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Marble Solitaire

Handmade wooden marble solitaire board, combining classic strategy with durable craftsmanship.

About the game

Marble solitaire, commonly referred to as peg solitaire, is a board game for one player that involves moving marbles or pegs across a board that has holes in it. By "jumping" marbles with other marbles, the goal is to get rid of as many from the board as possible until there is just one marble in the middle hole.

In the traditional game, all of the marbles on the board except for the center hole are filled. When a marble is taken off the board, the game begins. The player can then jump over a marble to get to an empty hole in any direction (horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally). As a result, for a move to be legitimate, there must be three successive points that are aligned either horizontally or vertically, as well as a marble-marble-empty pattern before the move and an empty-empty-marble pattern after it.

The goal is to remove as many marbles as you can, leaving only one marble—ideally in the board's center. The game is regarded as being extremely challenging because the right movements need extensive forethought.

About the design

My son was young and intimidated by all the power tools I use in the shop, but he was curious in the process of making patterned cutting boards. I regret I don't have any photos of this part of the making, but it is the one he was most engaged with: I had him go through all the scrap materials in my shop and pick two contrasting woods to use. He picked Zebra Wood and Cherry. We cut them in thick & thin stripes (respectively) and glued them together to create the basic pattern. In the following image you can see the base board being set up for a circle cut:

I created a template from thin plywood. This served two purposes - as a guide for the router and to test the size of the holes: I didn't want the marbles to sink more than 40% of their diameter

I then used a core box cutter router bit which could ride along the perimeter of each hole in the template:

The game is now a permanent fixture on our coffee table

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