Veneer Backgammon Board

Veneer Backgammon Board Part 1

i HAVE to begin by telling you I have been wanting to make a backgammon board for a very long time. So this project already has a bit of SENTIMENTAL value to me. I don’t know why this project has stuck out to me. I think it has to do with the simple, complex nature of the pattern. To look at the board pattern at first glance it looks easy. When you really start to break it down and think about it, how cut it how assembly it. It’s not as easy as you might think. lets take a closer look at the board.

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Many ideas has crossed my mind over the years on how to build this board. I thought at first was to cut out each triangular piece at the table saw with different types of wood. I soon realized although it could be done and has done. I would never get the results I really want. Veneering the board was the way to go for me. I could get more repeatable cuts and i could easily fine tone it. So the next step was to learn veneering.  Well let me tell ya, There are many videos and instructions on this topic. I landed  advise from a good friend of mine, Guy Dunlap. Really it was that I didn’t know the steps it was the conference to start this adventure then anything. I was at Guy house one day we was chatting about veneer work. Then I mentioned that I would like to do this board. He then shown me a few things about it. From that point it was going to happen.   Here what I did.

My idea was to have a template to cut out the triangular parts. Sense the part are all the same I only need one template. I also want to make the template last for ever. So I decided to make it out of aluminum. This created another issue. How am I going make that perfect template? When ever I use the words template, last for ever and perfect only one thing to mind CNC. Another good friend of mine Dave Gatton.  Has his own business selling CNC so who better to ask for a favor. I send measurements to Dave and ask if he could cut these parts out of the CNC using aluminum. He of coarse said no problem.

Image on the left is the main piece needed. On the right this will complete the pattern at the end/edge. This also is taking account for a 1/4″ that will be inserted into a dado later in the project. Dave cut these perfectly!! With out these template this project would have been a lot more time consuming and harder.

So now what the fun part begins. Starting a project you wanted to make for years is more nerve racking then the glue up later for this project. The only way to start is to make that first cut.

I setup a cutting board at the computer desk and just went at it. I clamped the part made by Dave to the counter over the veneer and traced out with a good X-Acto knife I must say, I did end up going through about 5 blades in this process so get  extra #2 blades. You need about 60 parts to complete the pattern. My advise take many breaks and take your time. the more accurate you make these cuts the less time you need to clean up the pieces.

Now that the parts are cut out. In order to get them to joint together you have to joint each edge together. With a great tip from Guy Dunlap use a sanding block with the veneers sandwiched between two boards. This really worked well. Watch the video for more comprehension it will make more sense.

This is 1/2″ of the pattern of one board. need to do this 4 times.

The center section was a lot easier it consist of two  1/4″ strips and a 2 1/2″ piece. Those part also need to be jointed. I cut these strips using the X-Acto knife and ruler. Jointed or edged each side for the next step.

It’s finally ready to put together into one full panel. Remember to edge each and every joint to each other. I used painters tape to hold the joints together. I also was very careful to make the pattern correct this is not something you want to do twice. Don’t ask me how I know that.

When you get one done you can repeat the process.

Now we have to make a back panel that is one sheet of veneer or like in my case I jointed two pieces together to make on large piece. Make this part larger then you need.

Now, the hard part. I don’t have a vacuum press. That would be ideal for this. Here a link for more information.  I have to do this old fashion style with clamps. I’m using a plastic resin glue made by DAP. You have to mix the glue power with water. Pour the glue on the 1/4″ MDF and spread with a roller. Place the backing veneer on then flip it over on a 3/4″ board wrapped in wax paper. Then apply more glue and the game board. Place another 3/4″ plywood with wax paper. Next do the same glue procedure with another 3/4″ plywood on top. CLAMP THE HELL OUT IT.  As many clamps as you own and can fit on this glue up the better. Or buy a vacupress system.

Once you let the glue dry over night. You can remove the clamps and true up the panels. True up all four sides. and should have two panels that are identical.