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Project by Cubby posted 11-14-2013 05:55 PM 1679 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch


Well, I am at it again, using cut-offs, otherwise doomed for the fireplace, as material for a project. The species of this batch of cut-offs are mahogany and basswood.
With Christmas around the corner, I decided to turn these scraps into a familiar game, but larger than the commercial product found in toy departments. I call them, simply, “Stacking Blocks”. The smaller, commercial blocks have the Trademark, “Jenga”. I enjoy this work for several reasons. It hones my skills in milling , hand tools (all final surfaces are smoothed with hand tools, no sandpaper touches this wood) and sharpening ( a sharp hand tool, for me, is truly a joy to use and yields a surface second -to-none). Also, it results in a hand-made gift that makes people happy. Dimensions are made from a 7.5 (length)/ 2.5 (width)/ and 1.5 (thickness) scale. Using ratio and proportion math, I arrive at the final block dimensions limited by the size of the material. I use my power tools to rough out the size of individual pieces and sneak up on the finished surface using hand tools.

This is the sequence I used:

I. Roughout

A. Surfaced one side of each cut-off with a jointer plane.
B. Using a power planer, planed to about 1/8th inch proud of final width.
C. Ripped the pieces to about 1/16th inch proud of final thickness.
D. Complete thickness dimensioning on the power planer
E. Use an edge trimming block plane (Stanley No. 98 or similar) to square and smooth one side of each piece.
F. Rip each piece to final width.
G. Edge trim the side ripped in (F.) to square and smooth.
H. Cross cut to final length
I. Using a power router, chamfer all twelve sides on each piece.

II. Fine tuning

A. smooth the unfinished side with the edge trimming block plane. This assures square edges.
B. Using a Japanese chamfer plane, I make a single pass over each chamfer to remove mill marks from the power router.
C. Using a low angle bench plane (like a Stanley #64) and a Shooting Board, I make a few passes over the end grain.
D. Using a Stanley 41/2 smoother set to produce see through shavings, I make one to two passes over each face.

III. Finish

A. one coat of paste wax is applied
B. Letter press is used to identify different blocks for game variations

-- Ron Baird, Pennsylvania, "WORK HARD, BE GOOD, HAVE FUN"

4 comments so far

View Sanding2day's profile


1014 posts in 2022 days

#1 posted 11-14-2013 09:33 PM

Great idea and nice work, certainly appreciate the extra work put into these pieces above and far beyond the commercial version and I’m sure the stamped instructions for variations add to the enjoyment of the game… Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View doubleDD's profile


7777 posts in 2219 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 01:43 AM

Really cool idea. Nice job with the stamping. I like to see the size ofthe box to store them in .LOL

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Cubby's profile


48 posts in 4315 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 09:32 AM

Thanks for the kind comments. I am putting them into burlap bags for storage.

-- Ron Baird, Pennsylvania, "WORK HARD, BE GOOD, HAVE FUN"

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2351 days

#4 posted 11-19-2013 02:31 PM

Cool project and fun to play with family and friends. Like your big version. Great job!

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