Mine has storage for tokens to mark givens (corners cut), guesses (solid squares), and possibilities (tiny cubes). I also chose rainbow colors so that it's possible to recite them in order when checking which are missing. I no longer have the measurements of the individual parts, but hopefully these pictures might inspire people to create their own projects!
The materials I used were:
- Oak boards for the sides and drawer walls
- Four sheets of thin plywood - two for the top, one for the drawer bottom, and one thicker one for the bottom of the whole board
- Acrylic paints
- Acrylic clear coat spray (for the game pieces)
- 2-in-1 polyurethane and stain for the board
As far as tools:
- Laser cutter for the pieces and their slots
- Woodworking shop machinery (scroll saw, table saw, miter saw, disc sander, two metric tons of sandpaper)
Step 1: Cut Main Pieces, Dry Fit
The size of the playing surface was constrained by the sizes of the holes for the pieces and the spaces between rows and 3x3 squares. The pieces needed to be slightly smaller than the playing holes, and stored within the drawer. A lot of figuring went into making sure that everything would fit properly. Buy extra wood so that you have some degrees of freedom everywhere possible.
In the first picture on the right you can see the four outer sides with dadoes cut for the top playing surface and the bottom thicker plywood (with a lip to hold it in). In the center are the four smaller drawer sides with dadoes for the drawer bottom. Beneath them are the four sheets of plywood. Not pictured are the plywood pieces used for creating sections in the drawer, and the plywood used to cut the playing pieces out of.
The second picture shows a dry fit of the drawer and main board. You can see how there are two plywood sheets on top - one will have holes laser cut for the pieces, while the other will provide a backing. I had to cut a hole in the front board to allow the drawer through, and this was accomplished with a drill and scroll saw.
Step 2: Cut the Playing Pieces
Many of the pieces had to be sanded a bit by hand to finish rough edges before painting.
Step 3: Glue, Sand, Stain the Board!
Once everything was glued, I thoroughly sanded the whole thing until very smooth then applied 2-in-1 polyurethane and stain.
You can see the playing pieces arranged in the drawers. I cut some chunks of hardwood to use as separators within each drawer slot, so that the 'given' and 'guess' pieces can be held apart. They just float freely in the drawer and can be removed for ease of access.
Step 4: Paint the Pieces
I hand-painted every piece in one of nine colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, gray, and black. I used rainbow colors because an important part of sudoku is counting through the values to check whether you have any doubles or missing ones in a given set. With a rainbow color setup, it's easy to remember the colors in order and go through them to check which is missing. I tried to mix the paints to achieve a sort of rich, hopefully-sophisticated-looking array of colors rather than a traditional and possibly-garish rainbow assortment.
Each piece took two or more coats, as the darkened edges from the laser cutter would show through a single coat of paint. This process probably took as long as the entire woodworking portion. I watched a lot of science channel programming.
Step 5: Seal the Pieces
Once they were coated I shook them all free from the newspaper and let them cure on a fresh sheet. Somehow my finish ended up very slightly tacky, so sometimes the pieces stick to each other or the board a bit. I guess there are more appropriate finishes than what I used, you might want to research boardgame finishes a bit more thoroughly than me.
Step 6: Play Sudoku!
In the picture, I set up a very easy puzzle for testing. You can see that there are a lot of non-square 'given' pieces. It's pretty interesting to play with colors instead of numbers, as you can really take advantage of your visual system. If you look at the filled-out board and think 'all yellows', suddenly you can see where they are all at once. It's immediately obvious when a row is missing a yellow, or you have two in the same section. This is easier with brighter colors, and it's important that the colors all look different. The orange and red, as well as the blue and purple on my board are sometimes hard to tell apart.
This was a very time-consuming project, from planning through execution. I think the final product is pretty cool though, and my dad loves it. If anyone is interested in making something related to this, don't hesitate to get in touch with questions! Thanks for looking!