My niece had been begging me for a mancala board for years, so I decided to make her one for her high school graduation.
After drawing the board out full size on several pieces of printer paper taped together, I transferred the design to a story stick and then transferred it to the work piece. I had a slab of Michigan black walnut that a friend had given me, and I thought that the color variations in the piece would make for an interesting game board.
I routed out the dishes with a 1-1/4″ round nose bit with a bearing, using a jig that I made out of an old piece of 2×12 pine that I had laying around.
The difficult part was sanding inside the dishes, and I had to make a mini sanding disk for my drill to smooth out the bottoms. There was also a lot of hand sanding involved. I sanded to 120 grit, then applied 2 coats of Danish oil, and three coats of wipe-on polyurethane.
It was a fun project and I learned a lot, especially about the importance of a router speed control with heavier bits. My niece was thrilled, and wanted to play it all weekend!