Picture of Altoids Tin Travel Games - Pocket Size Fun
Finished Inside Chess.jpg
Finished Inside Tic Tac Toe.jpg
Finished Outside.jpg
Altoids tins are amazing things and here is yet another fun use for them. While this instructable includes a checker/chess board, tic-tac-toe, and backgammon the possibilities are really endless so feel free to add your own ideas.

Materials Needed:
Altoids 50g Tin (Rectangular)
Glue (Spray adhesive works well but a gluestick will also work)
Crazy Glue
Fimo (for making your own game pieces)
Rare Earth Magnets
Hammer (optional, you'll see why in step 5)
Safety Glasses (if you need to bust up your magnets into smaller pieces)

Remember to vote if you like it!

*Important Warnings:
Magnets: Though this game is pocket size you should take care what you already have in your pocket when placing this game inside as it makes use of some very strong magnets. Some things like sensitive electronics, cameras, and especially credit cards with magnetic stripes do not play well with rare-earth magnets.

Choking Hazard: If you're making this for your kids (or with them) keep in mind that the game pieces are small and could pose a choking hazard to small children.
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Step 1: Cleaning The Tin

Eat all the mints or dump them into a ziplock bag for consumption later, it never hurts to have a bag of mints in your car or desk at work.

Mint dust, while tasty,  can impede the glueing portion later on. Run the tin under a tap and then dry thoroughly with paper towel. If you have a can of compressed air it wouldn't hurt to give it a quick blast just to make sure its all gone.

Step 2: Print & Cutout The Game Surfaces

Picture of Print & Cutout The Game Surfaces
The attached template sheet is made to be printed on 8.5x11 paper in order for the game surfaces to be sized correctly. If you are having problems getting it to print properly try setting your print size to 100% at a dpi of 300.

Using scissors carefully cut the game surfaces out. There is also a blank template included if you choose to make your own instead of using the supplied ones.
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Nightauel1 year ago

* sells a similar tin for $0.88 ea. Down side, you have to buy them in lots of 24. Up side, you don't have to pay for or eat two dozen tins of mints and there is no imprint in the lid or mint dust to deal with. They do have many sizes, shapes and configurations of tins, and thousands of other fun things, but there's no mixing and matching for quanitity. Pretty sure they ship worldwide, so that should basically solve all the previous supply questions.

Nate2301 year ago
Where can i get magnets?
jphphotography (author)  Nate2301 year ago
I got mine from Dealextreme ( but nowadays they're quite common, if you have a Lee Valley store in your area/country they sell them there I believe. Ebay or Dealextreme will be the cheapest by far though, any extras are handy to have around as fridge magnets etc. I've superglued some to random things so they'd hang on my fridge (scissors for example).
Frederbee2 years ago
For the magnets, when I was in elementary school we had earrings that were no-pierce. They would be shaped like the stud, about a 1/8" round cylinder, and would magnetically cling through the ear. These would be roughly the size you need
Or these if you go with the colour coding
Nice to see Altoids used for something other than freshening your breath, or surviving the collapse of society. Great job!
xavec3 years ago
This is totally outstanding work. Nice job! now I just need to find a similar sized tin in the UK...
awsomeegan3 years ago
can you tell me how you guys get the top of the tins to smooth, all the tins i see have ALTOIDS raised and i dont know if you have to find a smooth one or if you flatten them some how
chilll20094 years ago
awesome idea.
I am Silas.5 years ago
You did an awesome job.
Comment spam!
Seriously though, is this a double post gone terribly wrong, or did you intend to make four separate consecutive posts? :P
Pretty awesome idea, however I'd suggest picking a game other than tic-tac-toe considering it's such a flawed game (as long as the two people playing truly know how to play, it will always end in a tie).
Yeah, that's always bugged me. One of the things they teach you in a computer science course is making a simple tic-tac-toe algorithm. I made one in two days:).

Now, if you want a real challenge, try Quantum tic-tac-toe. It was a game designed to help students understand quantum mechanics, so you can pretty much guess the level of strategy involved.

That Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe just blew my mind.
Thank you good sir.
How about using allergy pills?
I'm not sure I understand.
Care to elaborate?
haugenka4 years ago
Great idea, well designed instructable – love the quality photos. The only thing I'd change is how to do the game boards. Printables are quick, for sure, but how do you make the paper durable/waterproof/etc.? I suppose you could shellac it on, or I think you could spray the tin white, then mask on the black bits, or burnish off the original paint, mask it and just spray the black parts. A bit more work, but then it'd last for camping, etc.
haugenka4 years ago
I'm thinking you could use the letters from an old typewriter to press into the fimo – Q for queen, etc. The only issue is the knights & king, but the king is usually designated with a cross, so you could use the plus or X. I'd still probably try to shape them a bit, but this would help and give it a nice industrial look...
i used the kiln oven in my school to make the pieces for chess out of clay.
but i didnt want to make the actual figures (i tried the first time and the cracked in me pocket), i just made black and white checkers with K, Q, B, H (horse), R, and P, and i play every weekend on the train to the nyc with my friends.
jphphotography (author)  klingonprins5 years ago
Right on! Glad to hear it worked for you and that you're getting some good use out of it. Nice idea marking the simple pieces instead.

thanks.  i will send some pics of the kit i made when i get my camera fixed, but you can probably guess.  it was a waste of time to make all of the figures like real.  i make chess peices as a hobby and sell them on the street markets in my city, and i can get around $500 for something like them and an easy wood board.
depotdevoid5 years ago
Great idea, I just made one, and it rocks!
jphphotography (author)  depotdevoid5 years ago
Glad you liked it, you should post a few pictures I'd love to see it!
Well, I found a little time to get this done, so here are the pictures. The last one has my own little addition, a deck of mini playing cards. Thanks for the idea, I intend to use this as a sub-component to an upcoming instructable, and I'll make sure to attribute it to you and link back to this 'ible. Thanks, Ian
Picture 4583.jpgPicture 4585.jpgPicture 4588.jpgPicture 4591.jpg
awwwww i love it!!
Will do, the Fimo is baking and will be done soon, I'll probably post a few pictures tonight.
I am Silas.5 years ago
Thank you jphphotography!
I am Silas.5 years ago
What would be an alternative for Fimo?
jphphotography (author)  I am Silas.5 years ago
Fimo is a "polymer clay", I believe an alternative would be a product called "sculpey"

You can also try googling Polymer Clay and see if anything else comes up.
I am Silas.5 years ago
Excuse me but what is Fimo?
panascakes5 years ago
For chess pieces you could have each piece be a different color rather than shape. Then one team could have circle pieces and one team could have square pieces. That way you would not have to try to shape the pieces.
jphphotography (author)  CrazyRainChild5 years ago
At first when I read your comment I thought that would take way too many colours but after thinking more about it you're right. Unfortunately I only had 2 colours so I was stuck. You'd need 6 colours but if you were mixing them you could probably do it with less, say if you just picked up Red, Yellow, Blue for example. Thanks for the suggestion.
thegreatash5 years ago
u r gr8 at photography
jphphotography (author) 5 years ago
Thanks for all the positive feedback guys, remember if you really like this project I'd appreciate a vote for the "pocket size" contest. Voting buttons are up at the top of the screen. Thanks again James PS If any of you make this project feel free to post a picture of how it turned out!
amakerguy5 years ago
hey thanks I like it. I'm going to make it! (I have 2 big tins and 2 smalls tins)
Wow.. looks cool. It's always nice to have several games in one box. Thanks for the instructable!
skatelong5 years ago
Does anyone know were to get altoids in NZ???
jphphotography (author)  skatelong5 years ago
I wish I could help you out but I have no idea. You may however be able to order a case of them off ebay or a similar site. The tins are great for projects so you'll probably use all the tins up eventually ;)
It looks very professional. That sheet magnet can be very strong,i have it for fridge magnets and they are solidly fixed,you have to pull pretty hard to release them. I think for chess,you could print out the chess pieces and then stick them to it,it would make for more compact counters for the games. Snakes and ladders and Ludo would be good .
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