Yard Games: Kubb | Popular Woodworking
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I’m sure you’re thinking, what’s Kubb? The original name, “Kubbspel,” translates (roughly) into “throwing block game.” The goal is simple: knock over wooden “Kubbs” or soldiers by throwing sticks or batons at them, followed by the king. With two teams and a few basic rules, this game is fun for all ages! Plus, it’s super easy-to-build.
Prep with Miter Saw
The Kubb set is made with two Douglas fir 4“ x 4“ pieces, 8‘ long, one 11/4“ poplar dowel (4‘ long), and one 11/2“ poplar dowel (8‘ long). First, plane the Douglas fir to 3“ x 3“. The Kubbs get cut to 6“ long and the King to 12“ long. (You’ll only need 1 King for the game, but there’s enough for an extra king to practice on.) Next, cut the 11/4“ poplar dowel to 8“ long for the stakes and the 11/2“ dowel to 12“ long. A wooden handscrew is a great way to hold the dowel in place so it doesn’t roll or move during the cut.
The last step on the miter saw is to cut one end of the stakes to a point. Set the miter saw at 45° and make the first cut. Rotate the stake 90° and cut again. Repeat this twice more to form the point for your stakes. Do this for the other five stakes.
Onto the Hand Router
To help bring these game pieces to life, let’s add some details using a hand router. For the soldiers, rout a V-shaped groove around all four sides 1“ from the top. Then, to differentiate the teams from each other, rout an additional groove 2“ down from the top on one set of Kubbs.
Since the king is royalty and he has all the bells and whistles, we are going to add a little more detail by giving him a crown and a rounded head. First, make three V-shaped grooves on all sides at 1 1/8“, 3 7/8“, and 4 1/2“ from the top. The first groove is the bottom of the crown, the second is the bottom of the face, and the third is the bottom of his collar. To make his crown a little more crown-like, rout across the top of the king at 1“ and 2“ going both directions. This creates gives the appearance of a crown.
Next Up, Carving
Using a chisel and a knife, round the head of your king. The chisel gets rid of large chips first and the knife helps you refine the shape.
Next, using the carving knife, round both ends of the batons to remove the rough edges so they do not rub against the players’ hands when thrown. Lastly, there are three carved details on the stakes. First, round the top end of the stake. Then add v-shaped groove around the top of the stake about an inch down to give it to the same look as the King and Kubbs. Finally, carve the sides of the stake point to appear round.
All that is left is three final details if you’d like to spice them up. First, use a Dremel to define some dimples in the crown to resemble jewels. Next, add texture to the king and the soldiers with an angle grinder (I used an Arbortech power carving unit). The goal is to create the hammered look of armor used during the Viking era. The texture is added to the bottom half of the king and the top section of the soldiers. Note: When using this tool, think “light as a feather.” You don’t need much pressure at all to get a textured look.
All that’s left is to sand and finish. I used a dark stain on all the pieces with the exception of the top part of the stakes and the batons, which I painted red. Once it’s dry, it’s time for you to see why this game is so much fun!
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