Turn plywood into a portable game

All you and your junior woodworker need to build this captivating game is a few pieces of plywood, an hour of free time and a bag full of marbles

By Rick Campbell


Photo by Kennedy Rose

The object of Last Man Standing is to end up with only one marble remaining on the board. Playing against yourself, start by placing a marble at each hole on the grid, but leave the centre position unoccupied (and leave the marble wells empty). As in checkers, jump over marbles to remove them from the board. Continue until only one piece remains. You can jump vertically and horizontally (as long as you land on an open space), but not diagonally. Plan your strategy carefully, or you may find yourself stranded with no options to continue.


Build the Board

Cut out two 11" square blanks from 3/8" thick plywood. I used Baltic birch plywood because there are fewer voids between the layers. The thin plies also result in an attractive appearance on the exposed edges, eliminating the need to glue on strips of solid wood.

The plans show the layout of marble holes on the top blank. Mark these on your game board piece. Also mark the centre point of the four large, circular corner wells that are used to store discarded marbles. Drill the pattern of uniformly spaced marble holes on the drillpress using a 1/2"-diameter brad point or Forstner bit. These bits drill clean holes with minimal splintering around the lip.

Chuck a 2 1/2"-diameter hole saw in the drillpress, and bore the large corner marble wells

Head over to the router table and use a 45/ bearing-guided chamfer bit to bevel the top edges of the game board and the perimeter of the round marble wells in the corners.

Glue the game board to the base panel. Sand lightly with 220-grit paper and apply a few protective coats of polyurethane. Now, you’re ready to play.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Game board Baltic birch plywood 3/8" x 11" x 11" 1
Base panel Baltic birch plywood 3/8" x 11" x 11" 1

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools


Turn plywood into a portable game

Illustration by Len Churchill

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