Score Four Game | Fun Strategy Game in 3-D!

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I had never heard of Score Four until my friend Bill Wilson, who make lots of games, showed me the ones he has been making.  Score Four is a two-person strategy game similar to Connect Four, but with an added dimension. Players take turns dropping a bead onto a rod until one player gets four beads in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  It’s simple to learn and play, but surprisingly challenging to try to outwit your opponent.

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There are a lot of game pieces: 64 beads and 16 rods, so designing a method to contain them all was a big concern. I decided to place the game board in the middle of a box and store the pieces in a gutter surrounding it. Mostly, this woodworking project is about building the storage box. The game board is just a board with sixteen holes drilled in it.

Making a box with a fitted lid

It has been a while since I made a box and lid using this router technique. It’s a little tricky, but once you understand the method and how it works, you will be able to make boxes with perfectly fitting lids every time. Mostly: run tests on everything! I suggest using some inexpensive lumber, maybe pine boards or plywood, to basically build a mock-up as you are building the final box. Plus, if everything works out, you’ll be left with a bonus box.

Start with one long board; long enough to make the four box sides. Be sure to allow room for the waste material created when cutting the miters.  You will make two rabbets and a groove on one face of this board before cutting it into the four side pieces.

Raise a straight bit to exactly half the thickness of your board. In my case, I used a 3/8″ diameter bit and 3/4″ lumber. Half the thickness is 3/8″. Make sure this is accurate.

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I cut a 1/4″ rabbet on one edge (this will be the lid of the box) and a 1/2″ rabbet on the opposite edge.

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The final cut on this board is a 3/8″ wide, 3/6″ deep groove,  1/4″ down from the lid rabbet.

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Assembling the box

I used my miter sled to cut each of the box sides to the same length, then glued the ends together.

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Once the glue dries, you can separate the lid from the rest of the box. This is a bit of a bravery test since you’ve already put so much work into getting the sides perfect! Set the router fence to make a pass around the perimeter. I set mine to cut halfway down the width of the wood. The height of the bit is still set to 3/8″. Ideally, the groove in the inside of the box frame should overlap the groove on the outside of the frame ever so slightly.

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After this first cut, you should be able to see a thin strip a light between the lid and the box. If you don’t, raise the bit slightly and make a second pass. The thinner you can keep this gap, the tighter the lid will fit.

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Once this looks good, don’t make any more adjustments to the router. Make your second cut along the opposite side.

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Once these two sides have been cut, you will need to insert a shim or block to support them when the final two sides are cut. I just taped a couple of scrap boards I had been using as test pieces into the slots. These will prevent the box from collapsing into the router when the final cut is made.

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Now the lid should fit snugly onto the box.

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I cut a square piece of 1/4″ plywood and glued it into the rabbet on the bottom half of the box.

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Extra fancy inlay

I added a decorative inlay to the lid of my box. Obviously, this is optional, but it does serve a bit of a function to conceal any gaps around the plywood.

First, I cut a super-shallow rabbet along each edge of a 1/4″ square plywood board.

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The I cut narrow strips out of thin pieces of oak. It’s pretty easy working with really thin wood; I just cut it with a razor blade.

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I glued the plywood panel into the rabbet along the lid, then glued the inlay strips into the super-shallow rabbet on the plywood.

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Using a chamfer bit, I cut a chamfer along the inside edge of the lid. This gives you a small groove for your fingers and makes opening the box easier.

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Making the game board

The game board is simple. I wanted it to match the box, so I glued together three walnut boards and cut the panel into a square.  I printed out and attached a drilling guide using spray adhesive. then drilled out 16 holes.

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I routed a decorative chamfer along the top edge of the game board, then glued it into the box.

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Game pieces

I bought a long, acrylic rod to use as the bead posts. I just this into 16 pieces. I am really glad I decided to use plastic for these instead of wooden dowels. They slide nicely into the holes without any wobble and the game beads slid onto them easily.

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I bought the wooden beady at a craft store and colored half of them with a dark stain. I also enlarged their holes a bit with my drill so they would slide onto the plastic rods easily.

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Finally, I finished everything (except the acrylic rods!) with spray lacquer.

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Plans

9 COMMENTS

  1. Steve, great project.
    I’m going to make a bunch of these for the local police department toy drive.
    Could you share the size of the beads you used.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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