Keith’s Multi-Purpose Game Board

Viewer Project - By Keith Tate from Overland Park, KS
Added on January 18, 2017

A neighbor asked if I could build a marble game board to replace a very old version that had been in their family for years, but was deteriorating and becoming unusable. The request was fairly simple and inexpensive. It basically involved drilling multiple holes in the top of a 2-ft square board (1/2 inch plywood sufficient), finished with minimal paint and sealer to meet her expectations.

Although my “client’s” request was simple, in my mind I had a vision for something much more elaborate and sophisticated. At the time, I’d been wanting to experiment with customizing woodworking pieces with inlay techniques. I told my neighbor if she would allow me to upgrade her request by adding a checker board inlay on the reverse side of the game board, I would perform the work “gratis.” She accepted, my work began, and the results are illustrated in the accompanying photos.

To complete the checker board upgrade, I made custom checker pieces. And the result leveraged my new found skills for creating inlay solutions. Each checker included a shiny penny inlaid on each side (heads vs tails).

The overall result turned out very well. In fact, upon presenting the finished product to my neighbor, tears came to her eyes, followed by smiles and a hug! A happy customer…the true measure of success!

As part of this project, I learned an alternative for planing wood without investing in a conventional joiner, planer, or drum sander. Specifically, after inlaying the checker board pattern in the game board base, I had to plane the top of the completed checker board so that the wooden checker pattern was flush with the surrounding base. After doing some research, coincidentally, I watched a YouTube episode of the Wood Whisperer (thanks Marc!), and built a “sled” using birch plywood, which, when used in conjunction with a plunge router, met my needs. This nifty “sled” will come in handy on future projects.

Materials, Cost, Labor:
Game Board Base: White Pine
Inlay woods for checker board: Bubinga and Oak
Checker board pieces: Oak (12 pieces natural, 12 pieces stained w/ Antique Cherry)
Checker board pieces inlaid with pennies
Marble board stain: Antique Cherry
Marble board holes: Drilled with 1/2 inch Forstner bit, and painted w/acrylic enamel colors (red, blue, yellow, and green)
Overall finish coat: Shellac (clear)
Total material cost: Approx. $100
Hours spent: Approx. 40

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