Backgammon Cutlery Canteen Conversion

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Project by Don Johnson posted 03-02-2019 04:16 PM 922 views 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

My wife, Avril, and I got tired of lifting the heavy canteen of cutlery up for formal dinner parties and decided to put the contents (Pic 2) into the cutlery drawer of the chest of drawers adjacent to our dining table – having demoted the drawer’s original contents to the kitchen cabinet. Much less fiddling around getting the canteen contents out, and in replacing them into their correct positions after use, but leaving us with the redundant container shown in the last picture above. Casting around for ideas of what to do with the well-made and attractive wooden case, I hit on the idea of converting it to use it for Backgammon, and found a video about making a backgammon (and chess) board on YouTube:

After some considerable struggle to remove the lining (Pic 3), I was left with a box into which I could fit the various sections as I constructed them following the video. Unfortunately, although the video showed an excellent way to cut the triangular ‘points’ (Pic 5), the fact that there was no explanatory dialogue on the video, and that the maker’s hand obscured part of the action – when trimming the ends of the triangles – it meant that I had to use quite a bit of guesswork to get anywhere. Also, the fact that I had a limited supply of alternative hardwoods meant that the choice of material for the ‘background’ triangles was not the best – it would have been better if it had been plainer. Nevertheless, I completed sufficient triangles in appropriate woods, and set to glueing them together. There was no easy way to clamp the triangles laterally, and I realise now that I should have made a jig that employed wedges, like the one I used when making tambours following the video Although they appeared to be sticking reasonably well, each of the four sections showed an alarming tendency to bow upwards, and had to be restrained by bags of flour and lead-acid batteries.

After trimming the end triangles, the sections were then ready to fit into the case, and I was cautious about using too much glue, and as a result was probably was too mean! Although I weighted the sections down with lead-acid batteries overnight, in the morning there were a couple of areas that had lifted. There then followed a war of attrition as I tried to squeeze glue under partly stuck sections, with only my two Mattias Wandel long reach C clamps – – able to exert pressure where needed. This war lasted several days, during which Avril declared that I must never attempt this sort of thing again as it made me too grumpy! Eventually, the sections seemed to be staying put, and I was able to add the side and middle areas. I used small magnets to hold the side covers in position (Pic 4), and also to hold the lid closed.

I then applied three coats of Danish oil – after re-glueing another wandering triangle tip – and felt that the final result didn’t look to bad after all the fighting. I naturally was keen to show off my efforts on Lumberjocks so set up the counters I already had from a cardboard box version of backgammon in their start positions prior to taking some photographs. Now I had been very careful to ensure that the colours of the points in the sections alternated correctly, both laterally and vertically, but I soon realised that the red and white counters did not sit appropriately on the mahogany and maple sections in the standard start layout – I had actually placed the sections upside down! Frantically reading the rules of backgammon, I saw that the layout only refers to points ‘alternating’ in colour, and that it is not actually vital for Red’s Home Board to have a ‘reddish’ triangle on its ‘one’ point. Even so, it was a rather crushing blow to my ego after I had just been showing the finished board to groups of admiring friends at our Village Hall. I suppose Red’s Home Board could be at the bottom right, and he could play clockwise, with White at top right, playing anti-clockwise, but how that would be viewed by backgammon experts I’ve no idea!

So, not my finest effort – although in my defence I had been constrained by having to put the various sections into an already complete case, rather than having the freedom to assemble them on a backboard and then build the case around the finished panel. However, it was a good way to employ an otherwise redundant case, and as my daughter says she would like the finished article, I will not have the embarrassment of a stranger calling me to say that triangles have started to lift again!
Later. . . . .
Well. I looked at a Tutorial on Backgammon – – and I saw that I had NOT got the layout wrong! This clearly showed a ‘red’ point in the bottom right-hand corner as the number 1 point for the red player in his ‘Home’ quadrant, into which he would play his counters in a counter-clockwise direction before ‘Bearing Off’. What a relief!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

1 comment so far

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6226 posts in 2960 days

#1 posted 03-02-2019 07:35 PM

Bravo ! talk about a repurpose – that could be the tops

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

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