There is nothing better on a rainy day than diving deep into the bedroom wardrobe and pulling out your favorite jigsaw puzzle. Well, at least for me there isn’t. Family fun board games and jigsaws have seen somewhat of a renaissance in recent times, something I can definitely get behind.
There is just something so simple, relaxing and pure about them. It is not often we get to switch off our screens anymore, and jigsaws provide the perfect excuse. Yet if you are not as avid a maker of jigsaws like I am, then what on earth do you build them on?
It is not very likely that you have a giant puzzle board laying around the house, is it? Well, not to fear, we have some ingenious ideas for you.
What can I use for a puzzle board?
Basically, you can use just about anything that is large enough and flat enough for you to put the jigsaw pieces on without them being disturbed. This means dining tables and work surfaces such as desks are great. The downside is that you can no longer use the surface for anything else. A better option is to make your own with a little bit of DIY action.
Some fantastic alternatives to puzzle boards are plexiglass, large cardboard boxes, wood paneling plywood, large baking trays, and Teflon, amongst many more. All these options will work, but nothing can really beat the real thing.
Puzzle board – the alternatives
If I was to wager a bet, I would say that not many of you have a puzzle board at home. Yet, you do have a lot of the raw materials to make one. Here are some of the best ways to ‘do it yourself’ so you can build jigsaws to your heart’s content.
Cardboard boxes – We all shop online and when we do, the product comes in a nice cardboard box. This box can be deconstructed, taped and even painted to look nice. As long as it is big enough, it will make a great alternative to a real puzzle board.
If you don’t have any cardboard boxes in the house, then you can ask at your local store, they often have many lying around and would be happy to give you some I am sure.
Wood – If you are already into a little bit of home decoration and building then chances are you have some wood lying around the shed or garage.
This wood can be sanded and glued together to make a rather lovely playing surface for you and your jigsaw obsession. A word of caution though, make sure it is varnished if possible, so you don’t get lots of splinters in your hands.
Plexiglass – This material is great to use as a puzzle board alternative because it is lightweight yet sturdy, and its surface is already nice and smooth and flat.
A piece can be picked up at your local DIY store for fairly cheap and will be good to see straight away without any alterations.
Baking trays – If you are out of luck and can’t source any of the above materials then there is always the option of the humble baking tray.
It may sound crazy, but it works just fine, as long as the puzzle you are building is not too big of course. Make sure the tray is nice, clean and dry before you use it.
Desks and dining tables – You don’t always have to use a dedicated puzzle board to start puzzling. If you are ok with a surface being out of action for a while until you complete the build then dining tables and desks are a great ready-made option.
They are easy to sit at and their surfaces are almost always smooth and big enough.
What is a puzzle board?
A puzzle board is basically a store away device for constructing jigsaw puzzles on. It often has a large central area where the building happens and a storage area for you to keep the puzzle pieces safe so you don’t lose them.
They are used so that items in the home are not taken up by puzzles and also as a way to make sure the puzzle pieces are not lost. Many have a zip or latch so that they can be folded away neatly and a border around the edge to stop pieces dripping on the floor.
What is a puzzle board made from?
Puzzle boards are generally made from a hard and smooth material such as wood or cardboard. This provides the perfect playing surface to build the puzzle on. They are often covered in a rich felt or leather material so that the pieces do not slide around.
The border around the edge is made from plastic or wood. There are some variants to this design such as the puzzle mat made from felt and puzzle carry cases.
Are jigsaw puzzles good for your brain?
It is widely believed that building jigsaw puzzles is good for the brain. Solving problems of this type can aid in reinforcing old connections in our brains but also in making new ones.
They are said to aid short term memory because you are training your brain to remember images and colors. Actively using your brain in this way also improves reaction and thinking time. In addition to all this, building jigsaws is often done with family and friends.
This social interaction is a huge benefit to the self. Human contact builds positivity, mental wellness and a general sense of wellbeing.
Are alternative puzzle boards better than the real thing?
No. Although the alternatives mentioned here are more than capable of doing the job, they are not as good as the real thing. A dedicated puzzle board or puzzle table is better because it is purpose-built for the job.
It will feature longer-lasting materials, non-slip felt or leather surface, and have raised edges so you don’t lose your pieces. Maybe it might even have a zip pocket and a carry handle to take it with you on holiday or to a friend’s house.