Introduction: 80s Block Game - Number Rumba

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion of…

My friend wanted to buy a game for her brother for Christmas but it has become very rare recently and so she asked if I could make her a version of it instead. It's an old game from the 80s which she used to play with her family as a child called Number Rumba. I had some oak and sapele offcuts from a carpenter that I used to make the game.

There's a video of the build on YouTube and more detailed instructions below.

Step 1: Tools and Materials


- Pencil and rule

- Combination square

- Marking gauge

- Brace and 12mm auger bit (or drill)

- 6mm bit

- Wood chisels

- Mallet

- Square file

- Clamp

- Smoothing plane

- Tenon saw and rip saw (or table saw)

- Knife

- Dowel plate

- Paintbrush


- Oak and sapele offcuts

- 120 grit sandpaper

- Three different colours of enamel paint

- Wood varnish

Step 2: Cutting the Base and Blocks

I cut the sapele for the base to the size shown on the plans and then the 18 blocks of oak to the size shown. The marking gauge is very helpful in this respect not only to create a cut for reference but also for repeat measurements.

I used a rip saw to cut down the length of the oak and then planed the sides square and to the correct dimensions. A tenon saw was used to cut the 18 individual pieces.

Step 3: Making Holes in the Blocks

Finding the centre of the blocks was very easy, just drawing from corner to corner finds the centre. I then used a 12mm auger bit to drill halfway through from one side and halfway through from the other to avoid breakout. A chisel was then used to square up the holes.

Step 4: Making the Pegs

Once the blocks were made I knew I needed the pegs to be 12mm square, then I could just sand or plane them little by little until the blocks slid down them well. After using a marking gauge to mark them up and then ripping them with a large tenon saw I made a small jig to speed up the planing process. This just involved two little "walls" for the plane to ride on and a screw to stop the peg from moving.

Step 5: Cutting Out the Peg Holes

Once I had the blocks and pegs all cut out I was able to work out where the pegs would go into the bases. To do this I just laid them onto the base to see where they looked best placed and traced lines inside the holes onto the base. I then squared all the holes up and marked each side with a knife cut. Chiselling out the material to about 1 - 1.5cm deep seemed to do the trick. Then it was just a case of gluing the pegs into the peg holes and making sure they were square to the base while doing so.

Step 6: Painting the Blocks and Adding Numbers

I used some enamel paints by Rustoleum to paint the blocks which were listed as ideal for toys and they were wonderful. I didn't use any primer and it took about 2 or 3 coats to give them a glossy, shiny look. After they had dried for a day I made three templates, one for each number, and used a permanent marker to draw the numbers on.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

I used some hard wearing interior varnish on the bases and also on a small tray I made to store the bases inside. I didn't want to include it in this instructable for fear of making it too long winded! But there's footage of the tray on my YouTube video.

It was a fairly simple build but I don't think I'll be wanting to cut 18 blocks again anytime soon!

Thanks for having a look and please send any comments, criticisms or general greetings my way.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

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Homemade Gifts Contest 2017