Exotic Wood Goban





Introduction: Exotic Wood Goban

Build a nice goban with a resonating chamber.

Before jumping in to this project, I suggest reading up a little on board dimensions.

Step 1: Select Your Wood

I chose Purple Heart for the frame and Birdseye Maple for the playing surface. Its all personal preference, but a lighter color playing surface is more traditional.

Step 2: Rough Cut the Frame

The pieces of Purple Heart I got were about twice the thickness I wanted for the frame, so I ripped them on the tablesaw.

Step 3: Plane the Frame

Get them down to thickness using the planer.

Step 4: Cut the Sides of the Frame to Length

Using the tablesaw, cross cut the frame pieces to length. Then set up the saw to do dados. You want to dado the top edge of all the pieces to accomodate the top of the board, I suggest that the top be around 3/8" so that it will actually resonate. I made my top too thick (around 1/2" and it isn't very harmonic.) You also want to dado the bottoms for a piece of 1/8" plywood. Finally you want to dado both ends of two sides of the frame to have it all fit together nicely.

Step 5: Fit and Measure the Frame, Glue Up the Top

Fit all the frame pieces together to get the dimensions of your top and bottom pieces. (just doing the math to figure it out may leave you with gaps between the top and frame.) I bought a plank of Birdseye Maple for my top, so it had to be cut to length and glued together in order to get the square shape. I used biscuit joints for the top, in hopes that it would be stronger and resist warpage better.

Step 6: Cut the Top to Size

Once the glue has dried on the top, use the frame measurements and cut the top to size. Its better to cut it big, then slowly work it down to the perfect fit.

Step 7: Glue the Frame and Top Together

The more clamps the better!

Step 8: Fit the Bottom

Fit the bottom the same way as the top. Then glue it on. You can also use a staple gun if you are impatient like me.

Once the bottom is on and fastened, find the center of it by drawing a line from corner to corner. This is where you will cut the resonating hole like an acoustic guitar.

Step 9: The Hole

Using a compass, draw the diameter of hole you want to cut, then use a drill to start the hole. Break out your reciprocating saw and go to work. You can clean up the edges with the spindle from a spindle sander later.

Step 10: The Grid

Now its time to make the playing surface playable. Start by sanding down the top of the board as smooth as you care to.

An interesting fact about gobans is that the grid is not acutally squares, but rectangles. They are "optical squares" so that when sitting at a goban looking down on it they look like squares due to perspective. I suggest reading about it here before you start marking up the board. I found it invaluable to make a full size version of my grid on a piece of butcher paper before going for it on the board itself.

Once the final dimentions are figured out, transfer them to the board. I chose to make my grid using a veneer trim saw, which is the perfect width to make the scores. The alternative is to use a permanent marker and not score the grid. I kept my lines strait by using a T-square and a clamp on the other end.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

For decoration I added some brass plugs to the corners on two sides. The technical term is a "pinned rabbit joint" Besides decoration, it helps to tell which way to orient the board when playing. To add the plugs, just find a drill bit that is the same diameter as your brass rod, drill the hole and plug it up.

The board should be sanded nice and smooth, removing all spliters etc.

Next step is to choose a finish. I went with a mineral oil finish to bring out the colors of the woods I chose. I decided not to lacquer it, because I want it to breathe.

The final step is to add rubber feet to the corners of the board. This elevates it so that the acoustics work. You can pick these up at a hardware store.



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    32 Discussions

    Finally got those pictures. I made a couple of changes to your outstanding design. I added one drawer on each side to hold the pieces and I routed the top edge. My legs were made of wood and routed to match the top.

    2014-07-06 13.42.44.jpg2014-07-06 13.42.31.jpg2014-07-06 13.42.18.jpg

    Meant to tell you I followed your design and built mine about a year an a half ago. I routed the top edge and put drawers in mine to hold the pieces. I used a Sharpie to mark the lines and they smeared a bit when I put the lacquer finish on. Over all it came out really well. If I can get my wife to take a picture witht he digital camera I will post it later. Thanbks for a great Ible.

    I made this in my woodworking class it took me about a mouth and I love it and all but no one wants to play it becase it can get confuessing

    Can we get a woodworking-to-English dictionary here? what the hell is a dado (and shouldn't it be extinct) or a pinned rabbit joint? *sigh* so much to learn...

    2 replies

    All trades have relevant jargon, it allows workers in these trades to be concisely specific (to each other) about trade-related details, for which ordinary language expressions would be too wordy. So much to learn, indeed! - but omit the sigh - it's a GOOD thing. Curiosity educates us... and here you are, with a computer and probably access to a library, too. Have fun!
    Oh, and actually it's rabbet - or in the U. K., rebate (yep, it means 'cut-back', specifically, in a linear way, like a long step)
    I really must make a goban soon - inspiring, ain't it?

    Ah =) real nice job!!!! :) I will do one of these boards for sure :D

    wh at is PURPLE HEART ? i have a book on how to play go but never played. pete

    That is a beautiful Goban. I've been trying to work up the courage to take on a project like this - but for now, my homemade MDF board is holding up ok :)

    Read the book "The Master of Go" by Yasunari Kawabata if you want to get the flavor of how the game is played by the old masters. People used to be as fanatical about it as football fans are about their sport today. It doesn't explain the rules or strategy, just the human experience, the style, the atmosphere. For example, it will tell you why the "plunk" sound is so important. After reading this book, I fell in love with the game and decided to learn how to play.

    1 reply

    I too read this book -- what a strange coincidence, Ravelgrane. My favorite part: at the start of the Big Game, the players sit and stare at the board for a few hours. The one who is to play first is only considering a handlful of opening moves, but still, you gotta take your time. He then decides on a first move. Instead of plunking his stone down, he writes it on a slip of paper which is put into an envelope and sealed, to be opened at the start of the next match. They take a few months off to think, and then the next match is scheduled. And so on. I'm telling you, this book is a roller-coaster ride.

    The best books I've read about how to learn the rules and strategies of the game are the Ishi Press series of books on Go. They are small paperbacks, easy to carry around, and have excellent illustrations. Also very easy to read.

    does anyone know where i can learn how to play go?

    1 reply

    11 years ago

    This makes me wish I had a woodshop. I am learning Go by using the five volume book set from Janice Kim, which I got on Amazon.

    where does the simple man, (i.e. the people without fancy table-saws, woodworking-garages and such) go to do all this?

    wow. excellent tutorial (everyone: he knows shop safety!) i think ill make this just as an interesting and fun addition to my coffee table, maybe americanize it by stenciling in a checkers pattern on the top. pretty sweet piece!