Submarine Ukers Game Boards

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Project by CowanNavy posted 04-22-2012 09:34 PM 3042 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was commissioned to reproduce an ukers board that someone had had made several years ago. The edges and one of the home ports (large squares) are made of Koa. the other home ports and the corresponding final strip are made of Bloodwood, Purple heart, and Mango. The dove tail slots in the home ports are made of Snake Wood.

The game tracks around the board are made of Birds Eye Maple. All of those squares are not cut out individually (would have taken WAY too much time considering I only had 2 weeks to finish these things). They are simply 3,4, and 5 square strips with a 45 degree V-groove routed to make the squares. The center tracks are actually 6 squares long with the last square cut off at 45deg to make the final winning square in the middle. The tracks for the drawer and the drawer sides are made of some scrap poplar I had sitting around. The bottom of the drawer is simple Utility Birch Plywood which was sealed and flocked with medium blue flocking.

The game pieces are made of the same wood that they are meant to play on (i.e. the Koa pieces belong to the person playing with the koa home port, etc), and turned on the lathe to a cylinder. Then I simply cut off pieces from the cylinder and sanded the top and bottom of the game pieces. The lighter strip (birds eye maple) in the bloodwood and mango pieces are to make it easier to distinguish which pieces are which in lower light.

Sanded the whole thing down to 600 grit (all of those grooves were a real pain since I had to do them by hand), then finished with Feed & Wax. Allowed the wax to dry and finished with 6 coats of Minwax Semi Gloss Poly and then rubbed down with #0000 steel wool. All comments critiques and questions are welcomed

Thanks for looking


I was looking through the comments and noticed someone who commented on keeping the blondness (is that a word?) of the maple. I found out how to do maintain the color of the maple when I started the second set of boards and told my Senior Chief the problem I had had with the first set and the maple changing color as i sanded. One way to keep the maple blonde, especially when doing the sanding with multiple species at the same time, use a good sanding sealer and let it dry completely before assembling and gluing. I actually used a fairly heavy coat and did it multiple times on top of that (might have been overkill but better safe than sorry… again) since there was a lot of heavier sanding at first in order to get all of the surfaces level with each other. Probably one of the better tips he has ever given me since after that I started making a couple of jewelry boxes with maple and ebony (not finished yet but I will post them when they are)

-- ET1 (SS) Cowan, Bremerton, WA - (I'll come up with a witty quote later)

6 comments so far

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 3582 days

#1 posted 04-23-2012 02:15 AM

Nice job! It sure beats the cardboard square coloured in with felt tip pen version we used to play on. Uckers was my favourite crew room game. I’m still not sure how a Navy game made it onto a RAF base though!

View CowanNavy's profile


28 posts in 2505 days

#2 posted 04-23-2012 05:21 AM

Well from what the Captain that commissioned it told me it originated with the British Royal Navy and the Australian Navy.

-- ET1 (SS) Cowan, Bremerton, WA - (I'll come up with a witty quote later)

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 3582 days

#3 posted 04-23-2012 05:28 AM

That’s right. As far as I know it’s almost unheard of outside a few Navies which is a pity as it’s a great game.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2699 days

#4 posted 04-23-2012 11:42 AM

As a wooden game nut I’ve got to say I like this a lot. Hard to believe you’ve only been doing woodworking for a little while, for the execution here is very good indeed. You’ve done an admirable (is that a navy term?) job keeping the maple blonde and the details crisp. Now I’ll have to look this one up. Nicely done.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View CowanNavy's profile


28 posts in 2505 days

#5 posted 04-23-2012 12:09 PM

if you want to build on make sure you pay attention to where the starting point is. I didn’t the first time (this is the 2nd set I have made). Apparently you are supposed to play the game clockwise not counter clockwise. Just a tip learned the hard way

-- ET1 (SS) Cowan, Bremerton, WA - (I'll come up with a witty quote later)

View Steve187's profile


34 posts in 2529 days

#6 posted 04-24-2012 03:59 AM

This game board you have built is absolutely amazing. Fantastic job!
I hate to admit it but I’ve never heard of ukers and I spent 6 yrs in USN-Atlantic Fleet, SubFlot6 (USS Amberjack SS-522). Diesel Boat

-- Steve (North Louisiana, near Ruston)

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