Introduction: Tak Game Pieces (Hand Tools Only)

Tak is a game played in Patrick Rothfuss' "King Killer Chronicles" and was later adapted to a real game by Cheapass games. They provide a lot of information on Tak set pieces, as well as rules, and printable boards.

Rules sheet with Pieces Dimensions can be found HERE

Printable boards HERE

The general gist is you will need pieces of two colors(flat stones), they will need to be placed lying down and standing up, and each color gets a larger more ornate piece called a capstone. The number of pieces is dependent on the board size but the most needed is 25 flat stones per color.

This instructable is how I made my own Tak set using only hand tools. It can be easily adapted for power tools as well.


Hand Tool only build:

  1. Wood strips or Dowels
  2. Hand Plane
  3. Miter Box
  4. Hand saw.
  5. Rasps
  6. V-Gouge (optional)
  7. Sand Paper

Step 1: Shaping First Set of Pieces

The pieces can be as ornate or simple as you desire. I chose for the white flat stones to be similar in shape to the ones listed in the rules. I had a lot of ash on the property that I had recently cut down so I split off a a small stave and then drew the desired shape on the end. It is important your stave is long enough to cut all your pieces from, so if you are doing 20 1/4 inch pieces ensure the length is at least 5 inches and add some for the kerf. I went much longer so as to have spare pieces should need arrive.

I then started shaping the full length to the desired shape.

For this I used a hand plane a spoke shave and a sand paper. You are in control here as to how exacting you want these to be to one another. During play you will stack them but they will be mixed with stones of the opposing color as well. I had a lot to remove so I had the shape relatively consistent down the length. In picture you can see how I drew the desired shape and then shaved down to that, and I would sight the length to make sure I was staying relatively consistent.

It is important to smooth the exterior at this point It is much easier to smooth this stave rather than try to sand edges of each individual flat stone.

Step 2: Cutting Pieces

This section is where almost ALL of your time is spent. It is tedious.

After the rod is completed the pieces can be cut. I did some testing to find a thickness that felt good to me and used a stop in the miter box. I did have issues with it slipping and added a second clamp.

I used a pull saw for this as the blow out side is supported by the miter box so it should leave a relatively neat edge. This will reduce clean up later.

Speaking of clean up each piece will need sanding after completion. I sanded the faces then knocked the corners off. I used 80grit just to get an saw splintering off, then 120 and 220 to smooth the face. I then used just the 220 to round the corner as well.


If using power tools a bandsaw with a guide would make cutting the pieces out much faster!

Also using a sander of any kind would speed up the clean up process.

Step 3: Repeat for Second Set

Two previous steps need to be repeated for the second set of flat stones.

I chose to get an oak dowel to speed this process up.

I used my plane to put a flat on the dowel so it could stand and make cutting easier.

I then sanded the dowel, cut the pieces, and sanded the faces. Just like previous set.

Hindsight: I would not recommend using an oak dowel The end grain was very porous and left a weird look. I would look for something with a prettier end grain structure.

Step 4: Capstones

This is the fun part. as you can make and shape an interesting cap stone for each color. The capstone has options the flat stones do not and can not have a flat stone placed on it. So I chose a rounded top.

I cut off some remnants of the rods (Ash and Oak) and then carved distinct capstones. The Oak I made look more organic and kind of mushroom like. I used a gouge, rasp, and sand paper. The Ash I wanted to look like a castle tower. I used a v-gouge and sand paper and tried to maintain the shape of the rod.

According to the rule sets these can be pretty ornate and this was the funnest part of the project.

Step 5: Finishing

For finishing the pieces I wanted something that would feel good in the hand. I thought wooden cutlery has that smooth texture and gives a good tactile feel so I went with butcher block mineral oil and wax compound. This would also not affect coloring at all.

White pieces simply had a coat worked in and had a lovely feel. I think as they are handled as well that will help give them an even better feel.

For the dark pieces I applied 3x coats of walnut stain. I did a lot of testing here with other stains before going with this. I tried a red mahogany but wasn't a fan of the coloring, I tried danish oil but color change wasn't dramatic enough, applied 1-3 coats on different pieces of the walnut and liked that. So long as you can tell one color piece from the other that is all that matters. After staining I did a similar butcher block finish and hand polished everything with a rag.

Final assembly is in a box that I had which happened to be the EXACT size needed.

I included a print out of a 6x6 board, print out of the fancy instructions, and a note so I could ship it to my brother for Christmas. I wasn't planning on making this into an instructable but I couldn't find much information on making my own set and thought someone might find it useful. I hope to make a board and carrying case for this in the future and if I do I will ensure to do a better job with documentation. Hope someone finds this helpful!

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