How to Preserve and Frame a Jigsaw Puzzle

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Puzzle glue permanently holds your finished project together.
Puzzle glue permanently holds your finished project together. (Image: Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images)

After all the time you spent finishing that perplexing jigsaw puzzle, sealing and framing it allows you to transform your work into a piece of wall art. Specialty glues designed specifically for puzzles allow you to protect a puzzle of any size and shape. As for framing, the ideal frame for the job depends upon the puzzle itself.

Preparing for Preservation

Carefully slip sheets of wax paper underneath your finished puzzle -- wax paper works better than plastic or newspaper in this case, as it is less likely to stick to the puzzle even if glue gets on the wax paper. Enlist a friend's help, if necessary -- one person slides the wax paper under the puzzle, sliding the wax paper back and forth to get it in position, while the other person helps reposition the puzzle pieces so the puzzle retains its shape and doesn't come apart. Press the pieces down firmly and reshape the puzzle, if necessary, so the edges look as they should. Roll a brayer or rolling pin gently over the top of the puzzle to smooth the pieces down.

Sealing Your Work

While a quality clear-drying craft glue or decoupage medium may be used to preserve your puzzle, a dedicated puzzle glue -- especially one made by the company that manufactured your puzzle -- helps ensure satisfactory results because it's designed specifically for this type of project. If you use a puzzle glue, select a liquid version for the best results; spray-on glues may not provide even coverage, and powdered glues require more preparation. Brush the glue on with a foam brush or artist's brush, or the applicator offered with some brands of puzzle glue. Apply the glue thick enough to seep into the cracks between pieces, but not thick enough to create pools of liquid or to saturate the pieces. Coat the edges of the puzzle as well. Use a plastic gift card or scrap piece of straight cardboard to smooth the glue over the entire top of the puzzle surface. Allow the glue to dry as recommended on the glue bottle -- usually at least two hours. Then carefully slide the wax paper out from beneath the puzzle. If the wax paper sticks, slide a rubber scraper or piece of cardstock between it and the puzzle to separate the two.

Backing Board for Support

No matter what type of frame you use for your puzzle, a sturdy backing board helps keep it intact. Otherwise, gravity may cause some of the pieces to separate a bit if they have room to move, even after you glue the puzzle together. Measure the finished puzzle, or slide a piece of craft paper beneath it and then trace the puzzle on it to get an exact template if the puzzle is not square or rectangular. Cut out the paper template and trace it onto foam core board, hardboard or even a sheet of thick craft paper. While hardboard or wood provide the most sturdy backing board for your puzzle, the thickness also limits the types of frames that will fit the finished piece -- the thinner the backing material, the easier it is to fit the puzzle into a frame.

Framing Your Finished Work

Some puzzle shops sell premade puzzle frames and frame kits designed to fit a few specific puzzle sizes. If your puzzle matches any of the sizes, which may vary by brand, these frames provide the simplest solution for framing. Otherwise, a framing shop or a craft shop with a framing department can frame the puzzle for you. Some companies specialize in making puzzle frames designed to your puzzle's specifications, selling online tools for designing the ideal frame size. Some may offer anti-glare or UV-protected plastic or glass to help protect the puzzle image. If you order online, be sure to read the company's specifications first to determine whether your backing material will fit with their framing. In some cases, a traditional picture or poster frame may fit your puzzle, or may nearly fit, requiring just a decorative mat around the puzzle.

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