Hey there....so you are looking for a unique gift or a project that satisfies the need to build something familiar and fun, well, here it is....a Monopoly Board with a drawer for holding the game pieces and cards.
I was looking to build something for a Christmas gift and after a lot of searching for the right project I found some ideas on building a game board and drawer.
The first thing I had to do was to decide what kind of wood to use. Since I don't have a fully equipped shop it had to be wood that I could easily use that was straight and either finished or not. The other deciding factor was the weight of the game board. I didn't want it to be too heavy, but I did want it to be sturdy and durable.
I found that in the flooring section of your local hardware/ home renovation store there were boxes and boxes of different kinds of hardwood flooring ranging in thicknesses of 3/4" to 3/8". Maple.oak,cherry and sometimes an exotic wood can be found in the flooring department. Be sure that it is real hardwood and not the MDF laminate.
Step 1: Finding the Right Wood
Hardwood flooring that comes in boxes are of varying lengths...some as short as 10" to as long as 36" to 48". The width varies with the type of flooring too. There are flooring boards that are approximately 3" to 6"wide, but a box of flooring have the same size and quite uniform in thickness and width dimensions.The store usually has sample pieces available to see how they look when used as a flooring. This will give you an idea of the properties of the wood grain and colour. For this project one may want to use a lighter hardwood such as maple, birch or ash for the game board section as it will show off the lettering and colours of the properties in the game.I used maple for the game board. The darker wood of the inset is walnut...I'll get to that part soon.
Step 2: How Much Wood Do I Need?
Having an old cardboard Monopoly board I measured out the dimensions of the properties. It is approximately 20" x 20". There is a boarder around the cardboard board so that was included in my measurement. Each property is approximately 1 7/8" x 3". The corner pieces are square and roughly 3"x 3". Finding a flooring that was 3/8" x 3" maple these pieces were what I wanted for the game board. I manufactured the corner pieces from some ash wood just to make things interesting and to match the 3" x 3" square corners to the maple.
Game Board wood
4 pieces of maple 3/8" x 3" x 14" flooring
4 pieces of ash 3/8" x 3" x 3"
The first thing I did was to cut the maple boards on the table saw to get rid of the tongue of the tongue and groove. This gave me one side squared and the other side with the groove. The groove edge was going to be to the outside of the game board. Of course these boards were trimmed to length.
The ash pieces I used a piece of 1" x 4" x 22". Because my table saw had to be set to it's highest cut setting I was very careful when ripping the board to approximately 1/2" x 4. Please use extreme caution when doing this as it can cause serious injury. Use a push stick and go slowly through the saw as it cuts. Safety glasses and protective clothing is recommended.
Taking my belt sander to one of these pieces I tried to smooth it down to the same thickness as the maple boards. Do both sides with the sander. A clamp and a sturdy surface to work on makes this job easier.
Step 3: The Dark Wood
As you can see from the photos, there is a darker underlay of wood....it's walnut that I had available. Since my table saw was set to it's highest cutting height I decided to use some rough 1" x 4" x 22" walnut. Ripping it, as I did the ash, it came out to approximately 1/2" x 4". This would be the underlay for the game board. There has to be enough pieces to make a 20" x 20" panel. The game boards will be glued to this panel.
4 pieces 1" x 4" x 22" walnut ripped to 1/2" x 4" and trimmed to 20"
Edge glue each piece to the other to obtain a panel of approximately 20" x 20". Because the wood I used was in its rough cut form I had to sand the edges prior to glue and clamping. Have all of your clamps ready to use and an area where this panel can cure.
2 bar clamps able to clamp a 20" panel
2 pieces of straight flat material to use to clamp for keeping the thin boards flat and true while edge gluing.
4 to 6 grip clamps to clamp the straight flat material to the top and bottom of the panel.
(I do not have a photo of this process but have included a diagram of how I did it.)
waxed paper to keep any of the glue sticking to the straight flat material from the edge gluing.
Flooring could be used to make the panel as well.
Step 4: Setting Up the Game Board
Once the panel has cured it has to be smoothed and flat. I used my belt sander again to sand the top and bottom of the panel with a course sanding belt and then to a finer grit belt. Continue to examine the panel for equal thickness and flatness? as the maple boards and ash pieces will be glued to this panel. Flooring boards would have been easier to use as they already come flat and uniform in thickness.
Align the maple boards to the top side of the panel with the ash pieces on the corners. Square all the pieces using a framing square and ensure that the maple boards have the grooves to the outside of the panel. Decide if all the pieces are where you'd like them to be before gluing. Rough trimming is allowed and don't worry if the ends are truly flush as they can be covered up with paint or glue.
I marked each piece once I was happy with how they lay on the panel before gluing. Glue each piece one at a time ensuring that they sit square and flush to the edges of the panel. Allow the glue to cure.
Once the glue has cured on all the maple and ash game board pieces to the panel now is the time to mark out each property. Count the number of property spaces from the cardboard Monopoly board and divide the maple board into as many spaces using a pencil and square. There are 11 spaces on each side of the board including the corners...between the corners there are 9 equal spaces. Mark out 9 equal spaces on the maple boards.
Using the framing square, mark out a line approximately 1/2" from the inside edge of the maple game board. Use a light pencil mark as not all spaces have this line...railroad, chance, community chest, luxury tax electric company, waterworks,and income tax spaces do not have these lines. Erase the light pencil mark from these spaces on the game board. Double check with the cardboard board game to where each property is on the game board. This is very important.
Using a Sharpie outline the pencil marks that are left on each property. Use a straight edge to make the lines crisp and straight. Double check that the property space being outlined has or doesn't have the line from the inner edge.
Now for the time consuming part of this project--lettering. Each property is named originally from the streets of Atlantic City N.J. from the Parker Brothers original edition, except Marven Gardens.
First, mark out a fine pencil mark along the length of the maple game board approximately 1 1/4" from the inside edge. Mark another fine pencil line approximately 1 1/2" from the inside edge. These lines will provide a space to print the names of each property. Remember that not all spaces on the game board require this spacing. Print the names of the property in pencil evenly across the light pencil lines, follow the Monopoly game board for names or make up your own. Use the outside edge for the property price tag and mark in pencil first...
Step 5: Properties and Corners
Once the properties are labelled in pencil it is now time to outline with the fine tipped Sharpie marker. Start slow and methodically when outlining the letters. The Sharpie uses ink and may bleed into the wood so it is advised to make the outline fairly quickly and not to rest the marker tip on the wood. Double check the spelling as it is hard to erase marker from the wood once it's printed.
Railroad symbol. Use a scrap piece of thin cardboard or card stock to make a template for the symbol. Draw out a pattern and cut it once satisfied that it will fit in the railroad spaces. Trace the outline onto the wood and using the Sharpie outline and fill in the symbol.
Community Chest symbol. This symbol is a bit tricky but do as you did for the train symbol. Draw out an open chest and cut it from the card stock/ cardboard. Trace it onto the wood and outline with the Sharpie. Don't fill it in as paint will be used to give it some colour. Light blue was used for the base colour, white for the corners and yellow for the gold inside the chest.
Chance symbol. I free-handed this symbol and used white paint and Sharpie to outline it and colour it. As you can see from the photo I forgot that this space is not supposed to have a property line colour across the top of the space and I had to fix this error by filling it in with black paint.
Water Works symbol. Free-hand in pencil first and paint with white. Use Sharpie to outline.
Electric Company symbol. Free-hand in pencil and paint yellow and white, outline with Sharpie.
Luxury Tax symbol. Free-hand in pencil and paint with yellow and white, outline with Sharpie.
The corner symbols and lettering are laid out on the diagonal. Using the pencil mark out equal distant lines for the lettering. These should be fine light pencil marks.
Go symbol, In Jail, Free Parking, Go to Jail symbols and lettering were all free-hand in pencil then painted and outlined in Sharpie.
Step 6: The Game Title
The center title was tricky. I looked up how to transfer images to wood...none of which I was very fond of. I took a picture of the game title and printed it out. I cut it out and placed it in the center of the game board. I thought of gluing it to the wood but wasn't sure if the paper would warp with the use of glue. I decided that I would use the polyurethane to stick it to the board.
First, I put a coat of polyurethane onto the center panel wood and placed the cut-out into place. Pressing it down into the polyurethane and applying another coat onto it. The result was very pleasing. The darker wood grain showed through the paper and the lighter letters seemed to be highlighted.
I used about five coats of polyurethane.
Step 7: The Drawer
This was a bit tricky. There had to be seven places for each of the currency and a place to put the Chance and Community Chest cards and the property cards and the houses and hotels and dice.
I measured out the bills and the cards. The dimensions were close to 2"x4" for the cards and bills. This meant that the width of the drawer would have to be 7 spaces x 2" or 14" long inside dimension and at least 4" wide to hold just the money. I added another 2" onto the width for the Chance and Community Chest cards. The final inside dimension would be 6" wide x 14" in length of the inside of the drawer.
Using some of the 3/8" x 3 hardwood flooring I measured out enough to make the inside dimensions plus 1/2" for the dado in the side pieces. Cut one piece to remove the tongue. Take 2 pieces of the 3/8" flooring and cut a 3/16" dado for each of the spacers between the bills. Ensure that the pieces are flush at the ends when cutting. The boards can now be edge glued again so that they are flush at the ends. The glued panel should be approximately 6 1/2" x 14 1/2". On the drawer panel bottom measure approximately 4 1/4" or to the length of the small inner dado cuts for a spacer and cut this on the table saw.
Measure out enough 3/8" x 3 for the four sides. The left and right sides should be cut to 6 1/2" , the back should be 14 1/4" and the front 14 1/2".
On the table saw, set up the cut depth of 1/4" this will be the depth of the dado cut for the sides of the drawer. The saw blade width was approximately 1/8 " so I would have to make three successive cuts to achieve the correct width of 3/8" to accommodate the bottom panel and the sides. the front panel will have this dado cut on the inside face so the finished side is facing out.
I wanted to start the dado about 1/4" from the bottom of each side so I set the fence on the table saw to this measure. **NOTE** Flooring has one side finished and the other side has dado or kerf marks to prevent the wood from warp and allow it to bend and move without splitting. Be observant of this before cutting the dado or you may cut through the board.
Each of the sides were put through in length to create a 3/8" dado 1/4" from the bottom of the board. Check for fit that the dado will allow the 3/8" thick pieces to fit snuggly.
Fit the left and right sides to the panel and measure the back to gauge where to cut the dado for the left and right sides: mark it and cut these dados on the table saw. Fit the back and both sides to the panel ensuring a snug fit. The front of the drawer can now be measured and gauged to where the dado are to be cut to accommodate the sides. Cut and fit to the drawer. Round over any rough edges and glue together to make the drawer.
Step 8: The Box
With the drawer built, a box can be designed to fit it's dimensions. In my plans I wanted at least 1 1/2" overhang of the game board to the box so I had a 20" game board less 3" to give me a total of 17" The drawer was approximately 14 1/2" so left 2 1/2" or 1 1/4" on each side of the drawer.
Using 3 pieces of the 3/8" x 3" flooring I measured out 17" including the 45 degree mitre cuts for the corners. Since the box sides were as tall as the drawer I needed to add space to the top of the box so the drawer could move freely. I decided to rip approximately 1/2" from other pieces of flooring. The kerf of the saw was large enough that the tongue of the box sides would fit snuggly. this was used as a spacer and a screw board for the game board.