Tablut and Hnefatafl




About: My name is Erhan. I am a mechanical/manufacturing engineer. I am an amateur puzzle collector, craftsman and designer. I like mechanical puzzles, board games and wood works. I write also a small non commerci...

Hnefatafl, and Tablut are historic viking games. This two game are rare kind of games with two unequal sides. The defending side comprises 8 soldiers and a king, who start the game in a cross formation in the center of the board. Their objective is for the king to escape by reaching any of the four corner squares. The attackers comprise 16 soldiers positioned in four groups of 4 around the board. All pieces move like the Rook in chess and pieces are taken by "sandwiching" i.e. moving your piece so that an opponent's piece is trapped horizontally or vertically between two of yours. You can read more about the history of this game from it's wiki page. This game has a lot of variations and different rules. there are also 7x7, 11x11 and 13x13 board variations. I preferred 9x9 board.

Rules for Tablut and a lot of information is here.
Rules for Hnefatafl and a lot of information is here.

This two games are nice to play and interesting. But unfortunately finding ready to play sets on the market is difficult. For this reason I decided to make my own set. Here I will share with you how I made my own game. If you like mechanical puzzles, game and toys, you can visit my noncommercial blog "Diypuzzles" for more projects.

Step 1: Making the Board

I made inside of the board from a ready pine wooden panel. It was an IKEA shelf. I cut this shelf to 200×200 mm squares and I made a lot of different games. Board inside thickness is 18 mm.

For making the board frame I used 20 x 20 mm ready wooden stocks. 45° corner joints was difficult to make with my workshop possibilities. For this reason ı made four decorative corner part 20x20x25 mm. I drilled their center and made a cross saw trace for decorative purposes. Making a game board this way is very easy.

For making the lines I used a wood burning machine. You can use a wire type wood burning machine with a steel ruler for thin and straight lines. I made with a different wood burning machine two different pattern on some squares on the board. This patterns show the beginning position for game pieces. There are two different type of game pieces for this game.

Step 2: Making the Game Pieces

For the dark pieces I used a small wooden chess set. They are very cheap and easier than making. I made rectangular light pieces from 15×15 mm ready wooden block. Pieces dimensions is 15x15x20 mm. I cut them inclined with my hand miter saw and made two saw trace an marked them with a wood burning tool. All for decorative purposes. You can make your own pieces as you wish.

According the rules that I play, corner square and center square can be used only by the king. For this reason I made a pin to this squares and a hole to the bottom of the king. You can decide for this after a few play according different rules.

Inside of the board you can see from the photo a second frame that I made from thin bamboo sticks. This is also only for decorative purposes.

If you like mechanical puzzles, game and toys, you can visit my noncommercial blog "Diypuzzles" for more projects.



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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I wanted to make a fold up version to play on park tables or the kitchen table. This is what I came up with.

    hneftafl 1.jpghneftafl 2.jpg
    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    That looks nice! is the photo black and white, or is it just the lighting?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like the design. Would like to see more about the building process. Does the board open to hold the game pieces?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, the board don't open. Unfortunately I haven't more photos. But building is very easy. I cut a 200x200x18 mm pine board and four 20x20x200 mm hard wood pieces. And four corner piece 20x20x25 mm. I glued all together.


    4 years ago

    Quite well done.