How To Frame a Puzzle

How To Frame a Puzzle

If you’re reading this article, you probably just finished a grueling puzzle. You might be one of those who can’t bear to break up their puzzles and put them back in the box after spending hours finishing them. Don’t worry; we got you!

From buying your puzzle to hanging the art piece on your wall, this article will be your guide on how to frame a puzzle.

How to frame a puzzle

To frame a puzzle, you need to make sure that your puzzle is entirely flat. This can be accomplished by running a rolling pin through it. Using puzzle glue or tape, secure the pieces in place. Next, you need to measure the dimension of the puzzle, including its thickness. Finally, look for a frame that your puzzle will fit in, slide it inside the frame, and finally, hang it on your wall as décor.

How do I start working on a puzzle?

First, clear out sufficient space that will act as your work area. A comfortably wide space would be best, so you have enough room for the pieces and the completed puzzle itself. 

Before working on your puzzle, a handy tip would be to have a cover between your puzzle and the surface extending a few inches beyond the finished puzzle’s size. Wax paper and parchment paper are two covers that experienced puzzle-solvers highly suggest.

The two materials will ensure that your puzzle doesn’t stick to the surface or to the cover itself during the gluing process. It will also allow you to flip the puzzle with ease when you decide to use the tape method for framing, which will be discussed later.

You can also use plastic covers and poster boards, which you can easily find in local bookstores.

Another pro tip would be to avoid using newspapers as a cover unless there is no other material available. This is because newspapers are far more likely to stick to the puzzle or to the surface, potentially endangering your project.

If you’re reading this with your puzzle already completed, and it’s just lying on a surface without cover, don’t panic. Although this can be a sticky situation, there are still ways to safely sandwich a cover underneath. 

You can first try to slide the cover underneath while lifting the puzzle very slightly and gently. If this doesn’t work, you can then try to find another surface that can accommodate your fragile puzzle — such as a piece of cardboard — temporarily slide the puzzle onto it, and place down a cover on the original surface. If you want, you can ignore the last step so that the cardboard you used as a temporary surface can be your new surface.

After putting the puzzle together, brush away any lint and dirt from its surface and get it as flat as you can. Most guides will tell you to use a rolling pin, and for a good reason. You may be thinking, “It’s just as simple as pressing a stray piece back down, right? Why the need for a rolling pin?” And yes, pressing is a way to make your puzzle flat, but it often causes previously flat adjacent pieces to stick out. 

With the help of a rolling pin, you can break this annoying cycle since it can flatten a wider area, and it flattens evenly. Ensure that your pieced puzzle is flat and that no piece sticks out like a sore thumb. Do not skip this step, or else you might end up with a bumpy and distorted display.

If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can also use a can or even a heavy book, preferably with glossy covers or wrapped in a plastic cover so that it glides more smoothly on the puzzle’s surface.

Should I glue my puzzle together before I frame it?

After making your puzzle as completely flat as you can, it’s time to start gluing it together with an adhesive of your choice. Like every other craft project, make sure that you don’t add too much glue because it can add too much moisture to the pieces, leading to swelling, peeling, and wrinkling.

To help spread the glue evenly onto the surface and crevices of your jigsaw puzzle, you can use a silicone squeegee. Business cards, expired credit cards, and anything with a hard, straight edge can also be used if you don’t have a squeegee on hand. 

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to use brushes, the ones with bristles may leave unwanted stroke marks. Instead, you can use a foam brush that will work better, is often used in the crafting community, and won’t leave visible brush strokes on your art.

What glue should I use for my puzzle?

As for what glue to use, there are a lot of options, but definitely make sure that you use the ones with low water content. For long-term preservation, you’ll also want to avoid adhesives known for being acidic, as they can cause yellowing on your puzzle.

Some glues also come in two finishes, matte or glossy. Others have a faster drying time and may even provide you with an applicator attached to the bottle’s cap to help with coating glue on your puzzle.

Some puzzle manufacturers even make their own adhesives for their products. If you purchase a puzzle from one that makes their own glue, you should consider purchasing the adhesive they sell, as they likely have tested it on their own goods. Lastly, you can also use a spray adhesive if that’s your style.

Let the glue dry completely before moving on to the next step. Give the puzzle plenty of time to dry before trying to move it. If, while drying, you notice that the edges of your puzzle are starting to curl — don’t panic! It’s not a rare occurrence, and there are tried and tested ways to fix this.

Do you glue the front or back of a puzzle?

While gluing one side of your puzzle will hold the pieces together just fine, gluing both sides is always better as this will provide optimum stability to the entire puzzle and prevent pieces from falling off.

How do I deal with curls on a puzzle?

Don’t touch the puzzle if the glue is still wet; let the front side completely dry first. Once the glue has dried, delicately flip the puzzle over and spread glue to the backside, similar to how you did the front. Apply it across the whole puzzle, particularly on the areas where the puzzle was starting to curl. When the glue fully dries, it should be flattened out again.

If you are not satisfied with the current integrity of your puzzle, you can always coat it in as many layers of glue as you like. Just keep in mind that it will affect the overall thickness of the puzzle, which plays a role in picking a frame.

How do I frame a puzzle if I don’t want to use glue?

But what if you don’t want to use glue? Maybe you hate how sticky and icky the process can be, or you just don’t want to unnecessarily add a finishing layer to your puzzle — whatever your reason is, you don’t have to worry because you can still frame your puzzle without glue.

This method involves using either of two adhesives that work quite similarly: Puzzle Presto’s Peel and Stick Puzzle Saver or a roll of your preferred tape— the choice is entirely up to you. Note that some tapes are acidic and will degrade your puzzle over time while causing yellowing. The Puzzle Saver may be a better option for archival purposes since it’s specially formulated for puzzles.

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Since the adhesive is obviously going to the backside of your puzzle, start by flipping your puzzle over carefully. Assuming you have a cover below your puzzle already, simply place a piece of cardboard or poster board on top of it. If your puzzle’s currently lying on the ground, place a hard enough material on both faces of the puzzle. 

Now, flip the puzzle over and remove the piece of board currently on top of the puzzle’s backside. If you want more security before flipping your puzzle over, you can use clips to hold the puzzle in place. You can also ask for your friend’s or family member’s help if your puzzle is on the larger side.

Next, take your Puzzle Saver (or tape) and thoroughly apply it to the back of your puzzle. If you’re using tape, at least make sure that it’s thick, unless you have the patience required to use thin strips of scotch tape to cover every part of the puzzle. Slightly overlapping the strips is also a good idea as it makes the structure more secure and stable.

How do I frame my puzzle?

After making sure that your puzzle won’t suddenly fall apart, you’re finally near the end of your puzzle-framing journey! If you used the glue method, you might want to add additional support before framing. For this, you can use wax paper, foam board, or even the backing board that comes with frames. 

To begin, cut your mounting material to a slightly smaller size than your puzzle. You don’t want it to be visible, but you do want all of the pieces to be connected to it. To mount the puzzle, it will need to be on its back. Next, apply adhesive to the back of the puzzle and carefully place the mount on top of it, ensuring that it is centered.

It’s recommended that you weigh down the mount using heavy objects while it dries to make sure that it’s glued together compactly and evenly.

If you used tape or the Puzzle Saver, it isn’t really necessary to back it with another material since the tape strips, or peels, themselves act as the mounting. 

How do I choose a frame for my puzzle?

At last, it’s time to find the right frame for your glorious puzzle art! Start by taking the length, width, and thickness of your piece. These dimensions seem basic, but they are crucial for picking the right frame for your puzzle. Remember that you can’t always trust the measurements found on the box since they may be off by a quarter of an inch or more.

Keep in mind that puzzles are thicker compared to a regular photo or print. Thus, some pre-made frames might not work, especially if you used foam as your backing. If this is the case, a shadow box frame is your best bet as it can accommodate considerably more depth.

If you’re going to the trouble of having your puzzle framed, you might as well make sure it won’t be damaged by humidity or the sun. Your puzzle can be protected by using a frame with UV protective glass that keeps moisture and potentially damaging radiation out. The process of transferring your puzzle into your frame shouldn’t be too different from that of a standard poster now.

Framing your puzzle is quite a long project. You have to consider a lot of things to make sure that your puzzle is well-preserved. But once you’ve found the perfect frame for your art and placed it inside the frame, you’re ready to do whatever you want with it!

Maybe find a spot on the wall for it, hang it up, and now you can admire the art piece that you have painstakingly made and framed!

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