My First Crokinole Board

I’ve always been impressed with self-made Crokinole boards. BGG’s image gallery is overflowing with all styles, octagonal and circular gutters, plywood, hardwood, painted, natural, fancy, simple, impressive, crude, … the variety is endless.

Regardless of the variety, there’s one common theme: pride.  Every one of those boards has had the energy, drive, spirit, and motivation of the maker poured into it, lovingly hand-rubbed, and waxed into the surface. The pride of a job attempted, completed, and well done. It’s a lot of effort, regardless of the outcome, to see a project through to the end and for that, I commend everyone who’s taken on the task of making their own board.

I’ve always wanted to make my own but just never, well, just never had the motivation to try.  Nothing was stopping me other than just doing it. So, last weekend, I found the motivation somewhere inside, and embarked on the journey of making my own board.

After reading a lot of posts on BGG, consulting the web for other techniques, tricks, and tips, I decided to use maple plywood. I liked the looks of the round gutters so I also purchased an 8′ maple trim piece that I could rip into strips to make the gutter guard.  I also decided to leave it natural and make my own discs…more on that later.

Squares

I created a table extension and jig for my band-saw that would let me rotate rough sawn squares around a pivot to make the circular playing surface and the circular base.  It was crucial that these be exactly circular as I would be wrapping the base with thin strips of maple and I didn’t want any gaps due to an irregular cut.

RoughCutCircles

With the circles cut, I turned my attention to the 8′ maple trim. I ripped the face off both sides of the trim piece creating two 8′ strips I would eventually use to create the gutter wall.  8′ is just barely long enough to wrap the base.

Bands

I then got to work on wrapping the circular base with two layers of the bands. I nailed and glued the first layer keeping the clean face towards the inside of the playing surface, wrapped that with a band-clamp.

InstallingBand

When that was dry, I glued and wrapped the second layer (with the second clean surface facing out) with a band clamp and other ancillary clamps.

Banded

In parallel, I wrapped and sanded the edge of the playing surface with a thinly ripped piece of maple to cover the exposed plywood edge.

Edge

After the gutter wall was dry, I scarfed the outer joint edges to create a clean joint.

Joint

I also knocked out the rough blanks that would eventually become the playing discs.

DiscBlanks

I was really nervous about the playing surface lines. Many hobbiest board-makers use a Sharpie marker but I was really hesitant. You have to be very careful to prepared the surface appropriately so that the marker won’t bleed into the wood and you need to create an environment to get an exact circle…no wavy lines or inconsistent thicknesses. Professional makers (or those with access to expensive pieces of equipment) route grooves into the surface but I just didn’t see how I could accomplish that without wrecking it. So, I improvised with the help of an old Erector Set Noah had as a kid.

Erector

With a center pivot hole that tightly fit an axle and pieces that tightly fit the axle extending outward with pre-drilled holes at 1/2″ intervals I was well-prepared to make the Sharpie lines at 4″, 8″, and 12″ intervals.

Sharpie

Next was creating the appropriate holes for the 8 pegs arranged around the center line. Those holes are rotated 22.5° from the 90° that define the 4 playing regions.

Compass

I was getting close now.  By this time I’d had three layers of poly on the playing surface, then the Sharpie lines, peg holes drilled along with the center hole, and then two more layers of poly.

TopWithLines

After gluing and screwing the playing surface to the base, waxing the surface with auto-wax to get a nice slippery surface, and installing the pegs (I used wooden ‘toy axles’ wrapped with clear vinyl tubing), I was declaring it done.

TopDown

Overall I’m very happy with the result. If I make another one I’ve got some ideas about what I can do to improve it but I shouldn’t let that detract from enjoying this one.  I had some trouble finishing off the playing discs and from the image above it might look like it’s hard to tell the difference between them.  However, in play, the sides of one set are black (they look a bit like seaweed-wrapped sushi unfortunately!) and it’s clear which discs are your opponent’s. I also painted the center hole and the interior sides of the hole black to match the pegs.

InPlay

If you ever think you’d like to try making a board, go for it. I found the project entirely enjoyable, nerve-wracking at times (I had heart-palpitations during the Sharpie marking), but completely rewarding.

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