Our daughter has a large-format Disney puzzle. Some of the pieces have warped slightly, such that it is difficult to put the puzzle together. How can we "re-flatten" the warped pieces?

So far we've tried placing heavy books on top for 4 hours.

  • 2
    Hello and welcome to the site! Please don't take this personal, but I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about parenting.
    – Stephie
    Mar 5 '15 at 21:48
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    toy tag description: "Questions related to infant, toddler, young children, pre-teen, and teen toys." --parenting.stackexchange.com/tags/toys/info My daughter is a young child. This is a question about her toy. Mar 5 '15 at 21:50
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    Well, my vote doesn't close any question, no offense intended.
    – Stephie
    Mar 5 '15 at 21:52
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    No offense taken! Mar 5 '15 at 21:57
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    I asked a question about this post and topicality on meta.
    – Joe
    Mar 5 '15 at 22:57

This is quoting from http://www.ehow.com/how_10043017_flatten-warped-puzzle.html

  1. Set the warped puzzle on a tabletop or an area on the floor where it will not be disturbed.
  2. Press the puzzle pieces together so they fit well if they are loose or jutting up, due to warping.
  3. Lie a large piece of plywood on top of the puzzle if you have one. If not, spread an old tablecloth or sheet over the puzzle to protect it from the heavy objects, particularly if you are going to frame it once the warped areas are flat.
  4. Set heavy objects, such as bricks, concrete blocks, heavy books or other weights on top, to press the puzzle down flat. Place the weights on the corners, in the center, or anywhere else the puzzles is warped.
  5. Wait at least 24 hours before removing the weights. The puzzle should be flat once you remove the weights; if not, replace the weights and leave them on the puzzle another couple of days. Frame the puzzle or take it apart, and store the flat pieces in the puzzle box. This ensures it lies flat the next time you attempt the puzzle.

hope this helps, even if its considered off topic.

  • Hmm...so perhaps 4 hours wasn't long enough. Mar 5 '15 at 23:47
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    Muriel, that's a good answer, but can you post the details (at least a short summary) here? We don't like to just have links as answers alone since they can die over time. Thanks!
    – Joe
    Mar 6 '15 at 0:49
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    I agree, @Joe, so I went and pasted it into the answer. I hope that's OK with you, Muriel.
    – sbi
    Mar 6 '15 at 9:40

Puzzles are typically made of a cardboard-like material that is prone to warping due to the differences in moisture on one side of the puzzle piece compared to the other, just like wood warps. The printing on one side leads to an imbalance in moisture: The surface is less porous, so it absorbs less moisture, such as that from humidity. This is why your pieces have cupped upwards/are concave on the printed side.

We can also look to techniques for addressing warped wood when attempting to fix you jigsaw puzzle! Since drawing out moisture with heat on the concave side is probably not a good idea, and misting the printing side with water isn't likely to be effective, it seems that we'll have to address the total moisture of the pieces rather than the individual sides!

I would continue to use your weighted press method, but I suggest adding some sort of drying agent, such as a layer of absorbent paper towels.

This still may not work on its own, because the jigsaw puzzle might not currently have much in the way of moisture. Instead, the multi-layered pieces have dried into rigid shapes that were caused by uneven moisture content. In order to address this we will have to add some moisture back to the system, in order to soften up the cellulose.

Now, we're back to misting the puzzle with water, but on both sides. Not too much, or the layers may split as the moisture reaches them at different times. Once the pieces are damp enough to be a little more flexible, throw them back in your homemade press with the paper towels. Now, the press will be altering their structure, with the aide of moisture, instead of just compressing it like a spring.

You may be able to take preventative measures on future puzzles (or this same one, if it gets flattened), by applying a non-toxic sealant to the blank side (use food-grade sealant if the puzzle will be around children likely to put the pieces in their mouth).

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