Quest for a unique cribbage board #1: Design and construction technique - Advice?

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Blog entry by Heyz posted 10-11-2008 04:21 AM 8881 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Quest for a unique cribbage board series Part 2: Making a steam box »

I’ve got an idea to build my dad a cribbage board for Christmas. What’s going to make it unique is that I’d like to inlay the tracks with three separate species of wood into a nice maple base.


So now the question is, how difficult will this be? I’d like the grain to follow the track, and so will need to bend the wood to follow the contour of the track – I’d prefer this over cutting the track shape out from a solid piece. I have a little bit of experience shaping wood by glueing up into it’s desired form, so I think I would go this route over steaming. Although, I may need to steam this anyways first to get some bend and relieve some pressure .

I’m going for a board about 24” long. I’d like it a little bigger than a standard board so that as my dad ages, he can continue to use it regardless of eyesight or fine motor skills. This makes it around 7 inches wide (Although I may make the border wider to reduce delicate areas.

My thought was to build up a jig and maybe make each track of a few pieces. The smallest inside diameter would be 1.1 inches – is this doable? I’m not sure how I would keep the pieces flat as I glue them if they are inlay thin. Clamping may be really tough as well. Perhaps make them from a thicker stock and then cut the stock down – leaving me an inlay for 2 or 3 cribbage boards? How would I cut that shape down? I think a table saw would be too powerful. I’d need to fill in the gaps before doing this. It may be safer on a bandsaw, but I don’t have one.

I’ve never done inlays but they really intrigue me. I certainly plan on practicing a bit first. So if you have any advice or design suggestions, I’d be happy to hear it.

One more thing. To keep the proportions relative, I would need to make it thicker overall. I think I’d make a base thick enough to store a deck of cards. Maybe the base would slide open or something. This idea is still brewing….

-- Heyz, in the cold winterland of Canada

5 comments so far

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4197 days

#1 posted 10-11-2008 10:13 PM

Best wishes …it sounds like a great project for your Dad to enjoy .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View tpastore's profile


105 posts in 4324 days

#2 posted 10-12-2008 12:08 AM

I would think that making the bends using inlay would be very difficult as it will want to have a rippled edge on the ID. If it were me, I would make a form using MDF to replicate the spaces inside the tracks (where the maple would be) I would then get strips of your 3 woods that are 5/8” wide and 3/8” thick. I would then steam the strips and glue them together in the pattern you want, clamping against the MDF form. (wax the MDF if you are concerned the parts will be glued to the MDF) I would make sure the ends of the strips are aligned at the “100” location and let them be misaligned at the “0” end. Let it dry and either pass it through a panel sander or use a bench sander to flatten the laminations. From there I would use double sided tape to stick the MDF form to your maple. I would use a pattern following bit to cut the pattern into the maple. I would make the cuts about 1/2” deep. From there I would use a chisel to square off the ends. I would then work the lamiation to fit the groove. (Cut the ends and sand the sides to get it to fit right. Some glue and another pass through the panel sander will get you ready for the drill press and 300 holes.



View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 4188 days

#3 posted 10-12-2008 02:31 AM

as a cribbage player since I was very very young, I’d say this is a nice project, IF you can pull it off. IF you can, then good luck, I look forward to seeing the end result. As pointed out 300+ holes to drill, more like 388 if I remember correctly for 3 players the way it’s laid out, is an awful lot of work.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 4149 days

#4 posted 10-12-2008 05:41 AM

I’m a cribbage playing freak myself and have made a fair share of boards before such as this 5 player tournament style board that contains a mere 640 holes… all hand drilled using a 1/8” brad point bit. :(

5 Player Cribbage

What you want to do will be difficult but not impossible. I would suggest that you do something using the traditional marquetry style of inlay. You could layer the different types of veneers together in a sandwich and use a fine toothed blade in a scroll saw to cut them out. They should seamlessly fit together. You wouldn’t get the grain to wrap around the curves but it would still look nice. You could scratch in some stringing between rows to add definition and to make up for gaps between the veneers. Good luck, and make sure to post pictures as you make progress.

-- Scott, Colorado

View Heyz's profile


22 posts in 4024 days

#5 posted 10-12-2008 06:41 PM

Thanks for ideas Tim & Scott. I’m looking for a challenge and this will be it. Spent all last night reading up on steam bending. I’m excited!

I’m not super excited at the prospect of drilling three or four hundred holes, but I guess it’s only half the work Tim had to do! I do need to buy myself a drill press first, and this project is the perfect excuse to do it!

-- Heyz, in the cold winterland of Canada

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