Introduction: Simple DIY Game Boards for Very Young Woodworkers

About: Patrick Waters is an award-winning educator who brings the Maker Movement to new audiences. He founded The STEAMworks, a makerspace for individuals with neurological differences at The Monarch Institute in Ho…

For young children, games aren’t just fun – games provide vital, necessary childhood lessons. Games teach us to deal with loss, how to cooperate, work towards a goal and become devious, clever problem solvers. Games teach us sportsmanship, grit, toughness and grace. Games teach us who we are and ask us to become better versions of ourselves.

This week, we made a quick foldable checkerboard inspired by my youngest child’s love of the game. This basic folding design can expanded and modified to play any board game. Just let your imagination run wild! This project incorporates measuring, marking boards square, using a hand drill and hand saw, and an all natural, no-fuss stain (although it is stinky!). Super quick, super cheap and super easy for young makers between K – 3rd grade.

If you like projects such as these, check out, a blog at the corner of sawdust, education and making.

Step 1: Materials & Tools



  • 1” x 6” x 20” of #2 Common Pine Board available at any big box store.
  • 2 small hinges. These are 1” long with 2 screw holes. Available at the big box hardware stores.
  • #4 – 1/2” wood screws. Really small and they use a #1 Philips head.


  • Black acrylic craft paint.
  • Ground tumeric & used coffee grounds.
  • Paper cups.
  • Paint brush.
  • Blue painter’s tape.
  • Marker or pencil.


  • Combination Square at least 12” long.
  • Hand drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hand saw.
  • Woodworking Vise.

Step 2: Dimensioning

  1. Use the square to measure 11” from one side. Use the square to mark your cut.
  2. Clamping the wood in the vise, saw down the line. If your young person has trouble sawing a straight-ish line, start the cut for them. Check out other tips in teaching young people to saw here.
  3. Repeat process to make another side.

Step 3: Assembly

1) Place the two boards next to each other to form a square.

2) Place your hinges as shown, then mark the holes.

3) Pre-drill with a hand drill and very thin bit (or finish nail), then screw down hinges.

Step 4: Checkerboard Pattern

1) Cover the board with blue masking tape.

2) Using a ruler, mark out an 8” x 8” square, centered on your board.

3) Using a ruler, mark out 1”x1” squares on the board in a checkerboard pattern.

3) ADULT ONLY: Using a utility knife, run over the marked lines, cutting the pattern.

4) Remove the bottom left square. Continue in a checkered pattern.

5) Paint the exposed squares with black paint.

6) Remove the tape mask.

Step 5: Natural Stain for Wood

1) Mix used coffee grounds and turmeric with a slight amount of boiling water.

2) Dribble the resultant sludge all over the project.

3) Wipe down with paper towels & vacuum up with a vacuum. The turmeric WILL STAIN EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES!

4) Let dry.