Finska (also called Mölkky) is a Finnish game invented by the Lahden Paikka company in 1996.
The game consists of 12 wooden pins arranged into a group. Players or teams of players throw a throwing log
(also called the Mölkky) underarm in an attempt to knock down pins in order to be the first to score exactly 50 points. If points are scored that causes to the score to exceed 50 the player (or team) has their score reset to 25.
The game is easy to learn and can be very addictive, great for camping, parties, or playing during lunch breaks (i recommend grassy areas if you want your set to last).
You can make your set out of any wood you like, but the harder the wood the longer your set will last.
My old set had so many dents and nicks from playing that it was repurposed ( i made a set of wooden pens from it), rather then spending $70 (Australian dollars) on a new set i decided to make my own set from timber rescued from being sent to landfill or being turned into mulch.
I hope you enjoy the making progress and get as addicted to playing as i am.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
As with any good afternoon project this can be done with either hand tools or you can break out the power tools and get things done, the choice is yours. I opted to use power tools since I had them handy.
Tools I used:
Drop Saw ( 25 year old style Mitre Saw)
Handsaw (if you don't want to use, or don't have a power saw)
Mitre Gauge (for your hand saw)
Lathe (completely optional)
250 grit sandpaper
Micro mesh sanding pads (optional)
For materials I used
2.1m Rounded Hard wood of choice (6.7ft) (diameter of at least 40mm (1.57in))
Super Glue (optional)
To make your Finska (Mölkky) set you going to want to choose a nice hardwood if you want it to last a long time, but since this is a quick and fairly inexpensive project the choice is yours.
I chose to use Tasmanian Oak, the 3 reasons for this choice are.
1 Tasmanian Oak is a hard wearing wood often used for furniture so it will last
2 It's a Native Timber to Australia
3 I was able to get it for next to nothing.
One place i recommend to visit before starting a new project are Resource Rescue centre's, These charities collect up materials from business and sell it for a very reasonable price, with the money going to charity. I was able to pick up my wood from such a place for about $2
Step 2: Measure and Cut
The first thing you need to do measure out your pins and throwing log (also called the Mölkky). Because of the diameter of the wood you don't want the pins too tall or the wind will blow them over. I found 14.5cm (5.7in) to be a good height. Mark out the 12 pins on your wood.
Reminder: if you are using a Mitre saw or table saw to take into account the width of the blade and mark it out between each pin marking, most standard saws the blade thickness is 3mm (1/8in).
The throwing log (Mölkky) wants to be a little bit short of the length of 2 finished pins, But since we don't have 2 finished pins right now, you will want to mark out a section of wood 23.5cm (9.25in) long.
Once your pins are marked out, clamp the wood to the saw to prevent slipping and cut your first pin, line up the second piece and using the first pin to ensure the second pin is the same size, and cut, repeating for each pin till you have all 12.
Reminder: Use the same pin each time to prevent errors.
Don't forget to cut your throwing log.
Next up is the step 3: Sanding now Vs Sanding Later
Step 3: Sanding Now Vs Sanding Later
An essential part of any project involving woodwork is to sand your piece.
It is optional if you sand your pins now or if you sand them later.
After Cutting your pins you will likely have some feathering on the cut line of your wood. This is caused by your saw blade.
If you are going to hand sand i would recommend sanding later.
Because I have access to a lathe i opted to sand now. This is because later on you will cut the pin at a 45 Degree angle and so would no longer be mountable on the lathe.
I used 250 grit sandpaper running the lather at 2300rpm. This gives a nice and smooth finish. I also rounded the edges slightly using the sand paper for a smoother finish.
Step 4: Shaping the Pins
Now that your pins have been cut, and possibly sanded, its time to shape the pins.
Take your pins back to the saw and set the cut angle to 45 Degrees. This angle allows the number on the pins to be read facing them rather then on top. This is essential for scoring during the game.
You want to line up the blade so that it cuts the angle from the edge so that your cut end is a nice rounded edge. If you cut to short the top edge will be flattened and just won't look right.
Once you've shaped your 12 pins, its time to move onto sanding.
Step 5: Sanding Again/later
As i said earlier an essential part of any project involving woodwork is to sand your piece. Not only does sanding the piece remove the risk of splinters, it also brings out the beauty of the wood.
If you sanded earlier you'll have less work to do now as you'll only need to sand the angled cut to remove the feathering.
go ahead and sand your pins and move onto the final step.
Step 6: Numbering Your Pins
The final step in making your very own Finska set is to number the pins.
You will want to number each pin from 1 to 12.
I usually use a stencil when numbering the pins, but the guide dog we are training decided to chew my stencil i wrote the number on freehand in pencil, Later i will go over the numbers using paint but a sharpie is another option.
The choice is yours.
Once your pins are numbered you can set them up and start playing.
See step 8 for rules and setup.
Step 7: (optional) Shaping Your Throwing Log
This step is completely optional, but i chose to shape my Throwing log.
You can do this by hand if your skilled in wood carving or use a lathe, but you can also leave the Throwing log the way it is and just sand the corners round, its up to you and its all about personal preference.
I used my lathe and chisels to make the smoother and bring out the texture and banding of the wood. I tapered the ends to give it some dimension.
Next i put on some thin coats of superglue, this not only brings out the luster of the wood but also gives it a little bit more protection from dents (Something i recommend if your playing with children).
After the glue had dried, i used the micro-mesh sanding pads, followed by polishing compound to bring the finish to a high gloss.
Step 8: Rules and Setup
The pin arrangement in Finska is a little unusual. The pins are clustered together tightly starting with the first row consisting of pins 1 & 2. The second row consists of pins 3,10,4. The third row has pins 5,11,12,6 and the back row has pins 7,9,8.
This can be confusing, and hard to remember, so i have included a diagram in the pictures.
Players stand at the throwing line marked 3.5 - 4m (11.5 - 13ft) from the pin cluster.
Players can throw the log from anywhere behind the throw line using an underarm throw, aiming to knock down pins.
If a player (or team) fails to knock down any pins after 3 turns the player (or team) loses.
The first player (or team) to reach exactly 50 points wins.
If a player or team scores points that exceed 50 points, their score is reset to 25 points.
Points can be scored in only one of two ways:
Knocking over exactly one pin scores the amount of points that is marked on the respective pin
e.g. knocking over the 12 pin scores the player (or team) 12 points
Knocking over two or more pins scores the number of pins that were knocked over
(e.g. knocking over 3 pins scores 3 points)