Backgammon is among the oldest table games in the world, and backgammon boards in all shapes and sizes have been around for just as long. Tou can add your own unique board designs to this long line of predecessors. This article covers the standard sizing and overall design of the boards, but you may want to add your own embellishments, colors and designs to make your board stand out.
Measure off the playing field on the wooden board. If you purchased tournament-standard size checkers, they should be 1.75 inches in diameter. You will want twelve of these to be able to sit comfortably across the center of your playing field. This will give you the measurement for the width of the board. It should come to around 21 to 22 inches. To find the length of your board, lay 13 checker pieces side-by-side. This will give you enough room for 12 pips (the colored triangular markings on the board), six on each home side, and room in the center for your captured checkers to sit. Your board length should come to around 23 to 24 inches. Once you have determined the size of your playing field, center it on your wooden board, and mark off borders. You'll want to have at least 1 to 2 inch borders---more if you plan to build raised borders around your playing field (see photograph for an example of raised wooden edges).
Begin marking the pips. Each quadrant of the backgammon board has six pips. Leave space between the left-hand and right-hand quadrants for captured checkers to sit. At the base, pips should be about the same width as the checkers, 1.75 inches. You can have them narrow as sharply or as gradually as you'd like. Keep in mind that on traditional boards, five checkers can sit on one pip, and you will still see the tip of the pip protruding beyond the fifth checker. Use a ruler to keep the pips even and straight.
Decide which two colors you will use. Traditionally, the rightmost pip on the home side of the board (the one facing you) is the lighter color. For example, if you choose red and black for your colors, paint the pip on your right-hand side red, then every other pip moving counter-clockwise from there should be red. If you have done this correctly, when you reach the last pip on the right-hand side of the board opposite you will be black.
Allow the paint to completely dry. Finish the wood to prevent damage in the future. Depending on the look, you can use stain, oil or varnish to finish your board. Varnish should provide you with the most durable coating. Consult the manufacturer warnings and suggestions. Some varnishes require that you dilute the first coat with mineral spirits to seal the wood. To apply, dip the foam brush into the varnish and brush along the wood, moving with the grain. Let this coat dry for 6 hours before you apply a second coat. You can put on anywhere from 2-5 coats, but 2-3 should be enough for the normal wear-and-tear your board will receive.
If you wish, you can add wood trim to the board, or hinge it in the center so that it can be folded in half for easier storage.
Things You'll Need
- 25 by 27-inch board or larger
- 1.75-inch diameter standard-sized checkers
- 2 paint colorst
- 2 pair six-sided dice
- 1 six-sided doubling die (marked with the numerals 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64)
- Wood varnish, stain or oil
If you are adding trim or hinging the board, do this before you apply the varnish.
Ellen Goodlett has been a writer since 1999. Her work has been published in the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" and "Nimbus" magazine. Goodlett holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and languages from Bryn Mawr College.