How to Make a Cribbage Board

by A Manly Guest Contributor on November 28, 2012 · 14 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ethan Hagan from One Project Closer.

I love a good card game, and some of my favorites include Spades, Hearts, Hand and Foot, and Euchre. Poker, however, never quite goes my way. Believe it or not, I’ve never played cribbage before. However, when Brett challenged me to make a cribbage board, I thought it would be a lot of fun.

I started reading up on Cribbage rules and found a lot of custom-made boards on the web. I decided on a “classic style” board that follows a design I found on other woodworking sites, and it’s perfect for a moderately skilled woodworker like myself. The board has enough holes to play a 61 point game, as opposed to a 121 point game.

Tools and Materials

To make my crib board I used some scrap 3/4″ pine, 1/4″ plywood, and I purchased some oak from the local DIY center. I printed out a hole template, which I modified to meet my needs. The pegs are made from double-headed nails, which you’ll typically see used to make concrete forms. The two magnets and wood stain are leftovers from other projects.

Pine is a soft wood so it wouldn’t have been too difficult to cut by hand, and by omitting a few steps, the only necessary power tool is a drill press. I have the tools (so I took advantage of them), and here’s what I used.

  • Table saw
  • Dado stack
  • Coping saw
  • Palm router
  • Table router
  • Drill press
  • Sandpaper
  • Angle grinder
  • Bench grinder

Make a Custom Cribbage Board

I started by running my pine through a table saw to create two pieces. The top measured 4 x 12″ and the base measured 5-1/8 x 13-1/4″. I also ripped the 1/4″ ply to match the base.

I wanted to cut a semi-circle on one side of the top, and I started by creating a template. The template is useful because I can tweak it as necessary until I’m completely satisfied, then use it to easily cut a perfect match on my workpiece.

This router bit has a bearing on the end for following templates.

After making a rough cut, I used a palm router and my template to cut a beautiful semi-circle.

For the base, I used another router bit to cut an eased-edge.

Next, I mapped out the locations for the playing card holder, peg holder, magnet, and swivel pin.

I drilled a starting hole and cut out the playing card and peg holders with my coping saw.

For the magnets, I used my palm router again, setting the depth to match their height. Carefully, I routed the magnet holes on the base and underside of the top.

The top and base swivel on a pin to reveal the playing cards and cribbage pegs. Instead of a pin, I cut a machine screw to length and then ground the head as thin as possible. I drilled a hole through the base and part-way through the top.

A nice feature you’ll see on a lot of cribbage boards is a “racing stripe” down the middle. I set up a dado stack on my table saw to cut a channel for the oak inlay.

I made a rough cut for the curve and sanded both ends until the oak was completely flush with the pine top.

As I mentioned, I used double-headed nails to make the cribbage pegs (spilikins). I cut the nails to length with my angle grinder, and then dressed up the cut edge with a bench-top grinder.

I borrowed a drill press and used a 11/64″ bit to drill all the holes. After taping my template in place, aligning the fence, and setting the depth, things moved pretty quickly. Next, I glued the oak to the top and the 1/4″ plywood to the underside of the base.

I gave everything a final pass with sandpaper to remove any pencil marks or glue. Next, I applied a walnut stain to the entire cribbage board, letting the two different species of wood create some visual interest. To distinguish the pegs, I painted one pair a dark red.

What do you think?

Below are the plans for board, in PDF form. Thanks to Robert Heffern for providing them.

Cribbage Board – Bottom Piece
Cribbage Board – Top Piece
Cribbage Board – With Colors


Ethan Hagan owns and operates a home improvement website called One Project Closer. On One Project Closer you’ll learn how to tackle projects with expert knowledge from professional contractors. OPC also provides coupons to home improvement centers like this Home Depot Coupon page. Check out OPC for full details, and follow them on Facebook.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard November 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Nice board. I have a relative who makes similar ones out of brass.

2 JG November 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm

That’s a nice board. Years ago a buddy and I wanted to play cribbage but had no board and no place to buy one. Took a piece of scrap pine that was lying around and marked the holes with a pencil. Hand drill plus drill bit made the holes. We used twigs and matchsticks for pegs. Rustically elegant and simple. Played that board for nearly 6 months before we pulled up stakes just before winter set in. Fun times.

3 Scott November 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

My school’s outdoors club mad one on a moose antler we found. We use matches for the pegs. I always thought it was pretty manly.

4 Alan Grover November 29, 2012 at 7:07 am

I have played cribbage since around 6 years of age. In my family it is a rite of passage to manhood to learn and enjoy this fantastic card game. My son and I got the bright idea to turn one of my wife’s end tables into a cribbage board. I was surprised that she actually let us do it. It came out looking pretty decent. Would love to post a pic, but can’t figure out how.

5 Mark Ruddick November 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

My Grandfather made a cribbage board out of the stock of his rifle he carried while backbacking around Europe in ’44 – ’45.

6 Ted Slampyak November 29, 2012 at 8:58 am

My wife and I just started learning cribbage a few weeks ago, and just taught our daughter last week. It’s a fun game with a long history! Glad to see other men enjoy it too.

7 Andrew Sciba November 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

I made a cribbage board out of a bunch of shotgun shells I had laying around.

8 Dave November 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

Nice board! The racing stripe is a great touch.

I have made a couple of crib boards myself, and I love using really interesting pieces of wood. Woods like quartersawn white oak (although the texture of the grain make the holes hard to count sometimes), flame/tiger, curly, or birdseye maple, bocote, padauk, or rosewood are gorgeous and make for fantastic crib boards. Often, pieces of good crib board size are considered scrap and can be had for very decent prices.

Check out for ideas (no relation to the site).

9 Shannon November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

How cool to see a cribbage board tutorial. If only I had seen this earlier! I’ve been playing for over ten years with my friends. I also made my own cribbage boards, though, due to my nearly complete lack of experience in woodworking is used Ponoko to laser-cut the design and had a real woodworker manager the card drawer. But by using the laser cutting I was able to do a really near tree of life inlay design; see pix here:

10 B November 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Nice job, looks awesome.

Why not just countersink the pivot screw instead of grinding it down?

11 Leif November 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I’m inspired now. I went a thrift store last night to find some random wood nick-nacks that I could cut up into wood for a board with some inlay. Found bamboo, red cedar, and something that looks like zebrawood. Should be fun.

12 Dylan January 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I’m currently in the process of making a cribbage board. Found a 23.5 inch piece of oak in New England (since all pieces 24″ and over were the King’s) that is about a foot wide. Forged my own pegs today with a simple scroll on the end. Very rustic and cool. Probably will be a family heirloom. Oh, and the wood is approximatley 250 years old, or give or take a few decades.

13 Tom October 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I was looking at this early last month but I lucked out and found my old great grandfather’s handmade bridge table just have to restore it :)

14 Richard L. October 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I started playing cribbage when I was about 5. My father worked on the Railroad, and it was something they always did on the trains to pass the time. Just finished designing a cribbage board on Mastercam, and plan on machining it out of Aluminum on a CNC Hass Mill. Will post pictures on my Facebook and provide a link when i get it all finished.

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