Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Cribbage Board

It's been three years since my last cribbage board. Time flies.
I finished something!
In an effort to keep from overloading this post with photos (again), I have combined a bunch of photos of this build into a little animation for your viewing pleasure.
I hope you don't get a seizure.
Cribbage is a really fun card game. I like it best for two people, but three-handed cribbage is also a hoot. Sadly, my wife hates cards, and I don't know anyone else nearby who plays. It sucks to be them, because I'll be on a crusade to teach people this fun game, and those people are all going to soon hate me.

I have kind of a weird philosophy when it comes to cribbage boards. I don't think one should find the perfect piece of wood for a cribbage board, I think you should make the cribbage board fit the piece of wood you have.

I happened to have an offcut of a piece of American birch laying around. It was small enough that it would make a handy size for a travel board for two-handed cribbage. However, it was a bit too long. I thought it would be a shame to cut it down, so I decided to make it double-length: a traditional layout requires that you move the pegs up one side and down the other twice. This board will allow you to go up and back for the required winning score of 121 points.

I learned a while back it is much easier to lay out a cribbage board with dividers than it is to do with a paper template. I feel the template constricts the design, whereas laying out your own pattern allows you to use the wood as you have it. This way I feel like I am not searching for the perfect piece of wood, I can use whatever wood I have.

In the past, the holes haven't all lined up exactly perfectly. I decided this time to start by using the brad point drill bit in my fingers as an awl to start the hole exactly where it needs to be. This improved the quality of how the holes lined up immensely.

I first did this to improve accuracy.
Also, I've really come to like using an eggbeater drill for this job. A drill press doesn't make these holes any faster, and I can do it at my desk during breaks at work. Just frequently keep dusting the sawdust away.
The perfect tool for the job.
One problem I came upon after I drilled out 244 holes on this board, was that they were too close together. When my pegs (purchased from Lee Valley) were in adjacent holes (something that happens frequently in cribbage), they bump against each other in a way that prevents them from seating fully.

To remedy this, I put away the metal pegs I had, and got out the wooden ones that are shaped just the same. I spray painted the heads red or blue, and then made a jig to plane them into a hexagonal shape. This actually lets them get closer together. It's not perfect, but the pegs seat well enough to prevent disaster from happening while playing the game.
My peg-shaving jig made from an old drawer front found in a dumpster.
I kind of eyeballed the angles for the hexagon. I'm pleased with how they look.

An interesting look.
I thought it might be fun to add some more Hillbilly Inlay. This time with spray paint. I ran a marking gauge up the center line of each track, and then widened the mark with a shop knife. I taped it off and sprayed it with two coats of each color.
Right after removing the masking tape.
A few strokes with a plane and there was some nice colored kohlrosing to match the color of the pegs for each player.
Almost done, don't screw it up!
Lastly, I wanted to add a decorative profile to the edges. I've done this profile before with great success, and this example isn't such a great success. I wish I would have just chamfered it. I'll decide in a few days if I want to mess with it any more.
Finished piece.
Overall, I'm generally very pleased with this cribbage board. If I make another one, I'll probably space the holes a little farther apart, and avoid the decorative profile unless I have the proper tools. On the plus side, I'm tickled with the accuracy of the holes, and the effect of the colored stripes.

Stay tuned, as I predict I'll make more of these, as they are a lot of fun to make.


  1. Nice looking board.

    I really like the look of the pegs. That hexagonal shape combined with the colours is spot on.


    1. Thanks! I forsee the use of spray paint in some of my projects from now on. :)

  2. It's also fun just to watch you make these. :) Getting the paint in a fine line is a good idea. Also got a kick out of yet another benefit of your dumpster diving.

    1. Hey Jeff! Thanks for the comment. Actually, the scrap is something that I've had rolling around for years. It came through the mail from the US. I still have plenty of dumpster wood for my next one.


  3. We have league Sunday nights at OMNI Brewery in Maple Grove, MN if you are in the neighborhood!

    1. I used to have a sister who lived in MN, but now she's in Nevada. But you never know! If I'm in the neighborhood, I'll pop by. Thanks for the invite, Marshall!

  4. I still can't figure out how to exactly score a cribbage match :)
    ....I guess I need to play it a few times; it's been 25 years.

    1. It's like riding a bike. Except easier now. There are plenty of free cribbage apps out there to sharpen your skills. I've been jagging on them lately. There's this one computer opponent named Anne who keeps kicking my butt, I feel compelled to crush her.