I've always admired this excellent Altoids Tin Travel Games instructable from a few years ago, but never felt comfortable pasting the game boards directly to the tin, as they had done. Water damage and the everyday wear and tear from the junk in my pocket would ruin those boards in no time. So I've casually been working on a version better suited to my needs. Then the "Are We There Yet?" challenge arrived, and I knew it was time to finish this thing for real. So here it is.
These instructions detail how to make a portable Altoids game chest with interchangeable laminated game boards and magnetic pieces. The games included are: Go, Othello (or Reversi), Chess, Checkers, Shogi (Japanese Chess), Chinese Checkers, Backgammon, Nine Man's Morris, Twelve Man's Morris, Cribbage, and Farkel.
I hope this device comes in handy during your next trip, entertaining you and your kids on those long cross country car rides. And remember to check out the "Are We There Yet?" Challenge periodically and vote for your favorites. I'm sure there will be some good stuff appearing in there. :-)
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
- an Altoids tin with a smooth lid (or a knock-off, like I'm using)
- access to a printer and paper
- clear packing tape
- scotch tape
- wire cutters
- bobby pins
- a sheet of flexible magnetic vinyl (like a fridge magnet) [detail in Pics. 4 and 5]
- various markers
- small dice (6, in my case)
- small spring clips
- very small plastic bags or individual baseball card sleeves
- a scrap of sandpaper or a metal file
- a few powerful rare-earth magnets
- a deck of cards
- a hole punch
Step 2: Making Your Game Boards
I would have preferred to have made the boards in Adobe Illustrator, because then they would be vector images and would be infinitely scalable. However I made them during some downtime at work, where I don't have access to Adobe products. If and when I finish the vector versions I will upload them here.
The Steps are:
*Pic. 1* Print out the attached game boards, or draw and print your own. To keep the boards thin, I printed mine double sided (for example, one side is a Chess board, the other side is Backgammon).
*Pic. 2* Cut out the boards with scissors. Make sure they fit comfortably in the Altoids tin.
*Pic. 3* Using the packing tape, laminate first one side of a game board.
*Pic. 4* Then laminate the other side.
*Pic. 5* Trim off the excess tape.
*Pic. 6* Repeat until all your boards are laminated. They certainly aren't water proof, but at least now they're water resistant.
Step 3: Prepping the Tin
*Pic. 1* Use a marker to draw two small dots where we will cut holes in the lid with the wire cutters.
They should be on opposite corners of the lid, about one millimeter or so from the short edges.
*Pic. 2* Using the wire cutters make a hole in one corner large enough to fit one of the tines of a bobby pin. Use a bit of sandpaper or a file to clean up any sharp burrs and keep everything safe for young fingers.
*Pic. 3* Make a similar hole in the opposite corner. More sanding.
*Pic. 4* Cut the tips off the long arms of two bobby pins.
*Pic. 5* The clipped bobby pins should look like this.
*Pic. 6* Insert the clipped arms of the bobby pins into the holes in the lid.
*Pic. 7* Use the scotch tape to tape the bobby pins firmly in place.
*Pic. 8* The tin should now look like this.
*Pic. 9* One of the bobby pins will prevent the lid from closing properly, so the last step is to cut a small notch in the tin to allow everything to close up tight. Locate the troublesome corner and mark it with a marker.
*Pic. 10* Cut a notch in the tin just large enough to allow everything to close properly. Sand the rough edge with a bit sandpaper or a file to remove any rough edges. The chest is now finished.
Step 4: Game Pieces
I made most of my game pieces by cutting them from the flexible magnetic sheet with scissors. This worked fine, but was tedious and time consuming to say the least. If you have a hole punch or similar tool to speed up the process I suggest using it, I certainly would have if I could.
*Pic. 1* Chess: I salvaged my chess pieces from another travel set I had lying around. If you don't have a tiny chess set to steal from, I recommend the original Altoids 'ible. The author made some cool pieces using Fimo.
*Pic. 2* Go: A 9x9 Go board uses 81 pieces, so I cut out 81 octagons from the magnetic sheet. I think a hole punch may have been handy here. The magnetic sheet naturally has both a white side and a black side, so to differentiate pieces simply flip them over. The Backgammon pieces, Othello pieces, Nine/Twelve Man Morris pieces, and Checkers pieces are all just a subset of these 81 Go pieces.
*Pic. 3* Backgammon: Just 30 of the 81 Go pieces. I used the two extra Farkel dice to simulate a doubling cube.
*Pic. 4* Nine and Twelve Man's Morris: Just uses Go pieces as well.
*Pic. 5* Shogi: The square pieces I cut were too small to draw the Japanese Kanji on, so I just wrote English letter equivalents on them.
*Pic. 6* Chinese Checkers: I cut 60 small squares. Once I have a few good colored permanent markers I will color them to differentiate players.
*Pic. 7* Cribbage: 3 players with 3 pieces each = 9 pieces. I used little rectangles with symbols on them.
*Pic. 8* Farkel: All you need is six dice.
*Not pictured* Checkers: Use Go pieces.
Othello: Use Go pieces.
Step 5: Packing It All Up
Put all your pieces in small, individual plastic bags, held shut by small spring clips. I used individual plastic baseball card sheaths as my bags. [Pics. 2 & 3]
Then just pile everything into the tin, close the lid, and you're ready to go. It's that simple! [Pics. 4 & 5]
Step 6: Bonus! Detachable Travel Cards
*Pic. 1* Locate a few powerful Neodymium magnets. I bought mine at the dollar store (I have an awesome dollar store!).
*Pic. 2* Tape the magnets to your favorite (or least favorite) deck of cards. Personally, I've always loved Aviators.
*Pic. 3* Set the Altoids can on the magnets, and voila! They're attached.
*Pic. 4* The magnets are more than powerful enough to hold the cards to the tin. However, because the magnets are sandwiched between the tin and the cards, you don't have to worry too much about them wiping your credit cards and the like. Although, I probably won't put my memory sticks in the same pocket as this thing.
*Pic. 5* Now you have a nice little portable chest of fun. Go forth and travel without fearing the specter of boredom.
Thanks for checking out my instructable. I hope you liked it. Please feel free to post photos of your own favorite board games, if you include them in your own version. And don't forget to go check out all the other cool submissions in the "Are We There Yet?" Challenge.