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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Lifehack: solving jigsaw puzzles on whiteboards

Posted by jpluimers on 2020/12/07

I was a bit amazed that “lifehack” “jigsaw puzzle” “whiteboard” – Google Search returned zero meaningful results.

I got at this “lifehack” via two different paths.

The first one had been simmering in my head because my mentally retarded brother has periods where he loves solving jigsaw puzzles, and periods he does not.

A while ago, he (and being his custodians: we too) had a few rough years that took us a while to help alleviate. There were a lot of symptoms, like anxiety, mixing fantasy and real life, much shortened attention span, mix-ups of both short-term and long-term memory, and a lot more. His life structure was falling apart, which resulted in a lot of puzzles to be started and abandoned shortly after.

It put a lot of pressure on us, which meant my idea of trying to “store” his unfinished puzzles somewhere never took form.

The second one came when towards the end of that period, he got back into a jigsaw puzzle solving period. But this time, he could retain solving focus for a few days in a row.

I tweeted about that in Dutch, showing my amazement. But he was still not back his former level of solving, nor level of understanding.

So close to the Christmas days, he got himself a duo-jigsaw puzzle: two 1000 pieces puzzles in one box. Not being aware of the consequences, he opened both plastic bags and put them in the box.

Back in the days (almost a “Once upon a time…“) quality puzzles had pieces with smooth backs, usually printed in one colour per puzzles. Those times are over, we live in a mass production world, where every penny – or less – is shaved off in a drip-feed method like way, meaning the backs are just roughened cardboard all in one colour.

So we needed to find a way to solve two puzzles at the same time, including a place to store them when he was not staying with us.

He had been using puzzle mats, which all have drawbacks, some of which are in the video below, including:

  • pieces get damaged
  • sticking mat material sticks dust even better than puzzle pieces
  • mats usually come folded and take ages for the fold to disappear
  • inflatable tubes deflate over time because their plastic is porus
  • elastic straps are too cheap for their elasticity to last
  • cannot be used on flat areas smaller than the mat

Basically I needed portable large flat areas with slightly raised edges.

While showering – always a great time to get ideas – it occurred to me: magnetic whiteboards are flat, had raised edges, relatively sturdy, portable, thin, easy to store (because stackable).

Being magnetic makes it easy to stick a cotton cloth (say a large bed pillow case) to top or bottom so they would not scratch the underlying table, or to protect the puzzle from dust.

I choose a 90×60 cm whiteboard, which does not deliver to The Netherlands, but Amazon might deliver it to yours:

So I got a set of these: [WayBack] | Whiteboard Magneetbord 60x90cm which was EUR 27 back then, but immediately rose to EUR 28+ after buying (:

Related tweets

The last tweet is my brother after having spent like 40 hours on this 750 piece Ravensburger “bergbauernhof” puzzle over a couple of months, now spent 2 days in a row puzzling and making way more progress than the first 25+ hours. He was proud, and we were too, as this was the first time in about 2 years he could focus on such things for such a long time in a row.

The first tweet is on him getting a Jan van Haasteren 19083 set of two 1000 piece puzzles without him realising there are two:

Tweets (partly in Dutch)


Zeebanket (Seafood supper)

Taartentoernooi (Clash of the bakers)

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