The Tic Tac Toe board is an easy project to incorporate some division and geometry, as well as to introduce students to the drill press. There are many ways to simplify the project for beginners, including pre-cutting the square boards, simplifying the hole placement and drilling with jigs, using golf tees instead of cutting dowel pegs, etc. Thanks to Ryan Gough from Cowichan School District for the project idea and photo!
Tools & Materials
- small square of wood (eg, 5-1/2" length of 2x6 SPF)
- 10 golf tees, 15" of dowel, or other similar cylindrical objects
- sand paper, 80-220 grit
- two different colours of non-toxic paint or stain
- non toxic wood finish, eg, spray lacquer or butcher block finish
- tape measure
- back saw
- speed square
- straight edge
- safety glasses
- drill press or hand drill
- twist bit no more than 1/16" larger in diameter than pegs/dowel
- optional: masking tape
- c-clamps or similar
- sanding block
- hand saw (if cutting dowel for pegs)
- paint brush
- brush or cloth, depending on chosen finish
Use the speed square to make sure the end of your board is square (90 degrees). If not, draw a perpendicular line with the speed square near the end of the board, and saw along that line using a back saw (using a mitre box if necessary).
Use the tape measure to determine the width of the board, then mark that distance back from the board's end. Use the speed square to draw the line across the board, and saw along that line to give you a square piece of wood.
Look at your wood square, and decide which side you want to be "up". Measure and record the piece's length and width.
Use calipers to measure the diameter of the pegs you are using, and choose a twist bit no more than about 1/16" larger.
Secure the twist bit in the drill press and set it up to drill holes halfway through the board thickness. If using a hand-held drill, use a small piece of masking tape on the bit to indicate the desired hole depth. Consider making a test hole in a scrap of wood first and checking the fit with one of your pegs before drilling all your holes.
Put on your safety glasses, and drill the 9 top holes and 1 side hole, securing the board as necessary with clamps or jigs.
Sand the board, tidying up the holes, smoothing imperfections, and sanding away the pencil marks.
Apply your chosen non-toxic finish to the board.
If using golf tees or found cylindrical objects, paint or stain 5 one colour and 5 a different colour.
If using dowel, use a small saw to cut off 1.5" lengths of dowel until you have 10 pegs. Smooth them with sand paper, then paint/stain them as in the previous step.
Find a buddy to play with and have fun!
Cut the board to make a square piece
Planning the hole placement
Drill the holes
Finish the board
Make the playing pegs
- To practice using power tools, you could try using a table saw to cut shallow grooves where you drew your perpendicular pencil lines, or rounding the edges using a router, etc.
- Create a tic tac toe board for marbles: drill shallow holes with a Forstner bit or a plunge ball router bit for the marbles to sit in while playing. Drill out deep storage holes for the marbles in the side of the board and create a stopper to secure them inside.
- Look up different peg or marble games and then design and make your own custom version (try searching out "cat and mouse game", marble solitaire, etc.)