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Project by vipond33 posted 04-25-2012 02:40 AM 17218 views 99 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As yet another wood game comes screaming off the assembly line here at Vipond woodworks, I fancy I hear some of you saying to yourselves “Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?” Why, yes you have if you’re an old fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. For this is Terrace, the game often seen being played in the crew member’s lounge. It was a permanent prop on the series.

For their purposes it was made in space age-y “puhlastick” (did I say that right?) and featured brightly coloured hemispherical playing pieces.

Not being a big fan of petrochemical products I have re-done this attractive playing board in stone age wood with slightly higher risers and, having taken a vow in my youth never to consort with tempting hemispheres or shiny seductive paint (but still trying to be true to the spirit of the show), made the men out of wood as well, but in a menacing Borg cube style.

Back to the future, back to reality.

Playing this game is simple with only four basic rules so it’s good for kids too and it may be thought of as a combination of checkers and easy chess. The object of the game is to move your specially marked smallest piece from one corner diagonally to the other, capturing or avoiding your foe along the way. The difference from those games is in the levels or terraces, as you have capturing power only from above. Larger pieces over smaller, higher ground over lower, that’s really quite intuitive.

If you decide to make this board, there are three possible approaches. One is to cut individual squares and glue them together (tough but do-able), another is to cut varying length strips and profile them to make squares, or, you may lay up planes of wood as I have done here with notching and grooving. You might like to use different woods for a traditional checker board effect. My board has all outside surfaces veneered to conceal the layers and grooves.

Hemispheres are really at your own discretion (though turners may delight!) You could also substitute machine nuts, lithium cells or buttons for the pieces but probably not Federation super magnets no matter how cool they would look.

A comparison:

The wood used here is a fabulous rich Honduras mahogany, formerly the drawer bottoms from a very old desk that I re-configured at work; they were marked by the original wood shop as being made in: “Niagara Falls -1926” (in the local space-time continuum). The playing pieces are maple and ebony.

The appropriately terraced and mitred holding box(s) are made with snug fitting recesses and have a crown of heartwood with sapwood streaked ebony.

Finally, in the repetition sweepstakes that I so gamely play, this one’s a real contender. 696 miniature rebates to be cut, sanded and edges broken, with somewhere around 2960 movements altogether including fitting of the cubes. Don’t talk to me about why I didn’t round over each little corner. I suppose there’s a limit to the universe somewhere out there, but you know I think Steve Palm may have a good case here.
All detailing was done with a 10”x250 tooth x 2mm, hollow ground, HSS metal cutting blade.

Board -sanding sealer. Tower box -spray shellac. Cubes -wax only on the buffing wheel. Goddard’s wax throughout.

This is an absorbing game for pre-teens up to dotards and is easy to learn, however it did earn a Mensa award, so, if you’re not real careful, you might find yourself suddenly locked in a tractor beam as your young grinning opponent annihilates your fleet. May the farce be with you.

11 1/2” x 11 1/2” x 2 3/4” Board (1 7/16” squares)
3 3/4” x 3 3/4” x 9 1/2” Box tower
3/4”, 7/8”, 1”, 1 1/8” Cubes
About 32 hrs, maybe more.
Build on LJ’s.

rules, trivia and online game play


Download the game.
This is very old but it works just fine. Amazingly, with it you can play a friend over a phone line if you have a 1200 to 9600 baud modem! You’ve got to love and thank the people that keep this stuff alive.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

33 comments so far

View Boxguy's profile


2889 posts in 3241 days

#1 posted 04-25-2012 02:58 AM


What fun this is. It never ceases to amaze me what people will do with wood. A very nice and complete write up that serves to make this project both understandable and accessible. That is the joy of the LJ website. Thanks for sharing this idea with us.

Live long and prosper!

-- Big Al in IN

View Ivan's profile (online now)


16526 posts in 3841 days

#2 posted 04-25-2012 03:06 AM

This is awsome!Such a good idea and also how to do it pictures.Thanks!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View shipwright's profile


8651 posts in 3772 days

#3 posted 04-25-2012 04:25 AM

Aw grow up Gene…..... no wait a minute….. don’t.
You are having way too much fun here my friend and we are all enjoying it with you.
This is too cool!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4551 days

#4 posted 04-25-2012 04:38 AM

This is is totally cool.


View rance's profile


4275 posts in 4134 days

#5 posted 04-25-2012 05:07 AM

It has all been said above, but I also thank you for sharing a piece of your mind with us all. You sure do inspire. Who knew there were so many fascinating games that no one has ever heard of. Keep em coming. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3382 days

#6 posted 04-25-2012 09:58 AM

Great project. I had never heard of thisd game before and it does look interesting… make and to play.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Spoontaneous's profile


1338 posts in 4304 days

#7 posted 04-25-2012 12:23 PM

What a GREAT collection of games. I hope you never break up the collection…as it deserves one day to be featured in a museum (or some serious collector). The variety of games is impressive enough… but every one is permeated with fine craftsmanship. Stellar.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View SPalm's profile


5337 posts in 4856 days

#8 posted 04-25-2012 12:31 PM

Wow Gene, that is so cool. What a mind you have. I can only imagine what races around up there when you have time to yourself. A cacophony of thoughts to be sure. I smile.

The wood working is top notch. I love the veneered sides – they look perfect. I could swear that I saw these pieces laying around on the bench in one of your earlier posts, and thought you were up to something.

Thanks for the inspiration,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4882 days

#9 posted 04-25-2012 01:15 PM

Even if I never played this, it would look great sitting on a side table.
I really like that mahogany and the shaping of the board.
Well done, thanks for the detailed post.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Bluepine38's profile


3388 posts in 4059 days

#10 posted 04-25-2012 01:24 PM

You have way too much time on your hands, but thank you for sharing the product of that time and your
craftsmanship with us. Since I seem too have plenty of time also, I may just try this.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View balidoug's profile


517 posts in 3452 days

#11 posted 04-25-2012 01:44 PM

Wondrous as always. Yet another toy for the bucket list. But are you sure “Niagara Falls 1926” is part of any space time continuum outside a Fitzgerald story?

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View DocSavage45's profile


9028 posts in 3816 days

#12 posted 04-25-2012 02:58 PM

“Beam me up, Scotie!’ Like the trek you are on. Thought I was observant…guess not? I was always fascinated w/ 3 dimensional chess, which I am too slow to play now. ( from watching Star Trek. ) Have you considered, or do you have it in your game collection?

Had looked at this before and it stuck in my head that “I like your thinking process :-) ” As well as what comes from it. It appears too, from what I have seen of your projects, that you are a patient craftsman as well as a future thinker. Came back to tell ya!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3857 days

#13 posted 04-25-2012 03:40 PM

Another one for the favourites list. Live long and prosper.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Josh's profile


1234 posts in 3543 days

#14 posted 04-25-2012 04:17 PM

Ok, now this is too cool.

-- Tree, wood, and box lover from Pennsylvania

View LeroyTheLips's profile


248 posts in 3221 days

#15 posted 04-25-2012 04:38 PM

I will have to make this one. Nice job. Although I do like the brightly colored spheres.

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