Introduction: Building a Big Jenga Game

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Jenga is a fun game and by oversizing the pieces you can use them as actual blocks, or for the Jenga game. Make sure to check out the video for all the steps!

Step 1: Milling the Wood

Jenga is a game that require 54 wooden blocks and I decided to make them out of red oak which I happened to have on hand. Here's a rough sawn piece that I'm milling up, first on the jointer, and then moving on to the planer. And I think oak is a good choice for this project because each piece feels hefty and substantial, especially in the hands of kids, and the feel of this wood is very unlike you know plastic or lighter woods like pine or fur.

Step 2: Cutting to Size

Now, according to jenga rules, each block is about three times as long as it is wide and one fifth as thick as its length. Going by these guidelines, I made the blocks 1 x 1.9 x 5.7 inches.

Step 3: Routing

Once I had the pieces cut up, I routed all the edges. And one thing about oak is it can be pretty splintery, and I didn't want to just sand the pieces because sometimes that doesn't remove all the splinters effectively, whereas the router does. And I did some tests, because I wanted the pieces routed, however I didn't want them to be so round so it was difficult to stand them up, if you were using these pieces as blcoks. So I pulled back a bit on the router, to just get them lightly routed.

Another thing, this is a lot of routing. There are 12 edges per piece, with a total of 54 pieces - in other words 648 passes. So pretty monotonous work, so you want to make sure you have a good rigid position set up, don't be spontaneous when you have that many to do. And don't do them all in one batch, because it's really easy to get lost in thought when you have that many and the router can be such a dangerous tool if you don't pay close attention. Also, I was very glad I had this sawstop pushstick or whatever you call it, because it made it a lot safer and more stable to route the short sides of all the pieces. But I was thinking that if I was going to make a lot of these sets, then I would probably set up like four different routing stations for the different sides and really get an assembly line going.

Step 4: Sanding & Finishing

Next step is sanding the pieces smooth and then finishing them. I decided to go with shellac because it's a natural material and it dries quickly.

Step 5: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a better perspective, make sure to watch the video that goes over all the steps!