Magnetic Rotating Risk Board




About: I'm an artist/maker from South Brooklyn, New York. Jack of all trades - master of none

What I've created is a spin (no pun intended) on the traditional rectangular Risk game board.

I have on occasion been stuck being the guy on the wrong side of the table during a 6 player session, having to read Kamchatka upside down for two hours. I've also been the clumsy dude, knocking adjacent players pieces all over the board. First world problems, I know. But problems nonetheless.  I'm all about efficiency and the magnetic rotating Risk board solves all of those problems with the convenience of being able to move the board around with your pieces held in place.  

You can make your own. You can add your own personal touch and get as creative as you want. This is how I made mine.

First let me give you a rundown of all the materials/tools I used.

1/2" bore bit
electric drill
3/4" thick 26" diameter table top:
Golden acrylic paints, glaze, and gesso
various paintbrushes
paint markers (gold for borders and red for sea paths)
Minwax stain
Rust-oleum Magnetic Primer
artist tape/painter's tape
X-Acto knives
Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic coating
1/2" carriage bolt
locking nut
crescent wrench
4x 3/8" nuts and bolts
24x 3/8" washers
1/2" bearing:
(imitation) gold leaf and adhesive
stylus for embossing country names (if you can call what I did embossing, I dunno) 
5mm x 5mm x 1mm magnets 

Step 1: Making a 1/2" Hole for the Carriage Bolt

Before I do anything else to the board, I want to get the center hole out of the way.  There's a smaller hole on the underside of the tabletop.  It's dead center so I use it as a guide for boring the center hole with the electric drill and bore bit.

Step 2: Painting the Outline of Continents - Gesso and Magnetic Primer

I cover the entire board with artist tape. I try to make it as seamless as possible to avoid getting any gesso or primer on the rest of the board as I plan to stain any remaining exposed wood.  The white and matte artist tape allows me to sketch the continents in pencil and plan where I am going to place each of the countries. The challenge with this was envisioning a spherical three-dimensional object on a two dimensional circular surface. I wanted to maintain the shape of the continents while keeping the needs of the game board in mind. Some warping of Asia was necessary for the board to continue making sense. There had to be enough space within each country to hold a decent amount of troops. In spite of having to make some compromises, I am quite happy with the silhouette of the continents and the area of the play space. 

After this sketch, I cut the outline of the sketch to create a stencil and proceed to apply gesso (at least 3 coats) and magnetic primer. Mix the magnetic primer well if you want to magnetize your board. The primer will not work if several layers of well mixed paint are not applied.

Step 3: More Gesso for Painting Seas Gold Outlining for Coasts/borders

After removing the artist tape, I start to tackle the oceans and coasts/borders.  I want to try to preserve the edges of the continents so after applying gesso, carefully to the edge of each continent, I outline them with a gold paint marker.

I want a similar sharp and random edge (imitating coastlines and natural faults in the ocean) so I outline the surrounding areas with artist tape, sketch an edge and cut it with an X-Acto knife like I did earlier with the continents.  I'll fill it to the edge with gesso in preparation for painting the oceans/bodies of water.

Step 4: Painting Continent/border Outline

I paint the edges of continents and countries in the traditional Risk colors. I am using artists acrylic paint. 

*notice I couldn't wait to try the gold leaf
see the gold smudges? - I'll fix that later

Step 5: Painting Oceans

The color that I am mainly using in the oceans is Cerulean Blue. I try to create depth and contrast by blending areas of deep and shallow water  through shades of this single color with mostly white surrounding the coastlines.

Step 6: Painting the Risk and Reinforcements Decals

Instead of using a solid color for the signage on the board, I wanted it to look like outlined plaster to contrast with the minimal stained wood grain surrounding it.  I like using stencils to keep a sharp and clean edge.  More gesso!

Step 7: Gold Leafing Countries

I want to gold leaf the inner area of each country and plan to emboss the country names.  Watch the video to see how I applied the gold leaf.  The magnetic primer is porous and it drinks the adhesive up a bit so I had to put a bit more than I normally would.  I love the texture that the flaky gold leaf creates and how it catches light.

Step 8: Staining and Writing Armies Decal

I use a rag to stain the remaining exposed wood. Multiple coats will be needed.

I also finish writing the information of each continent on the armies decal.

Step 9: Cutting Notches for Carriage Bolt

To accommodate the square top of the carriage bolt. I use a #6 X-Acto knife to cut the notches.  Now the top of the bolt is flush with the top of the game board.

Step 10: Embossing and Sea Paths

Refer to the video to see an example of how I embossed the country names.  I used a stylus tool that is usually used for sculpting. The fine and broader point of the tool helped me carve out nice lines in the gold leaf. 

I also get the sea paths done with a red paint marker.

Step 11: Painting Border

You guessed it! More gesso. I cover it with some iridescent gold paint.

Step 12: Applying Clear Coat

After I'm done with the decorative features of the board, I apply multiple coats of a clear acrylic coating to protect the board and provide a nice finish.

Step 13: Gluing Magnets on Game Pieces

Epoxy is used to glue the small hobby magnets to the infantry and cavalry game pieces. I don't think it's necessary to put them on cannons as the they are usually very stable.

Step 14: Assembling Base and Finishing Up!

The bearing is a pretty heavy hunk of metal so it works as a good base. I elevate the bearing to make room for the nut on the bottom using the 3/8" bolts and washers.  The carriage bolt goes in the center hole and through the bearing. I tighten the lock nut and the board is complete. Notice how the pieces don't move when the board is rotated or angled at any degree.

Now it's time to play some Risk in style.



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    15 Discussions

    Right, this is really cool, but, what is Gesso? I've never heard of it, is it like acrylic paint because that's what I was going to use..

    1 reply

    Acrylic gesso would work perfectly. Gesso is a ground that is applied to the surface to prepare it for painting. It gives something for the paint to grab onto.

    Here's a link to the exact gesso I used:


    5 years ago on Step 14

    Great instructable, very clear and detailled. I love the design and layout of board you've made. What kind of hobby magnets did you use? The ones you'll find on those free flat refridgermagnets?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 14

    Thanks, Richard. It was a blast to work on and I can't wait to get the time to improve on it.
    I bought them off of eBay. They're 1mm x 5mm square neodymium hobby magnets that are used for Warhammer-like figurine games.

    For those of you who like Risk, I very much recommend Warlight. It is quite a fun game either in real-time or multi-day pace, and is completely free.


    6 years ago on Step 9

    bonjours cette instructable et bien main y a plus simple pour refaire la carte vous scanner votre plateau de jeux et l'imprimer sur feuille A4 et de la vous les decouper pour vous en servir de pochoirs .
    pour le plateau tournent pourquoi ne pas simplement utiliser un plateau de vielle tele ?
    j'en est une en forme rectangulaire et cela convient pour y plaquer une feuille de contre plaque de la forme voulu ^^ ( dsl j'ai pas traduit en anglais )

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    If Google Translate is correct:
    Thank you!
    I hand drew the continents rather than designing it in software. I did this mainly because it is easier for me to just go ahead an draw on the surface immediately rather than take the time to first design, then print and have to piece the stencil together, etc. This was a quick and easy method that I am used to.
    As for the base, I didn't have anything like a rotating TV stand and I wanted to use something more study and heavy-duty.
    I was not successful at translating the last part of your comment.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I think Sylar said: For the turning table why not simply use an old turning TV table or entertainment stand type of a thing. It comes in a rectangular form (like thew risk board) and it should be easy to put the printed template he mentioned on.... I think, My french isn't the greatest and I used Google a couple times. :P


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is really cool =) - I'm working on my own (a present though) risk board right now. But since I didn't get my hands on a proper bearing, I used furniture castors instead so now it's rotatable and movable.
    Since it's not as expensive I just bought a square piece of wood and cut it to an octagon (I was a bit lazy) and it works just as fine - I hope I can post pictures up soon!
    And thanks for the idea!

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes! I would love to see the finished product. I admit, I did overdo it with the bearing but I liked the idea of a solid piece of metal for the board to rest on and hold the bolt in place.


    6 years ago on Step 9

    bonjours cette instructable et bien main y a plus simple pour refaire la carte vous scanner votre plateau de jeux et l'imprimer sur feuille A4 et de la vous les decouper pour vous en servir de pochoirs .
    pour le plateau tournent pourquoi ne pas simplement utiliser un plateau de vielle tele ?
    j'en est une en forme rectangulaire et cela convient pour y plaquer une feuille de contre plaque de la forme voulu ^^ ( dsl j'ai pas traduit en anglais )


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely Amazing, Risk is my favourite board game (when I win :D). I always fight to be on the right side so you read the countries.
    I wish I could make this but I have the artistic talent of a snail. The magnets are a great idea, I'm forever hitting the board and then we spend forever trying to get them back in the same places they were.
    Voted, hope you win!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    nice, i never thought of this solution to having to crane your neck to examine the board :D
    next stop, a globe!
    imagine a globe, with the countries on it, and you used magnetic pieces on it. that would be epic/hilarious/hard :D


    6 years ago on Step 14

    thats Pretty Clever I have never played Risk but I bet this would be great for scrabble. I love the idea of Magnets. We usually play musical chairs or turn the board when game playing but this would definately be handy for our favorite games.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, WorkingGunn. It's reassuring that I'm not the only one who finds this issue problematic! Did you say Scrabble... ; )