This is just a quick post about making board game pieces. A word of warning, when making wooden pieces, hexagons are hard to make. Luckily I have a father who is a carpenter, and because I certainly did not inherit his ability to work with wood, it was very helpful. We eventually did make quite a few pieces, but it required plenty of heavy equipment. That equipment made light work of what would have been a very slow process manually, and if I ever need to make more, it will be quite easy now that we know how.
How to cut your own board game pieces
First we worked out the height and width; 20mm and 17mm, and about a metre long Then we cut and planed the timber to size (planing gives timber a smooth edge). With a circular saw we ran the lengths along an angled blade to create the first side, then rotated until all the sides were done (four in total). The 17mm width needs no further changes, but the 20mm side is altered. Dad made sure the angled sides were 17.5mm apart, so that we had and extra 0.5mm, or 0.25mm for each side. This way, we could run it through the planer and get a nice smooth finish. Then we just sliced it up, like a carrot, 10mm thick. (All the credit goes to my dad, thanks!)
I thought this diagram might shed more light on my description.
I then sanded back each piece, yes each piece, until they were nice and smooth on the flat sides, and I had removed most of the splintered edges. There are about four hundred pieces all up.
Painting the home-made board game pieces
I had two ideas; staining the pieces and using six kinds of wood, or painting the pieces. Since we only had three kinds of wood at the time of cutting, painting was the option I chose. Painting them was easy if I just wanted them plain, but I wanted some pieces that could be distinguished from others. I thought of a variety of ideas, but some were impossible (or at least very difficult), and as these are just trial pieces I didn’t want to get too far into the process.
I found a hole punch in the shape of the Sovereign emblem (fleur de lis) and cut out some sticker paper into those shapes. Then I painted one side in a contrasting colour to the final colour, generally ‘slate grey’. When that paint was dry, I stuck the sticker over the top, and then painted the end colour over the top of that. The end result, once the sticker was pulled off, left the emblem in the slate grey. It was very fiddly, but it looked nice when the sticker came away clean.
Some things to note about making your own game board pieces out of wood
- The first thing I found was that hard wood, with a fine grain, is much much better. The pine was rough, light and didn’t paint well.
- Make sure you have plenty of pieces to trial out your ideas for painting etc. although you can always paint over them.
- Make it easy to reproduce, if you are only making a few one offs that’s fine, but four hundred to six hundred pieces can take a while (I am still not finished).
- Think about the colours you use; high contrast is best. The yellow I used does not stand out too well on the board.
- If you can buy them and they are not too expensive, it’s not a bad option.
I will write about a really successful test-play we did the other week soon.