How I Made the Great Game of Qwirkle Even Better!

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Introduction: How I Made the Great Game of Qwirkle Even Better!

About: Woodworking gadget fan, photographer, husband, cyclist, kayaking SUP riding real ale drinker. More of this stuff is over at my Instagram.

I'll start off by saying that Qwirkle is a brilliant game, very simple rules but requires concentration to score well and win. If you enjoy a fun game that requires some thinking, this is for you πŸ‘

Supplies

1 x Qwirkle game
1 x Router, ideally mounted in a table
Appropriate sized router bit or bits in my case (more info to follow)
Wood glue, I used Gorilla
5 Minute epoxy glue, again I used Gorilla
Ohhh, don't forget the 432 magnets, I bought mine from www.first4magnets.com

Step 1: The Problem & the Brainwave.

The problem (as I saw it) is that the pieces when laid don't always line up correctly, they can get knocked out of alignment very easily and when you're trying to slot a piece into a gap somewhere all sorts of non-alignment carnage can ensue.
Now I do realize that I can be more than a little picky at times but this does bother me.

But I had a brainwave, 'I know, I'll just add magnets'...

I did a little working out (sketch) just to check that no matter the order of placement a North Pole would always line up with a South Pole. I'm pleased to say my thinking was correct.

Step 2: Magnet Choice

One of my concerns about adding the magnets was that as you move a piece into place the other pieces would move to meet the new piece.
With this in mind I went for one of the smallest magnets I could find that would still have enough strength to hold the played pieces in place.
The Qwirkle pieces are 12 mm (0.47 inch) wide, so I went for a 4 mm (0.16 inch) round magnet as this would give plenty of space either side of the routed hole. On the website I was searching there were three different thicknesses, I went for the 1 mm (0.039 inch), there are then two different strengths, N42 or N35 I went for the slightly lower strength N35 version.

This is the exact magnet I went for 4 mm diameter x 1 mm thick N35 Neodymium Magnet, with 0.16 kg Pull
As this was a complete guess I'm very pleased to say that this strength was perfect.

Step 3: Making the Router Jig

For repeatability but more importantly safety I decided to make a quick jig for routing out the holes.
In my router table I have a T track which I used to secure a piece of 5 mm (0.2 inch) plywood over the router, to make the hole in the plywood I raised the router up through the ply while turned on. This makes sure the bit is perfectly centred.
Next was to mark up and attached the guides for the locator, this was done by measuring the pieces width and depth and marking that out on the ply.
I used some pieces of thinker ply offcuts as the surrounds, these were stuck down using Gorilla wood glue.

Step 4: This Is Where the Madness Starts...

With 108 individual Qwirkle pieces there are 432 sides that need routing.
This is where I made my first mistake, I originally tried using an 8 mm (0.31 inch) router bit but this was way too big and allowed for too much inaccuracy in the magnet placement. Thankfully I checked this before routing out too many pieces only doing 7.
I changed the router bit out for a 6 mm (0.24 inch) one, this was much better for magnet placement accuracy but had a different issue. The cutter has a blade on each side but these don't meet in the middle, leaving a small nubbin in the centre of the hole. This meant that after routing out 432 sides I had to change out for a 3.2 mm (0.13 inch) bit and re-route all 432 side again.
The trick here was to make sure that the face of the piece was always facing towards myself, this ensured the hole was always in exactly the same place. After all, the most important part about this whole thing was making the pieces line up when played.

Step 5: Madness Part 2... Glueing

With all 864 routing passes done it was now time for the glue up.
This took more than a bit of practice but check out the video for the final process.
Firstly I aligned all the magnets so they were all north to south, this meant I was able to take one off the bottom of the stack and know it was correctly orientated.
Next mix up a blob of two part epoxy.
The procedure was then as follows...
1. Use a match to pick up a spot of epoxy and deposit it in the routed hole.
2. Slide a magnet off the bottom of the stack.
3. Maintaining the polarization of the magnet, stick it to the metal stick.
4. Smush the magnet into the glue. Keeping the angle of the stick low, quickly pull the stick away leaving the magnet in the glue.
5. Use a non-metal stick to move the magnet around to make sure it's centred in the hole. At this point I also tried to move some glue to cover the top of the magnet.
6. Set the piece to one side... Repeat...

Make sure after you've glued the magnet in place don't put the pieces too close. I failed to do this and a couple of the magnets managed to jump between the pieces before the glue had cured. Keeping them a minimum of 80 mm (3.15 inch) apart should be fine.

I marked one side of the piece and the opposite side with a yellow dot, both of these sides had the same polarization magnets. I then turned the magnet stack round to flip the polarization and repeated the gluing process for the other 216 magnets.

One of the issues was the adding of the magnets wasn't the quickest thing to do, as a result I was sometimes only able to do between 8 - 12 pieces before the epoxy cured.

With the amount of pieces, glueing and full curing time this whole process took a couple of days, on and off.

Step 6: Penultimate Stage.

After all the glue had fully cured there were a few (more than a few) pieces that had a bit of glue overspill. As the whole reason for doing this was to neatly align all the pieces during play this needed cleaning off. It was actually quite easy to do, using a sharp chisel to pick off the excess glue.

Once all the pieces were cleaned up I then checked the polarity of all the magnet placements. To do this I drilled a couple of holes in a scrap of wood and inserted one north up and one south up magnets. I then passed all sides of every piece over each scrap wood magnet.
Video 1 (green star) shows what should happen, two opposing side stick to one magnet and the other two sides stick to the other.
Video 2 (orange circle) shows what happens when I got one of the magnets wrong. Thankfully of all the 432 magnets I only got 4 flipped over, 1% error... I'll take it.

Step 7: Final Stage.

The final and best stage... Getting to play 'Magnet Qwirkle'...

The first feedback was from my darling wife... "I don't like it, it's stupid, why did you ruin our game..." I don't think she was pleased.

We were playing one of our regular games with my mum and dad, their feedback was more positive.
After playing three games thankfully my wife had changed her mind, her final comment was a little more positive "OK, I quite like it".

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    28 Comments

    0
    procter
    procter

    4 months ago

    Great work, thanks.
    I'm making a grandchild-friendly, all-purpose, largish, game tray with a tin-plate-on-wood skin so that individual pieces are independent, and still secure enough that they won't move out of place.
    Neodymium magnets are powerful so need to be sized practically, but strong enough so they will still be effective when a game-background sheet is interposed.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thank you.
    Getting the correct strength of the magnets was the tricky bit. Too strong and the pieces jump out of position, too weak and they don't stick together well enough. Post some pictures when you're finished.

    0
    cube-convict
    cube-convict

    5 months ago

    Why the router instead of a drill press with depth stop and a jig for placement?

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Best Answer 5 months ago

    The main reason is that it can easily be done with a single movement, take the piece, slot it between the guides and press down onto the router, lift and rotate 90ΒΊ press down again and repeat.
    IMO, using a drill press would have taken longer.

    0
    Gwizzz
    Gwizzz

    5 months ago

    We love Qwirkle too.
    I thought of a way to prevent N-N or S-S repulsion between pieces. Why not mount magnets side-ways so you have clockwise pointed magnets? Always attracted to next piece! :


    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    Hmmm, I'll have to have a think about the magnets side-ways. I'm not sure mounting them on the edge would work because of the magnetic fields of a disc magnet. Attaching them to the playing pieces would also be harder.

    mp-discmagnet.jpg
    0
    ewinesett
    ewinesett

    5 months ago

    My wife and I enjoy Qwirkle and I admit to constantly straightening the pieces as we play. I'm not sure I would go through all of this trouble to fix it; however, I suspect epoxy is overkill and that another glue would reduce the time and complexity of the project. Given the magnet is recessed into the wood, cyanoacrylate or even white PVA might suffice.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    Qwirkle is such a good game but you're right, the non straight pieces drive me mad.
    It was a more than a pain to 'fix' but in the end it was worth it. We have since played with friends who have Qwirkle 'without magnets'... It's barbaric 🀣
    The epoxy was nessasary, i tied CA glue but it didn't like the combination of the wood and metal.

    0
    Mad4400
    Mad4400

    5 months ago

    That router jig was a very clever and safe way to process such a large number of small pieces. Thanks for the idea, that is going to make a routing job I need to do so much easier. It's just what I needed.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thank you, it was relatively quick and very safe.
    I'm glad I've given you some ideas for your job

    0
    SY7
    SY7

    5 months ago on Step 7

    This is brilliant!!!!

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thank you, I was very pleased with how it came out

    0
    knackster
    knackster

    5 months ago

    For starters, you are ****ing insane and brilliant at the same time. LOVE this idea. Now, how about doing this mod to Qwirkle Cubes????

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    It started as a good ideal but I think you could be right, it was a little insane.
    Qwirkle cubes... That's 90 cubes so 540 magnets, now that is insane

    0
    Mr Gloom
    Mr Gloom

    5 months ago

    Very nice ... I didn't know the game yet ... let's see if I can find it here in Germany. The thing with the magnets is a very good idea, by the way

    0
    Mr Gloom
    Mr Gloom

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thx. i will take a look..

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    5 months ago

    I love puzzles and am told that I am very patient. You have got me beat by a mile. I am glad it turned out for you. May you get many years of play from this project.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 5 months ago

    It really was a test of my patient, each step was easy enough but there was just so much repetition, 108 pieces so 436 side.
    The other issue I got caught with, if the glue wasn't completely set, if the pieces got to close together the magnets would move or worse jump 😒
    It really is a great game, with or without magnets.

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 5 months ago

    I have never seen the game until now. It looks a little like a board game version of Uno/Dominoes. If your glue was not completely set, did you have a problem with an adjacent magnet pulling out?