How to Make a Mancala Board

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If you have ever played mancala, you know it is a relatively simple, yet enticingly addictive, game to play. With a few power tools and by following these simple steps, you can make your own mancala board.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood board (at least 1"x12")
  • Router (plunge or fixed)
  • Sand paper
  • Varnish
  • Marbles or pennies

Making Your Own Mancala Board

  • Sand your board with sand paper, if it needs sanding. You will end up sanding it again, but this will help you smooth any overall surface defects on a flat surface.

  • Set your router to the desired depth in order to make the indentations in your board. Depending on the size of your board, this can be different for every board. For instance, if you have a board that is 1 inch thick, you will only want your indentation to be about 1/4 inch deep. Any deeper and you jeopardize the strength of the board.

  • Measure out a four inch spot at the end of each board for the "base cup" for each player. Make sure the spot is measured so that the route will be vertical between the shortest ends of the board.

  • Measure the remaining space of the board between the two base cups and divide it up so that you have six equal spots on each side across your board over which to route your indentations/cups. These should be about 1 inch around.

  • Make sure that while measuring out these cups you account for equal spacing between the individual cups.

  • Take your set router and slowly bring it down onto the pre-marked areas. You will want to do this a couple of times so as to subtly make the indentation. If you try to do it all at once, you can burn your wood.

  • Sand the edges of the board upon completion of the routing phase. Pay particular attention to the cups so that they are smooth.

  • Add a lacquer to to the board to protect the wood and give it a nice shine.

  • Buy flat or round marbles at any fabric store (as many as you desire, you can play variations that require three marbles per cup or more). If you do not want to buy marbles, simply use pennies or beans or any other small object.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a nice uniqe board try a wood other than pine, such as oak. Also, the thickness of the board can make a big difference in how it looks.
  • Again, be careful with the router so as not to burn or crack the wood. It may take a few tries so practice on a scrap piece first. Always wear safety goggles.

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