Introduction: Super Compact Travel Cribbage Set

About: I am a British chap living in China. Watch this space for half-baked ideas and dubious innovation. Often aided and abetted by my power-tool wielding daughter.

After using a pen and paper to keep Cribbage scores for a long time, an upcoming vacation seemed like the perfect opportunity for a project to create the ultimate compact cribbage set.

What follows is the process we went through. It is likely yours will differ, but the guidelines should be helpful.

We welcome any comments (and if you like it, please vote for us in the Travel Contest!), Thanks!

Searching online we found thousands of elaborate cribbage boards, but very little in the way of really practical portable boards. The requirements are very straightforward - as small and light as possible whilst still being robust enough to protect the cards and not too fiddly to keep score.

The vast majority of boards are made in wood, but this seems to add unnecessary bulk, so we looked at other options to create our box/board

What you will need:


pack of cards

plastic, wood, bamboo or metal box that is big enough to hold the pack of cards

bamboo skewer 3mm diameter

2-3mm internal diameter silicon tubing

5-7mm internal diameter silicon tubing

drill with 3mm twist drill bit

bradawl or other sharp implement

computer drawing software and printer

coloured sharpies

Step 1: Locating a Suitable Box

OK - so we didn't make the box.

I felt sure that there would be something suitable out there, and through a process of lateral thinking and exhaustive searching found this.

It is a fishing fly box made from (I think) ABS.

I was initially looking for something in aluminium or maybe brass. I thought about fishing fly boxes as these are intended to be compact and robust and are often around the size of a pack of playing cards.

This one is ideal and only cost $3US. It has a magnetic closure and a strong hinge.

These boxes typically have foam inserts to hold the flies.

First step is to pull out the flies and foam inserts and give them to your brother to go and bother some fish.

In the picture you can also see some pop rivets. We initially intended to use these as the pegs for the board.

In the end we opted for another solution as you will find out as you join us on this journey...

Step 2: Design Your Pegging Pattern

As mentioned before cribbage boards come in all shapes and sizes.

The pattern that the pegs travel along is typically a up and down a series of tramlines.

We wanted to make something more interesting. My daughter made this design with two letter B's facing each other (the first letter of her name). I thought this looked great.

We measured the box and the pegs that we were intending to use and she made a sketch design on paper.

Step 3: Transfer Your Design to Computer

Using the paper design as a guide, we transferred the image to computer.

This allowed us to layout the holes for the pegs in a regular pattern.

I did this in Illustrator, but I am sure other drawing programmes would work just as well.

After making the shape that we wanted with the line tool, I converted this to a 'dashed line' in the stroke dialogue.

Setting the dash to 0.5mm and the gap to 6mm gave us a series of dots 6.5mm apart which we estimated was just enough to get the 3mm pegs in and out without too much bother.

It quickly became clear that the original B shape we made wouldn't have sufficient space, so we adapted this as shown.

A cribbage board typically has 121 holes to correspond to the number of points in a standard game.

There was no way that we were going to fit this number of holes in our board, so we opted for 60 holes in the main pegging area plus two holes where the pegs start and four holes to be marked by a third peg showing the number of times a player has gone around the board.

By tweaking the distances between the holes we quite quickly managed to get the layout we wanted.

We then printed out the design and glued it to the surface of the box ready for drilling.

There is a .pdf of our layout attached. You are welcome to use this, but I imagine you will make your own layout to match the size of box you have.

Step 4: Drill Your Holes

Clamp your box onto a scrap piece of wood (as the drill will go right through to this).

Use a bradawl or some kind of sharp implement to mark the position of each hole. This will help locate the drill bit.

Wear safety specs

Drill each hole to a clearance diameter of your peg. For us this was 3mm.

Clean up the holes (inside) with sandpaper or emery cloth.

Step 5: Make Your Pegs

We had originally planned to use pop-rivets for our pegs.

These are quite often used for homemade boards as they are a good size and a lot of people have them lying around.

Testing them with our drilled holes it seemed that they were less than ideal as they overlapped slightly making it harder to remove the trailing peg.

Searching for another solution, we found these bamboo skewers lying around.

They are just under 3mm diameter. Using a piece of emery cloth, we put a slight taper on the end to make it easier to locate them in the peg board.

Bamboo is also very absorbent, so the pegs readily took colour from a sharpie as shown.

To create a collar for the pegs and to make them easier to grip, we finished each one with a short section of tubing. This is a translucent silicone tube, but any kind of rubber tubing around 2-3mm internal diameter should work fine. If you don't have any suitable tubing lying around, there are lots of alternative solutions: you could use a blob of hot glue; sugru; wrap some cord around etc....

Step 6: Peg Holder

I have lots of silicone tubing for use in various projects.

We also found a use for it here to make the peg holders. We were worried about the pegs flying out of the box when it was opened so we took a length of tubing and cut a slit lengthwise that allows the pegs to be held securely inside.

Step 7: Peg Away!

This is the finished travel cribbage set!

The only other addition are some coloured blobs (made with a sharpie) to indicate the start hole and then the intervals of 10 points. This makes it easier to calculate scores during a game.

It turned out really well and now we are looking forward to lots of cribbage matches on the plane, at the airport, on the train, at the beach etc.

NB1: This instructable has not gone into any detail about how to score Cribbage. For that you should look into the rules of the game, for which scoring is integral. Essentially, each player has two pegs which 'leapfrog' each other every time a score is made. The trailing peg will therefore always display the previous score.

NB2: Although this is described as a Cribbage Set, the leapfrog scoring method can be used for many other card and board games. We have used this board for scoring both Scrabble and Piquet.

Have fun making your own travel cribbage set!

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