Assess the Damage and Stabilize the Puzzle

Assemble puzzle.

Save all tiny fragments of wood, picture paper

  • Document with notes and “before” photo
  • Assess damage.
    • examine pieces closely for loose paper and delamination
    • run your hand across the puzzle. Any piece that is higher than the rest is probably starting to delaminate.

Prepare Plywood with 90 pound weight hot press watercolor paper

  • Bond watercolor paper to wood using one of two methods:
    • Spray adhesive such as 3M Super 77 on both the wood and the paper. Put together and dry under weight. Or:
    • Sandwich release paper, wood, tissue adhesive, watercolor paper, and release paper and heat in dry mount press. Cool under weight.
  • Mark each piece with the thickness.

Reattach broken off knob stubs and loose fragments of wood and paper using tweezers.

  • Match knob stubs and fragments to proper location on puzzle surface and back.
  • Use Elmer’s carpenter glue to reglue knob stubs and wood fragments.
  • Use Elmer’s multi-purpose glue to reglue fragments of paper, loose paper.

Repair Delamination (“Re-laminate”) Plywood Layers

  • Partially Delaminated pieces:
    • Use X-acto knife to pry layers apart if possible, then repair as completely delaminated below.
    • If the plies won’t come apart, then use X-acto knife to insert glue into the crack and dry under pressure in vise as below.
  • Completely Delaminated pieces:
    • Scrape off old glue with razor blade
    • Always work on bottom ply up to paper top to avoid handling the paper layer any more than necessary. The thickest layer is almost always the middle ply.
    • Apply Elmer’s Wood Glue to small paint brush and coat sides of both pieces of wood which are to go together.
    • Hold layers together square against table on various sides. Continue with next layer(s).
    • Use Elmer’s Glue-All to attach paper layer to top ply.
  • Carefully insert reglued pieces (partially and wholly) between release paper, which is between 2 pieces of wood; then place into vise and tighten. While handling reglued piece, constantly check to see if ply layers have “shifted”; if so immediately pull apart, reglue and insert into vise.
  • Leave overnight; remove next day and use Dremel drill to grind off any excess glue and any ply below the picture level extending beyond the picture resulting from slippage or expansion. In other words, looking straight down at the piece, no ply must extend beyond the top layer of ply and picture.
  • Ply layer missing substantially or entirely.
    • Use 1/16” plywood (or thinner if available) and glue onto puzzle piece following steps above.
    • Next day, adjust your scroll saw table so that blade slants toward center of piece. Carefully cut off excess ply. Check for fit. Be sure to readjust your scroll saw table so that blade is returned to perpendicular.
    • Sand back of “relaminated” piece down to puzzle level.

Glue broken pieces together with Elmer’s Wood glue.

  • To insure original shape, insert reglued piece into puzzle using bits of release paper on each side of repair area.
  • If a small piece of ply at top or bottom of break is missing, use Elmer’ Wood glue and Plastic Wood in missing area and grind off excess with Dremel tool after it dries. 3. Touch up break with watercolor pencils.