Bruggen Keva Kapla Citiblocks Style Building Planks




About: Professional work in various electrical and mechanical fields, obscure sense of humour and typically willing to help... Currently under contract designing environmental monitoring equipment.

I got youtubed one night and ended up looking at dominos. Not sure how it happened but there it was.

In my sidebar There was a link for Keva Planks. These would be a perfect and inspiring gift for my nephew or not since I really like the finished plabks...

They can even be coloured without paint.

I began to think that these might give a solution to my you tube addiction. They would work but at 0.40$ each not a chance I could afford them. Those are American dollars!

Alright, I have some basic shop tools, how hard could it be?

I used a mitre saw, table saw and several 2X4's

In the end I have over 850 to play with! YES the tower is over 6 feet tall!!!

The only thing more fun than building is busting that sucker down!

Step 1: Cut, Cut and More Cut

Initially I did a wiki search to find out what the specs were. Link after link I found that this was a French guy who arbitrarily chose dimensions. I'm game so I sheepleled the scenario. Believe it or not, his dimensions make for a functional and practical piece so I decided to make hundreds!

Math has the estimate at 140 mini planks per 8 foot 2X4 with ideal conditions. At $2.55 for each 2X4 at the Orange store , well you can math this time...

A standard construction grade spruce 2X4 is just awful for precision building, what with the knots, Japanese beetle holes, rough handling an such. You will need to cut many and there will be waste. The best wood here is the center of the 2X4. Cut the edges off and leave the middle!

Yes I get that with more careful planning there is the potential to get 10 to 11 blocks from each section. I chose to use the off cuts for some amazing future projects.

I required 1:3:15 ratio. In SAE inch terms, the planks need to be .25 by .75 by 4.75. I chose to add 1/16 inch to all dimensions in flawed thinking of the next steps.

There is a couple of ways to go about cutting the tiny planks.

The first is to run the 2X4 through the saw all at once. My saw is less than precision so this idea wrecked more than it produced.

Ideally you will be wanting to remove all the factory edges from the poorly cut construction grade material.

I ended up cutting into 4.8 inch sections for easy processing. This was then cut into 7 usable pieces.

I got 20 sections from each 2X4.

Time to turn the table saw on for a couple of hours.

Step 2: Pieces

So initially I planned on sanding each individual piece. Crazy, yes I know but I hate splinters.

The best way to sort the good from the bad is to actually build something.

I chose to make a tower.

The best advice I can give for this is to not stay on one side. Your tower will lean towards you... move around to prevent this. I did not!!!

The sanding idea died as the build progressed!

I like the tactile feel of the rough wood and it seems to build a stable structure. What??? No one is going to call phrasing here????

After a couple of hundred pieces you will begin to develop a sense for when a piece is not right. Hard to explain but it happens if you let it. By feel you will begin to sort the pieces that are not uniform. toss these to the bin and work with what is right.

Step 3: Dyeing for Wood

So I thought to make some of these in colour. Years ago Kool Aid was an amazing dye source. Today, 8 stores and no powder. Again Calgary fails!

I tried 2 types of dye, Kool Aid cherry liquid and RIT fabric. RIT is the way to go.

A cold water and a quick dip as all that in needed. Soaking will destroy the precision of your cut pieces.

I processed several samples of each and Kool Aid liquid just plain sucks! But it smells great!

Since kiln dried wood will suck up as much moisture as you give it, you will need to dry any dyed piece.

I recommend an oven at 350 for about 15 mins.

Step 4: Play Before Packing

Since you will probably be giving this as a gift. I recommend playing with each block before wrapping it. Phrasing again!

This way you will know if the blocks are good to go before you send them out the door.

The spoke elements in the second pic are not necessary and they serve no purpose.

Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Dyeing for Color Contest

Participated in the
Dyeing for Color Contest

2x4 Contest

Participated in the
2x4 Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015



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    5 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Nicely done! I tried making these & discovered a setup method that worked for me. I used 2x8 SYP & first cut 1/4 inch slices through the width of the 2x8. For the blocks to stack correctly, the ratios need to be really exact. So I set up my table saw to cut the plank widths by stacking 3 of the 1/4" thick pieces between the saw blade and the fence to set the 3/4" rip width. Similarly, to cut the pieces to length, I used 5 of the pieces (through their 3/4" widths) to set the distance between the blade and stop block for the crosscut.


    2 years ago

    I just bought 1600 Citiblocs for my school, sold on the claims of absolute precision manufacturing and it turns out they aren't so perfect after all. In just about any handful of planks you can easily see differences. Good on you for making them yourself.


    3 years ago

    Awesome job! We have 400 or so of the store-bought kind. Next time I will try your idea!

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    If you do, try using a finishing blade on the saw for a smoother cut. good luck and enjoy.