay the map, photograph, or picture flat out onto the backing. Then, start at a corner and carefully use white glue to adhere it to the backing. Don’t use too much glue or it will ooze out from underneath the picture. If you use mounting spray, read and follow the manufacturer’s directions in order to achieve the best results. Whether you use white glue or mounting spray, you’ll have to make sure there are no air bubbles in between the picture and the backing.

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Once you have finished the mounting step, you’ll need to carefully place a sheet of smooth wood or cardboard over your picture. Then, carefully place heavy weights, such as books, onto the wood or cardboard. Allow the glue or mounting spray to dry thoroughly before you proceed onto the next step.

Note: It’s not necessary, but you can also choose to apply a glossy or matte sealer to the picture after the glue or mounting spray has dried. You can find a good-quality sealer at your local craft or hobby store. It will help protect the finish of your map, photograph, or picture from scratches, dirt, et cetera.

Step five is the fun part! Now, it’s time to cut your jigsaw puzzle apart into irregularly-shaped, interlocking pieces. A foam backed puzzle can be cut apart by using a sharp utility knife. A thin cardboard backing can be cut apart the same way. Heavy cardboard and a thin sheet of wood needs to be cut by using a scroll saw that has a sharp, thin blade.

As you move your jigsaw puzzle around on the scroll saw, be careful not to push the wood through too quickly. Cut the pieces slowly and carefully. This way, the picture will be less likely to have jagged edges.

Also be careful not to make your puzzle pieces so they have tiny ends or thin points that stick out. Pieces like this are hard to put together and the tiny ends and points tend to break off easily.

If you’re skilled with a scroll saw, you can also cut some of the puzzle pieces into animals, objects, common shapes, et cetera.

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The final step, after you have cut your jigsaw puzzle apart, is to check the pieces to make sure they fit together properly.