Parcheesi marbles, also known as “dirty marbles,” is an old-fashioned game played on a large game board carved with tiny, bowl-shaped grooves in which the players' marbles are moved. The simplicity and beauty of the materials required to create a Parcheesi board makes it an excellent home craft and one that requires little in the way of special woodworking tools. Create a game board with the potential to last and be cherished for generations.
Practice grinding marble grooves on pieces of scrap wood to fit the marbles you want to use in your board. Use a rolling motion where you insert the tip of the grinding tool into the wood, then move the tool in a complete circle around the center point of contact, cutting a small bowl shape. Practice this cut on the scrap wood until you can reliably cut a bowl shape of a consistent depth and width. Keep one of your marbles on hand to test your work. Make sure the groove you can cut is shallow enough to cover less than half the height of the marble, or else they will be difficult to remove with your fingers while playing.
Sketch out the Parcheesi board pattern on your square plank, using a pencil. A Parcheesi marble board consists of a central square made of four corner “points” of marble grooves. Attached to each side of this square is an “arm” made from three rows of five grooves, forming an equal armed cross (for a picture of what this looks like, check out the Resource link below). In addition, create four grooves somewhere near each arm in which each player's color marbles are stored before play.
Cut the grooves in the wood using the technique you practiced in Step 1. If you make any mistakes, fill them in with wood putty and cut again later, after the putty has dried.
Sand the wood. Rub across the board by hand using a medium grain sandpaper, then go over it a second time using a fine grain paper. Sand the grooves with the fine grain paper by tearing small pieces of paper, wrapping them around your finger or the eraser end of your pencil, and rubbing them inside the tiny bowl shapes.
Stain and varnish the wood, as desired. Follow the instructions of your stain and/or varnish manufacturer to give the wood a beautiful and weather-durable finish. Be sure to coordinate the color of your stain with the color of your marbles and make sure you like the color combination.