Chances are if you have been collecting old wood puzzles, you have inevitably run across puzzles that are missing pieces, broken knobs or, as we have seen on more than one occasion, pieces that look like a family pet had managed to get ahold and proceed to tear up. It is especially disheartening when you know that the puzzle was complete and sometime between the last you did it a piece went missing. What can be done about this?
Replacement and repair of pieces is a real art unto itself. To replace lost pieces not only do you have to have exceptional wood puzzle cutting skills, you also need to have a good artistic touch as well. Since there are so many different manufacturers of old puzzles, it is important that wood matches. Not all puzzles have the same thickness, for instance, so you don’t want your new piece to be a different height than the rest of the puzzle. There are a number of factors that can determine the quality of a replacement piece. One of the more important is obviously to make sure it fits, and fits well. Not only will it be difficult to assemble if it doesn’t fit, but there is the possibility that it could impact and damage surrounding pieces if you have to “jam” it in to fit.
Finally, one cannot forget the true art of matching the piece to the image. Not only do you have to match the colors as close as possible, but essentially draw the missing part of the image. For some pieces, say a solid color, while not easy, it’s nothing compared trying to get a piece with an elaborate pattern, to match correctly.
Surprisingly, master puzzle repairers say that replacing pieces is usually easier than repairing pieces. When you think about it, it makes sense. If you have a piece with a knob or other damage to get it to exactly match and line up with the older remaining part could be a real challenge! We have found that it is sometimes make more sense to replace a whole piece than try and salvage the original piece. Repairing and replacing pieces really is an art form unto itself and requires special training.