Unitasker Wednesday: Puzzle Sorters Puzzling Made EZ

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

While on a recent trip inside Barnes and Noble, reader Megan had reason to stop and pause. It wasn’t a book title that caught her eye, nor was it a glossy magazine cover. On this particular trip, it was a unitasker that tempted her to pull out her camera and snap a picture of the Puzzle Sorters Puzzling Made EZ:

For $17 you can be the proud owner of what she describes as:

… a set of 8 plastic (of course) “sorting trays” to assist in doing puzzles. Now you can put all the pieces of similar colors into these trays instead of putting them on the table like countless other puzzledoers have been doing for generations.

And, if square trays aren’t your style, you can also get them in oval!

At first, I thought maybe they were a teaching tool for young children. Except, the box and product description clearly state that they’re not appropriate for people under the age of 12. Like Megan, I’m stumped as to why someone would need these. If having sorting trays were really important, couldn’t saucers or salad plates (which you may already own and rarely use) or paper plates (100 for 1/3 of the price) work? At least with paper plates you could write on them to explain exactly what type of pieces you have in that pile. You can’t easily write in a non-permanent way on plastic trays.

Finally, I’m starting to find that any device with the word “EZ” in the title is usually worth considering for a unitasker submission (e.g. the EZ Cracker).

Thanks, Megan, for taking a few minutes out of your Barnes and Noble trip to share this with us.

24 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Puzzle Sorters Puzzling Made EZ”

  1. posted by *m* on

    Okay, I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but this is the rare unitasker that I actually think has a little utility. Yes, the paper plates do the job, but when you’re a klutz like me, the odds that you will drop/spill them are extremely high. The stackability of these units certainly make them look spillproof and would save space if you wanted to put the puzzle away for a while.

    That said: Would I buy this? No.

  2. posted by Robin on

    I have a puzzle I’m currently working on that has over 10,000 pieces. I just have to be able to sort the pieces and put the puzzle away on occasion (I also have cats). I still wouldn’t buy this – those containers wouldn’t hold what I need but paper plates and cling-wrap or press-n-seal work perfectly to keep all the pieces in place when I need to pack up the puzzle.

  3. posted by kalle on

    Silly me, I’ve always sorted pieces into piles on the table. I never knew I needed a sorting tray. Oops. (giggle)

    If I HAD to separate puzzle pieces, I’d grab a muffin tin.

  4. posted by Carol on

    I think reusing plastic containers (ie, sour cream or dip containers) would be an improvement. Those come with lids and are also stackable with or without the lids.

  5. posted by Alice on

    Like *m*, I definitley see the utility of these, but of course I wouldn’t buy them (especially not for $17, especially not in plastic). I live in a tiny apartment, and most puzzles take up the entire table, which means a lot of moving the piles of pieces around to try to work on something.

    A muffin tin would be way too small for the volume of pieces you’re dealing with, and I foresee disaster trying to use relativley unstackable plates (especially bendy paper plates). I do like Carol’s idea of using plastic containers (with lids) (if you have plastic in your house), alongside some combination of mismatched cake pans and pie plates (my usual solution).

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    I’m loving everyone’s alternative suggestions!

  7. posted by Rae on

    As a puzzler with cats, I just want to thank everyone for your awesome ideas about how to sort a puzzle and still make it packable (muffin tin=brilliant). 🙂

  8. posted by Michelle C on

    I use the backing from a large picture frame (the frame itself broke) to do puzzles on — it can be moved when the puzzle is not being worked on, or if we need to use the table for something else, or if we want to work on the puzzle somewhere else. Yes it’s a unitasker. 🙂 When not being used it stores easily behind a bookcase.

    The toy store owner in my town says her mother uses baking trays to sort puzzle pieces.

  9. posted by Monique in TX on

    Serious puzzle enthusiasts might want to consider a sheet of desktop glass cut to fit their puzzle-working table, especially if it’s the kitchen table. Just put the glass on and you’re ready to eat, work, or do something else on the table and your puzzle is safe. An added benefit is that a glass table topper lets you put hot dishes right on the table (no trivets needed). You can also set out cookies to cool, it’s easy to clean, the pretty wood beneath remains unscratched, and you can put decorations between the glass and the table if you’re not puzzling–paper snowflakes, valentines, vacation postcards, birthday cards, cherished photos, leaves, sequins, etc. And because it’s the same size as the table top, it doesn’t take up any room!

  10. posted by michelle s. on

    So just making piles on the table isn’t good enough?

    Who knew we were puzzling (yes, that’s a verb) wrong all the many years. 😉

  11. posted by FormFire Glassworks on

    My grandmother would clean out the styrofoam meat packaging, like those you get for steaks. She used those for years to separate out the pieces. They’re light and fairly stiff.

  12. posted by Jude on

    My mother is 82 years old. She always has a puzzle going. We bought her a puzzle tray from Bits ‘n’ Pieces which works well for smaller puzzles, but when she works on a larger puzzle, she uses the smaller trays as well as cookie trays for sorting pieces and a 5’x4′ sheet of masonite that we had cut for larger puzzles. She sticks that on a couple of TV trays, and she’s in puzzle heaven. While this seems absolutely silly, my mother would probably make good use of it.

  13. posted by Jodi on

    I love the idea of the glass tabletop! Being able to enjoy the puzzle in progress seems a wonderful decorative use!

  14. posted by Another Deb on

    I am constantly seeing UPO’s (Unnecessary Plastic Objects) at thrift stores that could serve this purpose.
    Many of them I can’t even tell you what they used to be.

  15. posted by trueger on

    Off topic:

    “You can’t easily write in a non-permanent way on plastic trays.”

    I use a fine-tip whiteboard marker to label my food containers. You do have to make sure there isn’t any moisture on the surface when you scribble. It washes off easily with a light rub under running water.

  16. posted by richard on


    my 83 year old mom lives in a retirement community.

    There is an large multi purpose activity room with 2 tables reserved for puzzles, where there are usually at least two being assembled . The active “puzzlers” do make piles.. but all through the day, when no one is active at the puzzle table, other people come in and while waiting for (say) their dance lesson to begin, start mixing them up. I can see something like this being helpful at curbing this behavior, specially with folks with slight cognitive deficiencies , as found in the elderly and people with low level Alzheimer etc.

    It`s not a pile, it`s an organised group of pieces.


  17. posted by organizingwithe on

    This has got to be one of the most useless things I’ve ever seen! What was going through Barnes & Noble’s buyers head – or the inventors for that matter?

  18. posted by yvette on

    How strange indeed when I thought puzzles were designed to help you consume your time…

  19. posted by EngineerMom on

    I don’t think the concept of the trays is the problem – merely the price and the fact that you can re-use something else to do the same task.

    My parents always do a puzzle at Christmas. They have two dogs, one of whom is tall enough to reach the puzzle on the table and likes to chew cardboard. A set of stackable trays would be invaluable to keeping all the pieces out of the dog’s tummy. In the past, we’ve simply gated off the room in which the puzzle is being worked, but that’s not really possible in their current living space, so this uni-tasker has given me a great idea of a Christmas present for them – a puzzle and some Tupperware pieces for sorting pieces and keeping them away from the dog!

  20. posted by Laura on

    I do my puzzles on a large piece of felt. When I’m done for the day, I put the extra pieces into small baggies, roll up the felt OVER a large mailing tube, secure the two ends and drop the baggies into the tube.

    Easy to take to grandma’s house, vacation home, etc.

  21. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    Like Laura, I have a felt ‘table-topper’.

    As for the unitasker, 8 trays would not be enough for me – I sort by shape as well as colour.

  22. posted by amh on

    Thanks to all for the great ideas to organize puzzles! I especially like the suggestion about the felt, mailing tube and baggies, this is a big improvement over what I’ve been doing. Great timing for this discussion–our family is getting ready to begin our annual holiday puzzle this weekend and I’ll put the ideas to use.

  23. posted by Katrina on

    As I do large puzzles I can see the market for this, but it is a lot of unnecessary plastic.

    When I do jigsaw puzzles I use a felt mat because I only spend an hour or so at a time doing the puzzle. The mat rolls up which is useful as we need the dining table in the weeks it can take me to finish a puzzle.

    I use 4 small wide-necked glass marmalade jars to store the sorted pieces.

  24. posted by Katrina on

    P.S. this is the type of felt mat that some of us have been using http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/

Comments are closed.