Canadian Woodworking
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Make a tic-tac-toe board

Author: Evan
Photos: Evan
Published: April May 2023
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Playing tic-tac-toe is a fun family game. Making one can be just as fun.

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  • DIFFICULTY
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  • LENGTH/TIME
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  • COST
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You can make a tic-tac-toe board any size, and use any hard­wood, as long as it’s square. My finished maple board was 8-1/4″ × 8-1/4″ × 3/4″. Large boards displayed in the liv­ing or dining room are fun to play. Smaller travel versions would be great to have on long road trips.

Cut the Grooves
A router table can be used to cut the epoxy grooves. You could also use a table saw. Just be extra careful when machining a small board. In that case you might want to leave the workpiece long and machine the grooves before cutting the blank to finished size.

Cut the Grooves

Square It Up
Make sure the solid wood blank is square so the gaps between the series of lines will be equal.

Square It Up

Add Edges
Solid wood edges made of contrasting species will dress up the board and give it a finished look.

Add Edges

Sand It Smooth
When the epoxy has cured, sand the surface smooth.

sand it smooth

Make it square

I dressed the board flat, then squared it up on the jointer and saw. The important thing is that the wood blank needs to be square.

I used epoxy to fill two 3/8″ wide vertical and two horizontal grooves to make the lines on the board. I laid out the grooves to be routed so they left even gaps between them. I used my router table to rout the grooves, setting the fence to leave me with even gaps. If you don’t have a router table, you can use a handheld router instead, though you have to ensure the router is guided properly while making the grooves. This isn’t advisable on a small board. A table saw, using either a dado blade or multiple passes, is also an option. Whatever your approach, use caution if you’re making a small board.

After routing the grooves, I cleaned them out to get rid of any sawdust. Next came the epoxy to fill the grooves. There are differ­ent types to choose from. The drying time will depend on the type of epoxy you choose. Since this project wasn’t a rush, I chose to use a deep-pour epoxy resin which requires three to five days to cure. Read the epoxy instructions carefully.

Before I poured the epoxy, I taped all four edges with packing tape to prevent the epoxy from leaking out. Make sure the edges are sealed well.

Colourful options

With epoxy, you can choose any colour pigment you want. A pinch or two’s worth of pigment should do. I used black so it would contrast well with the maple. I calculated the amount of epoxy needed for each strip by using length × width × height divided by 61. This will give you the exact amount of epoxy in litres needed for each strip. Next, I mul­tiplied the number of litres by four to give the total amount of epoxy required for all four strips. Mix up the epoxy and pigment for five to 10 minutes and pour it into the grooves. Once you pour the epoxy, let it dry.

If you don’t want to use epoxy, you can make a contrasting wood inlay to fill the grooves. In this case, you’ll have to machine two grooves, add in the wood inlay and let it dry before machin­ing the two other grooves in the opposite direction.

Sand it smooth

Once dry, sand until the board is flush. I sanded the board to 120 grit using my drum sander which made the process faster. If you don’t have a drum sander, a regular hand held sander will do. I trimmed the board edges very slightly and glued on walnut strips to cover them to give the board a clean, classic look. My trim was just under a 1/4″ thick. I cut four pieces of trim to rough length and then cut 45° angles on their ends and glued the trim onto each side of the board. I used 23g pin nails to attach the trim, though you could probably get away with just a simple edge joint, even on the end grain portions. I let it dry and sanded the trim flush.

I then sanded the board to 500 grit. If using rubber feet on the bottom, drill the holes first, and then oil the board. I used a hard-wax oil, as it’s easy to apply, durable and adds a nice colour to the wood. Before screwing in the rubber feet, I wiped off the excess oil.

To create the “X”s and “O”s, I used 1/4″ maple plywood. I printed a template for the “X”s and “O”s and cut them out using the bandsaw. Next, I gave them a quick sand to smooth out the edges and painted them black.

 


Evan - [email protected]

Evan is a 13-year-old woodworker from Toronto. He started his business when he was 10 years old and donates a portion of each of his sales to SickKids Foundation. When he’s not busy in school or in the shop, he loves to go to camp.

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