Altoids Tin Travel Games - Pocket Size Fun

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Introduction: Altoids Tin Travel Games - Pocket Size Fun

About: Those who know me know that I've always got some project on the go at all times. My interests are varied enough that I can jump from one to the next and not get bored. I seem to learn by doing and the best w...

Altoids tins are amazing things and here is yet another fun use for them. While this instructable includes a checker/chess board, tic-tac-toe, and backgammon the possibilities are really endless so feel free to add your own ideas.

Materials Needed:
Altoids 50g Tin (Rectangular)
Printer
Glue (Spray adhesive works well but a gluestick will also work)
Crazy Glue
Scissors
Fimo (for making your own game pieces)
Rare Earth Magnets
Hammer (optional, you'll see why in step 5)
Safety Glasses (if you need to bust up your magnets into smaller pieces)

Remember to vote if you like it!

*Important Warnings:
Magnets: Though this game is pocket size you should take care what you already have in your pocket when placing this game inside as it makes use of some very strong magnets. Some things like sensitive electronics, cameras, and especially credit cards with magnetic stripes do not play well with rare-earth magnets.

Choking Hazard: If you're making this for your kids (or with them) keep in mind that the game pieces are small and could pose a choking hazard to small children.

Step 1: Cleaning the Tin

Eat all the mints or dump them into a ziplock bag for consumption later, it never hurts to have a bag of mints in your car or desk at work.

Mint dust, while tasty,  can impede the glueing portion later on. Run the tin under a tap and then dry thoroughly with paper towel. If you have a can of compressed air it wouldn't hurt to give it a quick blast just to make sure its all gone.

Step 2: Print & Cutout the Game Surfaces

The attached template sheet is made to be printed on 8.5x11 paper in order for the game surfaces to be sized correctly. If you are having problems getting it to print properly try setting your print size to 100% at a dpi of 300.

Using scissors carefully cut the game surfaces out. There is also a blank template included if you choose to make your own instead of using the supplied ones.

Step 3: Glue the Game Surfaces to Your Tin

Apply adhesive to the back of the paper game pieces and affix them to the desired surface of the tin. Be sure that your mint tin is clean (back at step 1) othewise any mint dust may cause the glue not to adhere properly. Leave it sit and dry while you do the next steps.

Step 4: Make Your Game Pieces Part 1

You can get a little creative here, I chose to use some Fimo that I've had laying around for years and hadn't found a use for. The chess pieces can be difficult but since its your game you can make them look however you want. For the tic-tac-toe pieces I kept it simple with plain discs of different colors.

There are probably many ways to make the various game pieces you'll need so don't feel you have to follow this to the letter.

Below are the various pieces you'll need for each game:

Chess: One set for each side made of the following
8 Pawns, 2 Castles (Rooks), 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 1 King, 1 Queen.

Checkers:
12 Checkers of one colour, 12 checkers of another colour

Backgammon:
Two sets of 15 checkers, Two sets of two dice, one doubling cube with sides numbered 2,4,8,16, 32, and 64

It would be a good idea to just use the backgammon checkers for regular checkers instead of making seperate pieces for each game.

Step 5: Make Your Game Pieces Part 2

Once your game pieces are all formed you'll need to affix a magnet to the bottom of them. Depending on the size of the rare-earth magnets you use you may have to break them up a little with a hammer to get smaller pieces ***WEAR SAFTEY GLASSES*** if you have to break them apart. [Edit] Alternately you could use two pairs of pliers and break them in have again and again until they are small enough, probably a safer method ;)

When I made mine I thought just fitting the magnets into the Fimo would be enough but as you can see in the attached image they'd fall out.

You can do it one of two ways:
1) You can do what I did and try to form-fit the magnets into your game pieces first, bake them, and then glue them.

2) Keep your game pieces flat on the bottom, bake them, then glue them in place.

Either way should work, my method was due to trial and error.

Step 6: Play

Hopefully now all the glue is dry and your ready to test out your new portable 4 in 1 Altoids travel game!

*Important Warnings:
Magnets: Though this game is pocket size you should take care what you already have in your pocket when placing this game inside as it makes use of some very strong magnets. Some things like sensitive electronics, cameras, and especially credit cards with magnetic stripes do not play well with rare-earth magnets.

Choking Hazard: If you're making this for your kids (or with them) keep in mind that the game pieces are small and could pose a choking hazard to small children.

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    66 Discussions

    You could use those tiny earth magnets in each piece. I got a bunch in a sample pack from Lee Valley Tools that I've been wondering what to use them for. I think that I'll use some Sugru and those magnets and make something similar to this

    I made mine with an altoids tin, the printable game mats, Buckycubes, those neodymium discs, and finally, hot glue to keep it all in place. Oh yeah, don't froget fimo! xD

    I have a question: Why couldn't you just buy one of those cheap $5 quality portable chess sets and steal the pieces from dat?

    *Papermart.com sells a similar tin http://www.papermart.com/hinged-rectangular-tin-cans/id=23271#23271 for $0.88 ea. Down side, you have to buy them in lots of 24. Up side, you don't have to pay for or eat two dozen tins of mints and there is no imprint in the lid or mint dust to deal with. They do have many sizes, shapes and configurations of tins, and thousands of other fun things, but there's no mixing and matching for quanitity. Pretty sure they ship worldwide, so that should basically solve all the previous supply questions.

    I got mine from Dealextreme (http://dx.com/c/hobbies-toys-899/toys-for-all-ages-803/magnets-gadgets-835) but nowadays they're quite common, if you have a Lee Valley store in your area/country they sell them there I believe. Ebay or Dealextreme will be the cheapest by far though, any extras are handy to have around as fridge magnets etc. I've superglued some to random things so they'd hang on my fridge (scissors for example).

    For the magnets, when I was in elementary school we had earrings that were no-pierce. They would be shaped like the stud, about a 1/8" round cylinder, and would magnetically cling through the ear. These would be roughly the size you need

    1 reply

    Or these if you go with the colour coding
    http://www.claires.com/store/goods/Teens/cat310120/Clips-%26-Magnetics/p52199/Colored-Gemstones-Magnetic-Earring-Set-of-9/

    Nice to see Altoids used for something other than freshening your breath, or surviving the collapse of society. Great job!

    This is totally outstanding work. Nice job! now I just need to find a similar sized tin in the UK...

    can you tell me how you guys get the top of the tins to smooth, all the tins i see have ALTOIDS raised and i dont know if you have to find a smooth one or if you flatten them some how

    Comment spam!
    Seriously though, is this a double post gone terribly wrong, or did you intend to make four separate consecutive posts? :P

    Pretty awesome idea, however I'd suggest picking a game other than tic-tac-toe considering it's such a flawed game (as long as the two people playing truly know how to play, it will always end in a tie).

    2 replies

    Yeah, that's always bugged me. One of the things they teach you in a computer science course is making a simple tic-tac-toe algorithm. I made one in two days:).

    Now, if you want a real challenge, try Quantum tic-tac-toe. It was a game designed to help students understand quantum mechanics, so you can pretty much guess the level of strategy involved.

    -Y

    Great idea, well designed instructable – love the quality photos. The only thing I'd change is how to do the game boards. Printables are quick, for sure, but how do you make the paper durable/waterproof/etc.? I suppose you could shellac it on, or I think you could spray the tin white, then mask on the black bits, or burnish off the original paint, mask it and just spray the black parts. A bit more work, but then it'd last for camping, etc.