Friday, May 22, 2015
Late last year, I attempted to build a cribbage board using inlaid materials and I blogged about my failures early this year. I kept at it when the garage temperatures were warm enough to work comfortably and then later, when I wasn't doing some outside project that needed to be done before temperatures got so hot. Finally a week before we left for Boston, I finally called the project complete and the pictures above and below are the result.
I used kamagong wood from the Philippines that had an interesting pattern to it. Kamagong trees start out the light tan color that you see and as they age, they slowly turn to a dark ebony color. It is a hard wood to work with because of it's hardness and the fine powder like quality of the wood when sanded. The residual "soot" gets everywhere and stains everything it touches. I made the box first and then cut the lid off from the rest of it. I inlaid the lid with a chunk of lighter colored mahogany that I had leftover so that I could burn some basic scoring information onto the bottom of the lid. I also made a compartment for the pegs and a larger one for a couple decks of cards. I also lined it with green felt to quiet down the rattling pegs and to also allow me to not have to finish sand the inside corners and edges of a small box which would have taken forever.
The woodworking parts of the project went well and I am reasonably happy with how it turned out. The finish however, I could have done better. I used some leftover polyurethane from a previous project and applied several coats to the box, inside and out but wasn't happy with how things turned out. I was using disposable foam brushes to apply the finish and I think they were leaving particulates behind. I would sand them out but by then had sanded through the finish so that the next coat was essentially starting over every time. The polyurethane would take days to dry out between coats and in places never seemed to fully dry and remain a bit gummy. Finally I bought a new can of polyurethane which solved the latter problem and I went from several days of curing down to only a few hours. I experimented with various brushes and clothes to apply the finish but had a hard time getting it to look even. I would sand it down to get that even look but lose the luster of the sheen. Finally I just called it good, never getting that satisfactory look. I think I may try to shine it up with some beeswax or something to see if that helps.
The template that I bought to drill all the holes came with metal cribbage pegs for scoring so at long last, I have a board that should stand the test of time. All the cheap boards I have owned with plastic pegs over the years have all ended up with stubs of broken pegs permanently blocking various holes. I need to start up family games of cribbage again and perhaps someday, one of my daughters can use this board to teach their kids how to play cribbage.