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ARTICLE

Dealing With a Lost Puzzle Piece(s)



No matter how careful and attentive I am sometimes a piece(s) of a puzzle can still go missing and when this happens it can be that if I want to be able to play with that puzzle again the part(s) that went missing will need replacing first. The missing part(s) I am referring to here are separable/detachable ones or individual parts of a puzzle that might not even connect to anything else and I am not referring to broken-off piece(s). The puzzle may function without the missing piece(s) and I am able to complete it but might be a far less enjoyable and rewarding experience as a result. If I want to showcase and put on display the puzzle then it may not be as displayable and attractive to look at with parts of it missing and this is another reason to try to get the missing part(s) replaced. It is obviously better to try my best to ensure a piece or pieces don't get lost and disappear in the first place or when pieces do go missing I do my very best to find and retrieve them as replacing missing puzzle parts could be expensive and time-consuming. The puzzles attributes will determine how replaceable the parts of it are with these attributes being how old it is, if it is still in production and being sold, how popular it is, how many there are of it in existence, what material it is made of, the size of it, how easy it is to lose the pieces, what type of challenge it is and how unique it is. What the piece is will clearly to determine how difficult it is to replace as some parts can be more replaceable than others, for example, a board game the dice should be easy to replace as long as it is a standard six-sided one but a piece that specifically belongs to a certain board game and no other could be and will likely be more tricky to replace. Of course, a piece that goes missing can always show up months later which can be very annoying if I have already searched for and bought the replacement piece so it may be best to wait a few weeks or months in case this happens and if it doesn't show up then look to replace it.


I will first check to see if I can find and buy the piece that is missing online as this will be the most convenient and hassle-free place for me to look as I can do this from my home or whilst I am on the move by using my phone and probably the most likely place I will be able to find it. It will be simply a case of me typing the name of the specific piece into a search engine and going through the results in the shopping section of the search engine and the number of results will show how replaceable the part is. If no results come up then I could try a different search by typing in the name of the puzzle and then add the term 'replacement parts' to the search query and hopefully, this will deliver results. It might be that I have to buy the parts second hand as they could be a lot cheaper than brand new or there may not be an option to buy the part I want new. I would prefer a brand new part but sometimes second-hand parts can be practically brand new as they have never been or barely used but on the other hand if they have been used they might be marked or on the verge of breaking. Therefore I will have to be careful if I decide to buy second hand especially if it is expensive by checking the image and the description of the second-hand part I want before I buy and if I can contact the seller before I buy to ask about the condition. Whether the part(s) I need is new or secondhand I will need to consider the cost I am willing to pay before purchasing as it may be prudent and more cost-effective to buy the entire puzzle the part belongs to in certain instances.


Checking the producer of the puzzle's website to see if they do replacement parts is another place I would look and the website should be easy to find as I can check if it is on the packaging of the puzzle if I still have it or just type the name of the company into a search engine. If there is nowhere on the website that states they do replacement parts I could try to look for contact details on the site and contact the producer of the puzzle via either email, phone or in writing and ask if it would be possible for them to replace the part that is missing. If my puzzle, that has a piece(s) missing, is still in production then the chances are higher but not definite that I will be able to get or find a replacement part through the producer of it, especially for certain types such as a jigsaw or boardgame as for these types it is common for pieces to go missing. Puzzles that have lots of separate or separable pieces are likely going to be high risk for having a piece(s) go missing and therefore it is more likely there is going to be a quite high demand for their replacement parts which means they could be easier to get a hold of. I have noticed it is often still possible to get replacement parts from the producer even for an older puzzle as long as it is still in production and occasionally even when it is not in production anymore. However, it can sometimes be, especially with very old ones, that the puzzle is no longer in production or the producer of it is no longer in business and therefore getting replacement parts from the producer is not going to be an option. I know from past experience that it can be that the producer of the puzzle will only offer certain parts of a puzzle for replacement and not others when I have gone to their website looking for a replacement part and also it can often be they will only offer to replace an individual part and not a full set of parts, for example, they won't replace a full deck of cards but just an individual card. Checking the website of the company behind the puzzle may be the first port of call for certain puzzles when looking for a replacement piece such as when looking for a jigsaw piece replacement as it is unlikely I will be able to obtain anywhere else individual jigsaw pieces. Some producers of puzzles may not offer to replace parts at all or simply not have the part I am looking for available at the time I am requesting it and therefore I will have to be patient and check back later. or get them to notify me when it is available. It might be that going to the website of the producer of the puzzle and getting the replacement part there that I am able to get it for free and just have to pay post and packaging which may work out cheaper than buying the part, if I am even able to, elsewhere.


It might be possible that I can have my missing piece recreated when I can't obtain the real or actual piece and I have known this to be done with jigsaws and wooden puzzles. This way of replacing a missing piece might be impossible however if I don't actually have the piece at hand or a picture of it to be able to make an exact replica both in look and dimensions but I may be able to borrow the missing piece off somebody else who does have it in order to produce a replica or the missing piece may have a duplicate that is also part of the puzzle that I could use or if not I could try to find a picture of the piece and/or dimension details online. I have seen there is a website (easily found through a search engine) that offers to recreate for a price any 2D jigsaw piece that is either cardboard or wooden and they just require a picture of the jigsaw plus the pieces that surround the missing piece. I could try to get somebody who is skilled or who is a professional in metal/woodwork or someone who makes wooden/metal puzzles either professionally or as a hobby to recreate the piece when this missing piece is made of the material wood/metal. I could do this by either searching online or by enquiring around in my local area in-person for a person or maybe even better a store/business who could do this as they may be the only ones who have the technology to do the task. The business/store that can do this task could be one that produces metal or wood products/pieces not related at all to puzzles such as furniture, although a place that makes metal or wooden puzzles would be the first place I look and enquire. Therefore it might be worth it to ask places that produce metal/wooden products/items that are not related to puzzles if it is possible for them and if they would be willing to recreate the missing part when I can't find a place that specifically makes wooden/metal puzzles. If this is worth doing will depend on the price quoted, the time it will take and if they are able to recreate fully the piece as they may not be able to fully replicate the missing piece because of the design complexity, they don't have the material, they don't have the tools/technology to do it or they need the missing piece or its exact dimensions in order to replicate it exactly. For very simple wooden pieces that are basic shapes or simple designs I could try to recreate them myself, it will be just a matter of ensuring I get the dimensions correct and also that I get the matching wood and finish so it doesn't look out of place from the puzzle the part will belong to and doing this myself could be a good way of practising and improving my woodwork skills. I could use a 3D printer service for replacing a missing part that is plastic but if this is worth doing is dependent on the price quoted, the correct/matching type of plastic is available (if am able to ascertain the plastic-type) and if I can make an accurate 3d image of the part to upload that the service can then use to print the part. Creating a 3D image for printing will likely be very tricky for a beginner like me and therefore creating what could be a complex in design puzzle part image will be even more difficult and extremely challenging and will require practice in order to get better at it in order to be able to produce these more complex images but I have seen there are help guides online that can walk me through this and potentially help me with this. Having a piece recreated may not 100% always be identical to the original in terms of look because who recreated it couldn't get exactly the same material or colour/finish but if it is identical in terms of the physical properties(size, weight and dimensions) then I can live with that or even if the physical properties are not 100% the same but it makes the puzzle function then that will be satisfactory for me as well.


Another possibe option for replacing a missing piece could be that a friend or a family member has the same puzzle and has a spare of the piece I need and they may be willing to give it or sell it to me. The friend or family member may even want to get rid of the puzzle altogether by giving it away or selling it and as they are a friend or family member I may be able to haggle the price they want for it down. However, the fact that my friends and family members are not as keen on puzzles as I am and consequently don't possess as many if any means it is unlikely in most cases that they would have the same one which I own that has the missing piece unless possibly the puzzle in question is a family board game. I don't just have to enquire through friends and family members I know for a missing piece replacement but could send a message that I am looking for a puzzle part on a social media website, on a puzzle message board or even place a wanted ad in which I could detail how much I would be willing to pay for it and the condition of the piece I would be willing to accept. Placing a wanted ad could involve a fee and how much this fee is will depend on who it is placed with and possibly how long for but could be worth it if the ad will reach a large number of people and therefore increasing the chances of somebody responding to the ad as places that accept wanted ad will have different sized audiences.


If I can't replace the missing puzzle piece then I may have to get the whole puzzle if that is still an option as it may be a very old puzzle that is no longer in production and being sold and could be very hard to come by. Sometimes two or more separate companies produce the same puzzle challenge for example chess so I might not be able to get that exact same puzzle produced from the same company again that has the missing piece but possibly can get the puzzle just produced from another company. If I can't get the exact same puzzle I could try to find a very similar one and this could be found by putting into a search engine the name of the puzzle plus the term 'puzzles similar to' or by putting into a search engine the name of the puzzle plus 'if you liked this puzzle try this' and hopefully there will be plenty of results to choose from. Getting the whole puzzle may only be worth doing if I hadn't completed the challenge of it yet, I can get it at a reasonable price, it has plenty of replayability, I had really enjoyed playing with it or it has some sort of sentimental value. If I can't find the exact same part to replace the one that is missing then I could try to find a very similar part replacement instead of just trying to replace the whole puzzle and this may mean that the part looks a bit out of place from the rest of the puzzle but the main priority is that the part works with the puzzle and that the puzzle functions correctly again. Some puzzles, particularly board games, have the same or similar parts as each other with these parts essentially performing the same function for each board game such as dice or a player counter which means they could easily be interchanged and the games still function properly it may just ruin the aesthetic as the piece doesn't fit in terms of look. It can sometimes be that the puzzle can be completed or virtually completed without the missing piece but just that it will look odd when finished or incomplete but it was solved and this may be satisfactory enough for me that I don't need to replace the missing piece. Of course, there are parts that can go missing and it will be easy to cope without them and that the overall puzzle is still useable such as if a single or few question cards going missing in a quiz game in which there are hundreds of questions or if a single or few pellets go missing when there are thousands of them when it is a puzzle that uses pellets to conceal hidden items. I could just try to borrow the puzzle that has the missing piece from somebody I know in order to be able to complete it but I may not know anybody who has the one I need or if I do they may not want to lend it to me especially as I have already lost a piece of the one I own or they may not want to lend it for a long period of time as the challenge(s) of it might be one that will take significant time to solve. If it is worth replacing the missing part or the whole puzzle at all must also be considered with factors such as cost and the amount of hassle there will be in getting the replacement but also am I going to realistically play with the puzzle or use it again if I did get a replacement part or the whole puzzle again as I may have completed/solved before the piece went missing.


In summary, when I lose a piece for most puzzles it should be no reason to panic as there are usually a number of ways I could go about getting a replacement but it is, of course, better to avoid losing the piece in the first place to avoid what could be a lengthy search and a possibly costly one to replace it or worst case scenario the piece is impossible to replace.

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