Grown-up Battleship




Introduction: Grown-up Battleship

About: Engineer, carpenter, builder, writer. I am studying Civil Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I am focusing on water resources, but I am passionate about woodworking.

Have you ever thought about the game you played as a child and thought, “How can I add an adult twist?” There have been plenty of different versions around the internet, but I decided to use my love of woodworking to create a unique twenty-first birthday gift. This instructable details the steps I used to turn this childhood game into a more adult version.


I do not recommend playing with alcoholic beverages, especially if you are under the legal age. In this version, there are 17 2oz glasses per side. Seventeen shots of hard alcohol in the time span of a game (roughly 35 minutes) will be deadly. If you choose to play with alcohol, I recommend playing the game slowly with low-alcohol-percentage beverage.

Step 1: Materials

Every good project starts with ideas that need to be transferred to paper. While figuring out dimensions on paper is an iterative process of deciding what size each piece should be, there are some things the computer can do much faster than breaking out the slide rule. I used AutoCAD to sketch out the boats and figure out the hole dimensions for the boats. In this case, I measured the mini-cups and drew their dimensions. Based on my cups, drilling with a 1.5” Forsner bit at a depth of ¾” would provide a snug fit for a cup with a 2” upper diameter, 1.25” lower diameter, and approximately 2” height. (Side note, the small Dixie© cups fit in the 1.5" holes too.)

In any case, I have provided layouts for 1.5”, 1.375”, and 1.25” diameter holes for the boats, so hopefully one of these sizes will work for your project.

The dimensioning of the whole project is based around 2” wide boats. This means the grid should be a 10x10 with 2” squares, for a total of 20” by 20”.

   • 2: ½” Plywood (2’x2’ Project Panel)
   • 1: ¾” Plywood (2’x2’ Project Panel)
   • 2: 1x2 board 8’ (Alternatively 3: 1x2 board 6’)
   • 1: 2x6 board stud or 8’

Necessary Tools
   • Jigsaw
   • Drill
   • Forsner Bit (sized for your project, see step 1)
   • 1” screws
   • Paint & Brushes

Optional / might make project easier & nicer
   • Table Saw
   • Miter Saw
   • Band Saw
   • Sandpaper
   • Wood filler
   • Kreg Pocket-hole Jig
      o 1 ¼” pocket-hole screws
   • Clamps
   • Router with ½” Roundover bit
   • Chalkboard Paint (Or dry erase board paint)

After rounding up or purchasing the materials on the list, cut each piece down to size.

   ½” Plywood: 22” by 22”
   ¾” Plywood: 22” by 24”
   1x2 Boards: Four (4) 22” & (4) 20.5”
   2x6 Board: Two (2) 5”, Four (4) 7”, Two (2) 9”, Two (2) 11”

Step 2: Handle Grip

Adding a hand hold to the plywood makes the game portable, but this is an optional step. It does add a nice touch to the game.

The template provided below can be used to size the hand grip for somewhat large hands, but adjust your measurements as necessary.

Measure and mark to the middle of the 22” side of the plywood. Be sure to leave approximately ¾” to prevent the handle from breaking. When folded up, the boat boxes should leave approximately 2” of the center plywood sticking out.

Using a drill with the Forsner bit or a large regular drill bit; remove the material inside the finger section of the handle. Next, use a jigsaw to straighten up the lines. Running a router with ¼” or ½” roundover bit over the edges improves the feel of the handle.

Also, I have attached an alternative for using 3/4" plywood as the center divider for those with access to a greater variety of tools. Instead of plywood as the center, this process uses a 2x6 and 1x2s to frame in a hardboard piece. Just a little bonus!

Step 3: Paint!

At this point, paint the ¾” plywood with chalkboard paint or dry erase paint. Alternatively, you can paint it with regular paint and use the grid layout attached here to mark where you have fired. Other ideas to mark where you've shot: Magnetic paint & magnets, Velcro & fabric dots.

I think it is easier to paint the rest of your lumber (minus the boats) at this point. It is easier to add the lines to the ½” plywood now rather than trying to draw a straight line inside the box. A clever idea is to paint the bottom of the boat boxes blue for water and the two opposing sides different colors.

Use a straight edge to create lines on the 22” by 22” plywood after the paint has dried. The grid was sized for 2” wide boats, so the final grid should be 20” by 20”. Assuming your boat box bottom is 22", laying out the lines at odd numbers (1, 3, 5, etc.) gives a 10x10 grid with room to spare on the outside.

The top row should be marked A through J and the left column should be marked 1 through 10. This makes it easy to locate B6 when it is called during a fast pace battle!


Step 4: Boat Box Building

Next construct the frame for the first boat box. Drill pocket holes on both ends of the 20.5” 1x2’s. Attach them to the 22” pieces using 1 ¼” pocket-hole screws to form a frame. Alternatively, use butt joints with screws or nails if you don’t have a pocket hole system or use your preferred style of joinery to make the frame (keeping in mind the length of the 1x2s may be different).

Check that the frame is square by measuring diagonals. The two diagonal lengths should be the same length if your frame is square. Dry fit the piece over the 22” by 22” plywood to ensure the pieces are the same size.

Glue the bottom side of the frame and clamp it to the 22” by 22” plywood. Nail brads around the edge of the plywood. Alternatively, pre-drill holes in the plywood and attach with 1” screws.

Then rinse and repeat. Build the second boat box just as you built the first one. As you see in the pictures, the painting and building (steps 3 & 4) can be completed in any order. I did a little building, a little painting, and then a little more building.

Step 5: Attaching It All Together

Using the hinges, attach the boat boxes to the plywood. I found it easiest to first attach the hinges to the boat box and then attach it to the plywood. When attaching to the plywood, keep in mind the pin of the hinge should be around 2” from the edge to allow the game to sit flat and fold up nicely.

Step 6: Boat Building

Each template contains one set of boats, so print out at least two copies of whichever template below. The pages below are to scale to be printed on standard letter paper (8.5” by 11”). Ensure your printer’s page scaling feature is off or set at 1:1 or similar.

Start by drilling a pilot hole in the center of the template on your 2x6. It shouldn’t be very deep, but it is helpful for helping start the Forsner bit. Use a drill press or hand drill with the Forsner bit to drill half the depth of the board. The 2x6 is actually 1.5” thick, so drill ¾” deep with the Forsner bit. On the same note, the 2x6 is 5.5” wide, so two boats can be cut out side by side.

Using a bandsaw or jigsaw, cut out the boats from your board. To guide the cut, I recommend one of three options:
   • Go over the template in pen with heavy pressure to create an indent in the wood. Then go over the indent with pencil to make lines visible while cutting.
   • Use carbon paper underneath the template to transfer the lines to the work piece.
   • Tape the template to the piece and cut the on the lines.

At this time, go ahead and paint your boats or finish them however you choose.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Enjoy your new game! Since I made this as a gift that I knew people would see, I had to show off a bit of my routing skills…

Step 8: Working the Wood

As a student, my budget for new toys (I mean tools) is pretty limited. But with just a router, jigsaw, miter saw, and a kreg jig, I think I have turned out some cool projects. I have built a majority of the furniture in my apartment including a side table, a coffee table that doubles as a flag pole (see picture:  remember I’m in college, do the math), bed platform, headboard, and a nightstand.

I have been lurking on the Talk Shopbot forum for a while and making lists of all the projects I want to build. My first five projects once I get out of the “rookie mistakes but it’s okay because I’m learning” phase are: Family Crest, “My Shop” sign that looks like a wrench, Relief map of California from a digital elevation model, diploma frame with interesting joinery, and a heart-shaped box for my mother.

Here are some pictures of my previous projects!

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    I was planning to do an instructable on this lol! You should call it battle shots though :)
    one of the best games ever mixed with alcohol! what could go wrong?