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diy project: kubb — the swedish lawn game

by Matt


My kind of sport involves hanging out with friends and, most of the time, having a drink. Bowling is what we do most of the time, but now that it’s sunny and nice out, it feels strange to be indoors while there’s daylight. Bocce is fun, but it requires a very specific court condition that is not easy to create. Enter Kubb, a Swedish lawn game. It’s easy to make a set, and it’s much safer to drink and play Kubb than it is to bring out your antique set of lawn darts. A set can be made with nothing more than a clothes rod, a 6 ft. 4″ x 4″ post and a saw. — Matt

The full project instructions continue after the jump . . .

Materials

  • one 6 ft. long 4″ x 4″ post — untreated fir, pine
  • Danish oil or other oil finish
  • sandpaper
  • rag to apply finish

Tools

  • saw for ripping — table saw works best
  • saw for cutting — miter saw or hand saw
  • sander

Instructions

1. The most inexpensive way to build a set is to start with a 6 ft. 4″ x 4″ post and some dowel clothes rods from your nearest lumberyard. Official Kubb makers suggest using a hard wood, since you’re going to be chucking the pieces at each other, but for the occasional Kubb match, you should be fine with a Douglas Fir post or whatever is best grown in your area. (Do not buy pressure-treated lumber for this — the chemicals in them are numerous and released when the wood is cut.) Being the wood snob that I am, I actually went with some Western Walnut shorts from Goby Walnut, but this is only because it’s nearly as cheap, since they salvage lots of old walnut trees. It was about $30 for enough walnut to create all the pieces. I used birch dowels for the batons, which are inexpensive and readily available at most wood/hardware stores. If you’re having trouble finding dowels large enough, you can always use a wooden clothes rod.

2. You can cut all of your main pieces from the 6 ft. post, which makes buying materials easy. First, cut a 12” section off for your King piece; then you’ll need to rip the remaining stock down to a 2.75” x 2.75” size. This is most easily done on a table saw, or if you have a guide attachment on your circular saw, that works well, too. Once your post is slimmed, cut it into equal lengths for each Kubb piece. Typically, each piece is 6” tall, but it will be slightly less to accommodate the amount a blade takes out with each cut.

3. Once my pieces were cut, I beveled all the edges with a sander and used the table saw to make some decorative cuts into the King. You can carve some interesting shapes, cuts and crowns into your King and even add some painted stripes to make it stand out.

4. You’ll need a 6 ft. dowel clothes rod to make your batons, which should be cut to 6 equal lengths. As for field-marking stakes, you can use any dowel size, since their purpose is just to mark field territory. If you can get an 8 ft. clothes rod, just cut 6″ stakes out of that extra bit.

5. After cutting all pieces, I roughly sanded everything and coated the field pieces with Danish oil. This part isn’t really necessary, but the oil will provide some protection when you’re launching the pieces around. Oil is a good choice, since it soaks into the wood and hardens, whereas a polyurethane is a surface-based protector. When you’re dinging field Kubbs with a baton, the oil won’t chip like poly would.

6. As for playing the game, it’s strategic but easy to grasp. You can play with 2 to 12 folks, and a match can last between 20 minutes and a couple hours, depending how good your aim is. There are lots of places for good instructions here and here and plenty of funny videos — two of the more interesting ones are here and here.

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Comments

  • Wow, great game. Thanks for the introduction, as well as how to create your own. I love that you can play it with such a range of people.

    Another great game that I am surprised hasn’t left the Midwest yet is Bags. It is easy to play with a nice cold beverage in your hands and if you don’t have a lot of space to play is a perfect game because you stand in the same spot.

    http://thirdcoastbags.com/default.aspx
    http://www.cornhole-game.org/bean-bag-toss-game.html

  • This is super cool. However, your comment about bocce “…but it requires a very specific court condition that is not easy to create.” is only true if you’re playing regulation bocce. We find the uneven lawn makes it more challenging and infuses a little chaos into our games :-)

  • this game is so much fun – we played it in a city park in germany with friends who brought it back from sweden … we played for hours and had a blast. forgot all about it until now. will have to try and make one!

  • A friend of mine made a Kubb set last year and it’s a brilliant game to play in the park on a Saturday- you can hold a beer/burger/child with one hand and throw with the other. The only issue this friend has is transporting it. It makes for a very heavy rucksack

  • I played this game a few years ago and loved it! I could never remember what it was called, so I have been unable to purchase a set of my own. Thanks to your DIY post, my summers will now have purpose as I school everyone in kubb. Thanks, Matt!!

  • I was JUST talking about DIYing this game after playing it in Sweden last week! It was such a blast that I contemplated carrying a set home in my carry-on luggage…I think DIY will be a better choice. Ha ha!

  • This looks like a really fun game to add to the rotation this summer. However, I agree with Amy regarding your comment about bocce. My friends and I play what we call All-Terrain or Extreme Bocce, it makes the game that much more interesting!

  • I love this game!! It reminds me of my favorite Swedish friends that I miss dearly. It takes me right back to their London garden party’s with good friends, food, drinks and a fun game of Kubb. This is my kind of game, competitive but nonthreatening! Horseshoes (hey hey Texas) is similar and fun for the same reasons.

  • Between the beard, the beer cups, the doug firs and the weird lawn game… that must be Portland. Which park?

  • Ha ha! Other Colleen, you are spot on. We were playing in Alberta Park off Killingsworth.

    I’m happy that there’s so many Kubb fans out there! Glad you all liked the post. And I take my bocce court judgements back… I’ll have to try a game on the unevens now.

  • I highly recommend checking out the Finnish game, Palikka. You can play Kubb with this set as well. My friends back home hand make these sets. We have bought several sets for our families who just adore the game.

    http://www.palikkagame.com/

  • Ha, how funny! I was just playing Kubb up on Mt. Tabor here in Portland earlier this week and so many people came up to us asking what we were doing and where they could buy a set. I brought mine over from Sweden, so I unfortunately couldn’t help them out. But should more people ask next time, I’ll have to recommend this post.

  • Gosh I am sooo excited about finding this post!! I have never played the game, but want to ask my step-son to make a set for the next family outing. From reading the postings, I think everyone would have a blast playing this game and he does have enough room to play it too! Thanks so much Matt!

  • Nice!

    1.) I got married in that park and recognized it instantly!
    2.) Played this game once at the beach and could never remember what it was called! So excited to re-learn about it.

    Thank you!

  • Aww! I love this. I played it yeeears ago with my exboyfriend & friends on new years night & we had SUCH a blast trying to distract the other team with noises & flashlights, hilarious. Thank you for this great tutorial, I’ll def. get a set together & play it again while the sun still shines from time to time.

    All the beste from germany ;)

  • Brilliant. I’m going to make my own set soon. I’ve just finished making Kubbuteo sets [indoor Kubb, basically] and this will be next

  • Found this and love the idea! Made mine from bits and pieces lying around in the shop. Out of pocket cost…zip, nada, zilch! Now all I need are a few folks to head to the yard and chuck sticks.

  • Fir? Or is that walnut I spy? Very pretty, and oh that smell when cutting it. I would feel bad throwing things at those.

  • Great game. Little children can easily compete with adults. 2-6 people can play comfortably. very easy to make. I cut and my kids sanded and oiled. I used 4cm dowel that cost about $35. I found it difficult to buy thick untreated wood so the Kubb’s are made from crate packaging wood that the local hardware shop gave to me free of charge and the King was two 4×2 lengths that I mitred and glued together so the top is ‘V’ shaped.

    All the wood is pine so it is soft wood. A few dents already in the batons. A building project for the family and the result is a game that will last forever.

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