The Ouija Board; no other game is as controversial, mysterious, or has such divided opinions among its fans and opponents. But when you research and investigate the boards, you start to uncover a rich, extensive and intriguing history.
Fascinating stories have always been associated with the Ouija board, from how it got its name in the first place, to how the most famous person associated with the board met his untimely end at the factory the board itself told him to build.
It’s no wonder that with over a century of history associated with the Ouija and thousands upon thousands of different boards being produced, a thriving community of collectors seek to demystify the mysterious oracle.
Brickja: a Lego Ouija Board
All boards made with Lego can follow the same structure as Brickja, which in its simplest form, is technically 4 layers, structured to make it aesthetically pleasing while being sturdy enough to pick up.
The pictures may be misleading; Brickja is LARGE, as is the pumpkin planchette; both are larger than any of the traditional Ouija boards you can buy in the shops. You can see this demonstrated in one of the pictures where it's compared to one of the boards produced by William Fuld between 1907 - 1910.
The board itself measures 31” x 22.5”, which is the equivalent of 6930 1 x 1 Lego tiles / bricks per layer. As there are 4 layers, you’re going to have to raid your kids Lego collection, plus find a whole lot more! There are ways to drastically reduce this number though.
Trying to pick up something that size made from bricks, needs to be sturdy otherwise it will buckle and break apart – you don’t think this is the first build of Brickja, do you? There were several piles of broken boards on the floor before I settled on a happy medium between structural integrity and the volume of bricks I needed to use!
An important factor to consider when designing and creating a talking board made from Lego, is the cost. I’ve already mentioned the volume needed to create BrickJa. Whist it doesn’t matter what type or color of Lego you use within the innards of the board, I wanted the external to have a consistent design and color. It’s also essential that the top layer is smooth and made from flat tiles (this is the layer you’ll see and that will have the planchette sliding across it). This board therefore has the potential to be very expensive by the time its completed, given that you’ll have to source potentially hard to find colors and size combinations to get the right look (Particularly if you are a purist only want to only use Lego products!).
It’s possible to make a brick style board that’s smaller by using the Lego as a solid base and then printing, sticking or painting artwork directly onto the smooth top layer of bricks, but I wanted to create what is possibly the worlds first fully functional Lego talking Board and planchette, which included all the lettering, numbers and other aspects to be completely made from bricks.
The planchette was trickier to piece together but it’s more intricate in terms of its styling so that was to be expected. Again, a different design, more in keeping with the traditional Ouija planchette could be easier to create, but I wanted something fun!
There is also a functional reason I opted for this design though, and it’s a reason any Ouija board user will be aware of. When you move a traditional planchette to the bottom of the board for the ‘goodbye’ or the numbers, sometimes the planchette will fall off the bottom of the board! This pumpkin design, with the mouth open as the window for the letters, means there is ample space for it to glide around the board without falling off.
- Loads of Lego; not joking, making a talking board will use A LOT, and I can’t stress that enough! But in terms of color and type, this will depend on the design you are going for.
- Graph paper or spreadsheet software
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Step 1: Sourcing Bricks and Tiles
Once you have gone through the next step, you will need to source the bricks and tiles to create your masterpiece. You do have a choice here, whether to go for the official Lego bricks or other brands.
Being a purist, I would always recommend the official Lego bricks and tiles, however, you are paying a premium and the cost will be much more, plus you may have issues sourcing the color, quantity and shapes you need, particularly with the top layer.
In some instances, you may have no other alternative to source alternate brands; this is something I found particularly with the colors I wanted.
If you are going for the official Lego bricks, whether you want brand new or second hand, these are the best resources:
- The pick and mix in the official Lego shop or online
- Other marketplaces such as Facebook, Gumtree etc
- Your kids Lego collection!
I sourced alternate brands from:
With alternate brands, expect the quality to be much lower, and you’ll have to wait some considerable time for delivery. If your design is going to be large, Lego also sell bricks in bulk via their online shop.
Step 2: The Design
Before we even think of touching the Lego, we need to have a design you like. This is simple enough to do on graph paper, or you can use software such as Excel or an equivalent (as I did).
Traditionally, a Ouija board will have the alphabet, split into two levels, with A to M on the top, and N to Z on the bottom. You’ll also want numbers 1 to 9, and don’t forget the 0! This is optional, but nearly all boards will have a Yes and No, together with making sure you have a Goodbye. I wanted to reduce space and tiles used, so I opted for just ‘Bye’, rather than ‘Goodbye’.
If you want, you can name your board and pop on a couple of characters or artwork as I did (the pumpkins), but if you are wanting to reduce the size and therefore limit the volume of Lego used, it’s entirely up to you!
The pumpkin design I used is based on an old Lego Halloween pack that came out several years ago. There are others (such as a ghost) so take a look around and see what suits you best. The larger your board, the more detail you can put in.
I would recommend starting your design with the alphabet and numbers, then grow the design outwards and fit everything else around those. Once you have everything where you want it, pop a rectangle around it all – this will be the board itself – and then you can count how many bricks & tiles you need for your design. As said before, my design was 6930 studs per layer.
So that's the top layer designed, but now we need to move to the structural integrity of the board. The bottom 3 layers are 95% filler bricks and tiles (particularly the second layer); it doesn’t matter what you use, and they can be any shape, size or color. The edge of the board is important if you want a consistent color; I wanted a black board, so the edge had black tiles and bricks and everything else internally was made up from all manner of colors!
To get you on your way, in this Instrucable I've also included the actual design for Brickja, in Excel format.
I've noted the colors I used:
- B = Black
- O = Orange
- G = Green
Think of it as a Lego paint by numbers!
Step 3: Layer One: Structural Bottom Plates
To fully explain how to build each layer of the board, we’ll take it a layer (step) at a time. The 1st layer (the bottom one), needs to be as structurally secure as possible. When picked up, this is the layer that has the potential to bend and flex (and therefore break apart).
You will need to fill this layer with the largest sized plates as you can find. I managed to find 6 plates, sized 32 x 32 (all different colors) and fit them into my design, allowing for the edge to then have black tiles with a width of either 1 or 2, to ensure the color consistency of the overall design for when its looked at from above or from the sides, depending on where the participants are sitting. There's never a need to see the back of the board, except when its picked up for transporting to another haunted location!
At this point, nothing is fixed in place; all the plates and tiles are just laid out in the pattern I wanted.
Step 4: Layer Two: Filler & Locking Bricks
This is where we are going to secure the plates with bricks.
Every plate or tile you have, needs to be secured by locking it in place with multiple bricks. They can be any shape, size or color you want. You will see in the pictures the types of bricks I used and the way in which the bottom layer was secured.
Its worth taking time to note, that you don’t need to completely fill this layer with bricks. I left lots of gaps when doing this layer; just ensure the gaps aren’t too large on the seams of the bottom plates, and make sure that all corners of the bottom plates are also secured with bricks. This is important for the next step!
Using the final color you’ve chosen for your board, fill the edge completely; this can be with bricks as thin or as thick as you want, as long as they are only 1 brick high. We need to make sure the height remains consistent throughout.
Step 5: Layer Three: Structural Top Plates
This is the last step of the design that adds structural integrity, before we move onto the top design element. Basically, what you did for the bottom layer, you need to do the same for the this (3rd) layer.
If you can, try to have the seams of the plates slightly off center from the 1st layer (in the usual Lego / brick building technique), to help with rigidity of the final board.
Important: If you didn’t put locking bricks in the corners or edges of the plates in the last step, you’ll find these plates sag or get pushed down along the edges (particularly in the corners), which means the final design layer will not sit right, and the flat tiles you’ll put on in the next step may be uneven. The reason this is so important, is that it will prevent the planchette from gliding easily over the tiles, so its important to get it right! I had to lift this layer a number of times to add additional filler bricks due to this reason!
Step 6: Layer Four: the Main Design
We are onto the final stage of the board; however, this is the stage that takes forever! It’s time to replicate your design onto the 4th layer. Fingers crossed you counted / measured your design correctly otherwise you are in trouble!
As explained earlier, there are a lot of flat tiles to put on, it is easy to lose your way. I broke it into sections and started with the characters and lettering at the top. Once I had finished those, I put a border around the outside, then filled with the background color I wanted. In this case, black, as it was the easiest to source, the cheapest, and made up the bulk of the tiles.
With the lettering, I went for a combination of 1x1 or 2x1 flat tiles, with a few 3x1 thrown in for good measure. With the black background tiles, they were mostly 1 x 2, with some longer tiles which I had taken from my kids Lego collection. With the 2x1 tiles, I placed them in the usual off-center Lego/brick building design principle, so to give the final design more rigidity and be more aesthetically pleasing (you can see what i mean in the pictures).
I continued with this principle for the next section of the alphabet and background, moving my way down to the bottom.
In theory, this is a simple, but time-consuming process!
Step 7: The Planchette
The creation of the planchette follows the exact same steps, albeit in a smaller, more intricate manner depending on your design.
I used a lot of small plates on the bottom layer, as due to the design with the open mouth, it was impossible to add large plates for structural integrity. However, to make up for this, I completely filled the second later with bricks to ensure a good stability and rigidity; remember this is the item you’ll be handling the most, pushing it around the board, lifting it up etc, so it needs to be sturdy.
The same principles apply to the 3rd and 4th layers as it did with the main board.
Step 8: The Planchette: Helping It to Slide
The final thing to add to the planchette is a mechanism to allow it to glide around the board.
If you don’t do this step, you’ll find it’ll get stuck on any of the top tiles that haven’t been pushed down or aren’t perfectly level.
All I used were a few domes; the size and shape of your design will dictate how many you need to use. Remember a number of participants could be pushing down on the edges, so to stop the planchette from lifting on the opposite side, put the domes as far as you can to the edges.
The details for this Lego part are:
- Name: Plate, Round 2 x 2 with Rounded Bottom
- Part number: 2654
Step 9: Ouija: More Information
For those of you who have read this far and want to know more about Ouija, its mysterious history, or just want to see the plethora of different boards that have been available over the years, these are the sites I would recommend looking at:
If, however, you just want to learn how to use Ouija boards, I would recommend the following channel on YouTube:
If you are looking to start collecting Ouija Boards, there are a number of pitfalls and things to be aware of. I wrote about my experiences and provide tips in this book. Although its written from a UK perspective, the tips and tricks are relevant for all countries:
This is an entry in the
Halloween Contest 2019