Introduction: Old Country Store Peg Game

The kid was going back to school after winter break and I wanted her to have on hand some stocking stuffers for friends. It was also to pass on something to the friends that hitched a ride back on the previous break.

On that trip we stopped for lunch at the Cracker Barrel restaurant. They have never been to such a place. They were intrigued with playing the peg game that the restaurant leaves on the table for you to pass the time while your food is prepared. You can purchase the game in the adjoining gift shoppe but it is simple enough to make, I previously made a version of the game board because it is fun and challenging to play.

Don’t cheat and look up the algorithm to win it. Use your noggin and exercise those neurons waiting for something to do.

Batteries not included or needed.

Step 1: Nom Nom Wood Sandwich...

Ok, there might not be such a thing as nom nom wood. Don't chew on your pencil, possible lead poisoning...

I had purchased online a bunch of extra long golf tees (3 1/4 inch) which was delivered right before the holiday rush. You need 14 pegs or golf tees for a game board.

I knew I wanted to use a piece of poplar wood as the faceplate with all the holes to make it a little more neater than drilling out pine. It’s slightly more expensive but not as expensive as hardwoods such as oak, maple, cherry… I was going to stain/poly finish it later on so poplar is popular for woodworking.

I used a thin 1/4 inch thick board as a face veneer for a core piece of 1 x 6 pine(which is actually 3/4 inch by 5 1/2 inch when milled down and kiln dried to a nice piece of bare lumber/timber)

I had a piece of hardboard laying around so I will use that as the backer or bottom piece of the wood sandwich.

I first wanted to glue and laminate the face layer with the middle core. I was going to make 6 game boards so I went with the whole board which was enough to make the 6 game boards. I clamped everything up and saw that the board had started warping unevenly at various points from the moisture it had absorbed from the glue.

You can never have enough clamps…

I kept an eye on it while the glue dried and not liking what I saw, I decided I could still pry apart the two pieces and redo the glue-up with cut smaller pieces so I don't end up with gaps in between the layers. Use a wet paper towel to wipe up the excess glue that squeezes out.

So from experience in making this

I printed out a pattern or template of where the holes should be drilled. I marked them out using an awl punching a small dimple for the drill point to seat in. The wood was a bit tougher than soft pine so I went to darken in the dimples with a pencil.

I was going to break out the drill press but i wanted to stick more to hand-tools. I set up my portable drill guide on the cordless drill. Have a spoil board or scrap piece of wood under the board you are drilling through. The holes can be drilled all the way through since we will add on a bottom stopper cover plate. Besides, depth stop collars on drills and that drill guide attachment can wander off when used.

I selected a drill bit that allowed the golf tee to fit in and out smoothly. I used something that was a tiny bit oversized because there was not a better size in my incremental size drill bit set, maybe a metric size? I did try to sharpen my countersink bit from the last project with some diamond dust needle files. It worked marginally better to put a chamfer on the entrance of the drilled holes. I think it may be time to buy a real countersink bit.

I cut pieces of hardboard roughly to size to be the bottom layer. You can score hardboard with a fairly deep cut or several passes of the utility knife and then snap it apart. They were then glued to the drilled board pieces. I thought the patterned texture on one side would make an interesting bottom layer face. The other side was slick so I scratched it up with a utility knife for a better gluing surface. Stack the glued pieces up and put a weight on top to clamp them till they are dry.

Step 2: These Feets Are Made for Feeting...

I used a surform tool, Japanese handsaw, slickplane edge rounding tool, reciprocating saw blade handsaw, utility knife, anything to trim the excess hardboard close to the finish edge for sanding. Sanding by hand...

I used 60 grit coarse and 120 grit medium sandpaper to sand everything down. Get the good stuff, the paper wears/folds well and the grit is adhered well to the paper. Find a small scrap of wood to use as a sanding block. Round off the edges to grip and use comfortably.

The edges on the game board were rounded for a nicer feel when handled.

All of this could be done production-wise by running it through a planer, jointer or router to trim and smooth the edges. The top face edges could be made fancier with a nice classic router shape.

Make a template on where to drill mounting holes for the rounded wood plug feet.

I needed to use a spade bit to make the 1/2 inch mounting holes for the button feet. It would be nicer to do this with a flat bottomed Forstner bit in a drill press. I did have to scrape out a few holes with the tip of a utility knife because it wasn't drilled deep enough to fit the plug as I gauged everything by eye. Fill the mounting hole with glue and glue in da feet.

At this point I glued on some instruction stickers I made up. I made the instruction sticker itself, not the instructions on the instruction sticker. I added the school logo to the instruction sticker to personalize it even more.

Evenly spread a thin layer of glue on the back of the printed instructions. Apply to the game board and gently coax it into position. Paper will tear and printed text will rub off easily when saturated with glue. Press out all of the air bubbles to the side.

Step 3: Seal the Deal...

When all the glued parts are dry, do a final sanding of everything.

Wipe with a slightly damp rag to pick up all the sanding dust.

I have this big can of water-based stain/poly finish that I am trying to finish off. It's probably going on for a year or two. You might notice that the spoil board used for drilling was the off result from using a really old can of IKEA water-based finish that was so old it curdled in the can but I still tried it after mixing. By the way, it still is difficult to find water-based finishes in the big box home centers. They might only have them in the bigger stores, not many color choices(one might be the custom mix but then you gotta go to the custom mix counter...), they take a few more coats to get the equivalent look of oil-based finishes but the no-fumes thing and soap-water cleanup is a winner.

Start with either the top or bottom. Wait till one side dries enough to flip it over and coat the other side. Watch out for drips that may accumulate on the sides or edges. I gave it two coats and sanded lightly. I then gave it two coats more. Inspect, sand out any uneven areas, and re-coat or touch up any missed spots.

When everything is dry, it's tee time. Break out the golf tees and cucumber sandwiches.

Portion out the golf tees for each gift and test that the pegs will fit. See if you can up your score by playing the game with randomly placed pieces.


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