Transforming a Game From 1861 to a 2021 Board Game

Introduction: Transforming a Game From 1861 to a 2021 Board Game

Transforming a Game"La pipopitte" From 1861 to a 2021 Board Game "CAP iT!"

When I was a little kid - around 10years old - we used to play a game...we didn't even know the name of the game. But this is something we played on rainy days when we had to wait for the bus or our parents to pick us up after school.

All we needed was a piece of paper and something to write with and we were good to go!

I really wanted to turn this old game into a board game and make an Instructable for it.

After some research I found that:

  • the game was/is mostly known as ‘Dots and Boxes’ in English
  • it has seen some remakes before and was played in different sizes and all over the world
  • it was invented by a French mathematician Édouard Lucas back in 1861! (He also studied the Fibonacci sequence.)
  • Back then it was called ‘La Pipopipette

I’ll be making two version of this:

  • The first one we’ll 3D print and use Tinkercad to design it
  • The second I’ll make out of wood with Fusion 360 and CNC or you could do this with a router as well

But before we go designing we’ll make a sketch on paper first, so we have a point of reference for our measurements.

* If you want to skip the design and go straight to making: I've added the STL file for you ;)

Feel free to contact me: @atelier_qube on instagram


You will need:

  • Pen, paper and a ruler of some sort

For the 3D printed version:

  • Tinkercad or any other software to draw in
  • 3D Printer (I'll be using the snapmaker 2.0)
  • Filament

For the wooden version:

    • Piece of wood that's big enough for your board
    • Smaller piece for the 'walls' and 'points'
    • A CNC and the software to design the 3D model and control the CNC *
    • OR a handheld router
    • * (I'll be using Fusion 360 and the snapmaker 2.0 for this)

    Step 1: Drawing and Designing the Board

    When I started this design I had two things to keep in mind.

    • The original version of 1861 was played on a 6x6 (squares) field. Which I wanted to use as a reference of course.
    • The maximum size of my Snapmaker is 220mmx250mm

    Knowing this I could start drawing. I like to start drawing on a piece of paper first because it is fast, you can easily make corrections and afterwards you have a clear point of reference (for the measurements for example) for the software design.

    I started by marking out the maximum area of my board game. (The maximum size of the Snapmaker) Knowing I wanted a 6x6 (squares) playing area I quickly came to an area of about 200mm by 200mm.

    After some thinking and trial and error I came to 10mm by 20mm for the walls, which made for a 190mm by 190mm playing field: PERFECT!.

    To easily start drawing the positions of the walls, I made a little drawing jig out of a piece of cardboard. This also allowed me to align all the positions very easily. Starting with the two centre lines, everything started taking shape pretty fast.

    After I had put all the main parts on paper, I
    started marking out as much of the measurements as I could for future reference; Software design.

    Step 2: 3D Model in Tinkercad for 3D Printing (or Fusion 360, or Any Other Software)

    In this third step I’ll quickly go over some of the details on how I made the 3D model in Tinkercad. Please feel free to adjust the measurements to your situation or likings.

    Go to to start modeling.

    To start I’d like to give three small tips:

    1. Right click and drag to change to viewing angle
    2. Middle mouse click and drag to move to workplane around
    3. And scroll to zoom in and out.
    4. Bonus tip: Look out for the difference between solid (coloured) and hollow (grey) shapes

    Before I start drawing I almost always add the ruler. This allows me to make fine adjustments when it comes to placing objects. And we’ll be doing that a lot in this drawing.

    So... Click the “Ruler” and place it on the bottom left part of the workplane.

    Making the board:

    1: Start by making a box 220mm by 250mm and change the height of it to your liking. I made mine 18mm because I will be making the wooden version out of 18mm birch plywood.

    2: Then we’ll start making the basic shape for the ‘holes’ in our board. We’ll start with two cylinders of 10mm by 10mm that only just touch each other. To add the ‘walls’ in between the two cylinders we’ll drop a box on top and adjust the size to fit perfectly.

    3: Once we have all three shaped we can combine them with the “group” function.

    4: For the ‘holes’ I’ll be going with 10mm by 20mm and a depth of 9mm. (This will be half the height of the ‘walls’ we’ll be making later.

    5: Adjust at what height you want your ‘holes’ to be. For me that’s 9mm off the bottom of the board game.

    6: Start placing all the holes in the right locations based on the sketch you first made. Or feel free to copy my measurements.

    7: Add some decals here and there to make it look even better. I’ve added a V-groove around the playing field and the name of the game to the side.

    8: Once everything looks like you want it, select everything and make it one solid piece with the "group" function. Make sure you check everything before the last step.

    Final step: Final step is to export everything. Since I'll be exporting the file to 'Luban' - the software used by Snapmaker- I'll be going for STL. STL is in any case a good option since most 3D printers can work with STL-files.

    Making the pieces:

    To design the 'walls' I started with the shape of the 'holes'.

    The only thing different is;

    1. we need a solid form!
    2. I made the pieces 1mm smaller to make sure they fit nicely into the board

    Last step:

    Send everything over to the 3D printer and let magic to its thing 😉

    Lessons learned:

    Even though I made this game before, I forgot to add the holes in the centre of the squares to keep track of the points. So make sure you add those to easily keep track of the points while playing 😉

    ** I've added the holes in the centre in the final STL

    Step 3: 3D Model in Fusion 360 for CNC

    Making the board

    Just like in Tinkercad we’ll start by making the basic shape of our board. Create a new sketch and make a 2-point rectangle. First click on the horizontal plane to start sketching. I made mine 250mm by 220mm, just like before. Finish the sketch and click on “Extrude” to give the piece some height. I’ll be making this out of birch plywood so I’ll go with 18mm.

    Adding the ‘holes’

    We’ll start by making a new sketch and 2-point rectangle. When asked for the 'plane' be sure to click on the top of your board to make the rest of the process a little easier. (you'll be drawing on top of your board game)

    This time we need them to be 20mm by 10mm. To round over the corners, click the ‘Fillet’ option. Click all four corners and make sure the radius is the same on all four. I went for a 5mm radius.

    IMPORTANT for the next step. Remove the constraints, that hold the image locked into place. Look for the small figure shaped like a ‘corner made out of arrows’.

    Move the image to the first location by right clicking and selecting the option move/copy. Just click the little arrows and put in the right distance to move the object.

    Once the first object is in the right location we can make our grid/pattern. To quickly make a pattern of these ‘holes’, we can use the ‘Rectangular Pattern’ function. This will come in handy every time we need to do repetitive work. Be sure to change the distance type to 'spacing'.

    REPEAT this process for the horizontal, vertical and round holes.

    Extruding the objects to make some holes in our board

    Select all the sketches you’ve just drawn and select the “extrude” option. As in Tinkercad I’ll be going for 9mm deep holes.

    Adding text

    Under the sketch option there is also the possibility to add text and that’s exactly what we’ll do to spice our board up.

    Again, same thing as in Tinkercad, I’ll be putting the letters underneath each other to make the text run vertically instead of horizontally.I made the depth of the letters 3mm.

    Step 4: Rules of the Game!

    Easy to learn, hard to master!

    Each player takes a turn placing one wall. If that wall completes a square that player Captures it (CAP iT!) gets one point and gets to place another wall. The game continues until all the walls have been placed. The player with the most captures wins the game!

    Sounds easy right? Think again!

    The more you play the more tactics you will find!

    For example: How could you possibly win by giving your opponent points?!

    Step 5: Tips - Tricks - Extra's

    Play old school

    Get you printable version up here and play old school.

    Cutting aluminium and brass

    For the CNC'd I made some pins out of brass and aluminium. Did you know you can cut those with basic woodworking tools? Even on the table saw!


    • Take it slow
    • Make sure you hold your piece in place. I used a tablesaw sled and a pencil with an eraser to hold it down safely.

    Sanding small parts

    Sanding small parts can be a real pain in the $#%$... So:Put all the parts in a small bag and move them around for a minute or two. All the edges will be nice to the tough without having to sand everything by hand.

    Finish wooden parts and board

    To finish the wooden parts I'd like to use oil. Lind seed oil or any kind of oil for furniture finish will be perfect and really easy to use.

    Add your own logo

    To add the name to the handmade board I used a soldering iron. Really easy and super cool effect for handmade pieces.


    Feel free to contact me:


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