This post is sponsored by Rockler Woodworking And Hardware. Some projects are built for utility. Others are just for show. But this one’s all about the fun. It’s a game that’s sure to entertain family, friends and even your enemies, who may spontaneously befriend you just for a chance to play. This quarter hockey game board was designed in our on-going effort to give Home Fixated readers fun, unique projects that are accessible to woodworkers of all skill levels. If you’d like to get many dollars worth of fun out of a single quarter, you’ve come to the right place!
Saw This Coming From A Quarter Mile Away
This is my fourth generation quarter hockey game board design (not counting a 3-player version I’ve yet to actually build). If you’d like to see the various iterations along my evolutionary journey with this classic game, check out the segment following the play instructions at the end of this article.
Hit The Ice – Cutting The Playfield
This 2-player game works by flicking a U.S. Quarter with your finger in a fast-paced race to 10 goals. The playfield is built on a piece of melamine cut to 19-1/2” x 25-1/2”. For the ultimate playfield, however, face a piece of 3/4” MDF or particleboard with countertop laminate and contact cement, as I did with my largest quarter hockey game board (the one before this one).
For convenience and accessibility, 3/4″ melamine does the trick just fine. I purchased mine from The Home Depot for just under $15 and cut it to size with my table saw. While I was there, I also grabbed a roll of matching melamine edge banding.
Melamine can be tricky to work with. The thin plastic coating likes, nay, loves, to chip while cutting and drilling, but there are ways to minimize the problem. Drill the playfield holes with bits having outer spurs. Preferably brad point and Forstner bits.
If you have a blade with a high tooth count (60 teeth or higher), use it. In this case, I used a regular 42-tooth wood blade, which will work if the teeth are clean, sharp and you follow the steps outlined below. Or you can use a blade made specifically for laminates.
There are slightly different schools of thought with regards to cutting melamine on a table saw. Here’s how I usually do it:
First, make a few passes with a razor knife to score the cut line on both faces. Next, make a shallow scoring cut – at the table saw – on one face, on the waste side of the razor line.
Finally, keeping the scored face down, raise the blade barely high enough to peek all the way through and make a second pass to complete the cut. Take care to perfectly align to the previous cut and be sure the material doesn’t shift in the process. I have the workpiece clamped to the sled, ensuring everything stays in alignment.
Some people also like to cover the cut line on both sides with masking tape. I’ve tried that a few times in the past, with mixed results. When you’re done, select the cleanest face as the play surface.
Edge Banding The Quarter Hockey Game Board
Unless you have access to a teenie tiny Zamboni, the best way to treat the exposed edges is with iron-on edge banding. It can usually be found at the home center, right next to the melamine boards. It’s inexpensive ($4 will get you way more than you’ll need for this project) and incredibly easy to use.
A regular clothes iron, a fresh razor blade and a firm roller are all that’s needed to edge band the quarter hockey game board. I use this hard rubber brayer, which is available from many craft and big box stores.
Cut a strip of banding a little longer than the edge you’re working on. It’s slightly wider than the thickness of the melamine board, so center it the best you can, allowing it to overhang the ends.
Slowly move the iron back and forth several times along the length of the board. Make sure you’ve sufficiently melted the adhesive (you’ll be able to see it gooping up at the edges).
Once the adhesive has sufficiently melted, use a brayer, glue roller, rolling pin, large wooden dowel or even your hand and a rag to apply firm pressure. Work from the center, out towards each end. As the adhesive cools, switch to long strokes from end to end. Make sure to get good adhesion with no air bubbles. Work it until it’s sufficiently cooled, reheating trouble areas if needed.
Finally, use a fresh, sharp razor blade (or specialty edge banding trimmer, like this one by Fastcap) to carefully cut the overhang flush with the ends and edges. First, do both short or both long edges and trim the ends. Then do the other two edges.
Making The Quarter Borders – Quarter Hockey Game Board
Next, I began securing the borders. Mexico wouldn’t pay for it, so I decided to upcycle some ¾” thick maple baseboard moulding I’ve had laying around the shop forever now. Select pine boards from the home center will work just fine, but I prefer a denser wood – such as maple, poplar or oak – because the coin seems to ricochet a little better; like billiard balls off of fresh pool table rail cushions.
The border rails should be 3/4” thick by 1-1/2” tall. Cut a 45° angle on one end. Then mark for the other end and make that cut. For more information on the Rockler table saw crosscut sled I’m using, you can find our crosscut sled review article here.
Make sure the borders extend all the way to the corners of the melamine.
Indexing The Quarter Hockey Game Board Borders
The playfield borders will be doweled to the melamine. Situate and clamp the borders firmly in place. Then use a square to mark three locations on each of the 4 sides. The dowels don’t have to be spaced perfectly evenly. Just fairly centered and near the ends. Locate the dowels a good inch or two from the mitered cuts, not right at the very ends.
Finally, label the board and bottom of each rail so you can keep track of which goes where.
Drilling The Borders For Dowels
This project was made – in part – with the aid of various tools and accessories supplied by our sponsor, Rockler Woodworking & Hardware. You can get by without them, but I specifically chose these items to make this project easier.
To accurately drill the holes, I used Rockler’s 3/8” doweling jig. This jig provides for very sturdy construction with 2 holes at each position, for a total of 6 dowels per border rail.
The 3/8” dowels I used are a little over an 1-1/4” long. I want about 1/2” deep into the board and the rest into the borders rails. So I drilled these holes 7/8” deep, allowing for a little glue space.
Color Me Impressed! – Aesthetic Appeal For The Quarter Hockey Game Board
Now’s a good time to paint the border rails. Paint the inside, outside and top faces. Also get the outer edges of the mitered surfaces (in case any shows after assembly). But leave the bottom edge and most of the miters (except for the very edges, as I said) bare.
Drilling The Quarter Hockey Game Board To Attach The Borders
In order to use the doweling jig on the playfield, you’ll need to first clamp a piece of wood flush with the edge of the board. Then clamp the jig to that piece. Don’t try to hold it in place by hand; odds are, you’ll end up with alignment errors. Melamine may chip out during this process. But it’ll be hidden, so it’s of little concern.
Quarter Hockey Game Board – Playfield Layout
We’ve provided a collection of overall and close-up large-sized photos of the pattern for you to download as reference. From them, you can glean all the information required to lay out your own board: Patterns for quarter hockey game board
The actual playfield (minus the borders) measures 18” x 24”. Carefully lay it out on poster board. Then tape your pattern to the melamine to transfer the key locations.
Power Play – Some Tips For Laying Out The Playfield
The layout stage should be done carefully, with attention to detail and careful measurement. So take a couple hours and do it right. First, cut a piece of poster board (the thin stuff, not foam core) to 18” x 24”.
Find the middles of all four edges and use a framing square to connect those points along the X and Y axes. Some of the measurements are referenced off of these two centerlines. So measure twice, draw once. You don’t really have to draw the four spinners or all the holes; I did so only for reference and clarity. You need only identify the locations of all of the hole and peg center points.
Transfer Your Pattern To The Playfield
Use an awl and mallet to punch a small dimple at every point that will be drilled. Unlike hockey pros, these won’t punch back. So – assuming you had them to begin with – you’ll walk away with all your chiclets (that’s teeth, for us laymen).
Some things to be mindful of are:
* On the four spinners, only punch the center of the larger radius. Not the smaller one.
* DO punch the very center, where the two centerlines intersect.
* You should be punching 25 points in total. Double check that you got them all before removing the pattern.
Drilling The Quarter Hockey Playfield For The 1/4” Pegs
The many playfield obstacles include 16 oak pegs cut from a 1/4” dowel rod. While some hockey players may bill themselves as immovable objects, these playfield objects actually are.
Use a brad point bit to drill all the way through the board for only the 16 pins and the ramp in the center. In total, you’ll be drilling 17, 1/4” holes. The center point of the bit should fall in the awl holes punched earlier.
Avoid The Penalty Box – With Rockler As Your Guide
A workpiece this large can be unwieldy on a drill press table (and many drill presses don’t have sufficient reach). To make life easier, I drilled all of the 1/4” holes with a handheld drill, using the drill guide kit from Rockler.
The SAE drill guide kit accommodates 6 different sizes and costs only $19.99. You don’t absolutely have to use one, but I very strongly recommend it or something similar. Otherwise, some of your pins may permanently sport a drunken lean and you’ll be the one sent to the penalty box.
Cutting Pegs For The Quarter Hockey Game Board
Cut 16 pegs (each 1-9/16” long) from a 1/4” hardwood dowel rod. One 4-foot dowel was enough for the whole project. There’s no special hat trick required here, but for a no-measure, easy way to cut a bunch of dowels to the exact same length, try this simple band saw jig:
It’s not necessary, but this simple band saw jig will make every cut perfectly square and to the exact same length. Simply allow the left edge of the jig to ride against the fence for perfect, repeatable cuts every time.
Paint The Pegs – Quarter Hockey Game Board
We want the pegs to stand 13/16” tall, and the melamine is 3/4” thick. So mark a line about 11/16” (just shy of the 3/4” thickness to be sure no bare wood shows once the pegs are installed) from one end and paint everything above the line. I use acrylics; they’re water based, dry quickly and work beautifully with a clear lacquer top coat.
Once the paint has dried, mask the bare wooden end with painter’s tape or masking tape and spray a few coats of clear lacquer or enamel. Set them aside to dry.
Next, drill 1 inch holes for the two goals and serving posts. Like the peg holes, these too pierce completely through the quarter hockey game board. I find this to be most easily done with a drill press and even a small benchtop model should have sufficient throat depth to reach.
Chuck a 1” Forstner bit. For best results, drill from the top until the center point just pokes through the bottom. Then flip the workpiece and complete the hole from the other side. Otherwise, you risk blowing out the bottom.
Serving Posts – Puck Launching Platforms
The two serving posts were cut from a 1” diameter (poplar) dowel rod to a length of 1-1/2”. I used a jig just like the one I cut the 1/4” pegs with, then gently sanded to soften the hard edges on both ends.
You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round – Like A Flipper, Baby, Right Round, Round, Round.
Perhaps not too unlike 80’s pop throwback night at the skating rink, the four pinball flipper-inspired blue spinners are dynamic playfield elements that seek to impede your shot at the goal. They gracefully pirouette when struck by the quarter – or directly flicked by a player – and may assume offensive or defensive roles throughout the game. Intentionally or by happenstance.
Lay out the spinners on a piece of card stock, then cut it out to use as a template. The process is simple:
1) Draw a straight line a few inches long.
2) Mark two center points, 1-3/4” apart.
3) Using those center points, draw a 1” circle (1/2” radius) and a 1/2” circle (1/4” radius).
4) Use a straightedge to join the circles with tangential lines.
The spinners are cut from the same 3/4” stock as the borders. Trace the template onto the wood and cut them out with a band saw or scroll saw. Be sure to transfer the location of the larger circle’s center point.
Quarter Hockey Game Board Spinners – Finishing Touches
For a nice look, I routed a small chamfer on only the top edge of each spinner. It’s a small cosmetic touch that makes a big difference. Leave the bottom edge square (you can give it a light hand sanding to remove the sharpness, but don’t chamfer or round it over).
Make sure to rout against the direction of bit rotation. As a refresher, you can find some helpful safety tips in the “router feed direction” segment of Home Fixated’s bottle cap tambourine project article.
To avoid your hand being so close to the router bit you can make a holder of some sort, such as this one here:
Spinner Holes And Pivot Pins – Quarter Hockey Game Board
The pivot pins that attach the spinners are galvanized 12d nails cut to 1-1/2”. The cut end was chamfered with a belt sander to prevent grabbing, binding and tearing when inserted into the board.
You may have to file or grind away ridges from under the nail head to allow the spinners to move freely.
On the spinners, drill a hole that’s a bit larger than the diameter of the nails you use. You want the spinners loose enough that they can spin freely. In my case, 11/64” was perfect.
The matching holes on the board itself, however, should be a hair smaller than the nails, for a nice snug fit. In my case, that was 9/64. Drill these holes all the way through the board. It is strongly recommended that you use a drill guide or drill press (make sure the table is square to the bit) for these holes! If your holes are at an angle the spinners aren’t going to work very well.
The 2nd Period – Assembling The Quarter Hockey Game Board
There are parts left to make. But it was at this point that I started assembling the quarter hockey game board. This is a new design and I wanted to get a feel for how it’s all going to come together so I could determine whether or not to add the corner blocks I had in mind (Spoiler: I did, and they’re the great feature I hoped they’d be. But I needed to make sure before committing).
Also, I still needed to figure out the optimal dimensions for the center ramp.
The serving posts should have a tight enough friction fit. But you can glue them in place if needed. Just be sure to clean up any glue that gets on the playfield around the base of the post.
The 1/4” pegs, however, should not be glued in place if you can help it. If you used a drill guide, they should be tight enough as is. The reasoning is that, if a peg ever gets broken off, you’ll be able to punch it through (from top to bottom, to avoid chipping melamine on the playfield surface) and replace it.
It’s extremely unlikely that a peg would get broken during gameplay. But if something does happen – such as rough-housing or improper storage – it’s nice to have the ability to repair it without drilling a new hole, which is likely to migrate off center. If you absolutely must glue the pegs in place, apply a couple drops of glue near the bottom of the hole.
Using Rockler Gluing Accessories – Attaching The Quarter Hockey Game Board Borders
Start by installing the dowels into the border rails. Then attach the rails to the board. Coat the walls of the hole with glue and insert a fluted dowel.
Don’t overdo it with the glue; a big puddle at the bottom of the hole might prevent the dowel from fully seating.
Seating The Quarter Hockey Border Rails
After checking that none of the dowels protrude too far for the border rails to seat on the game board, apply glue to the holes along one edge of the board. Then align the corresponding rail and tap it firmly into place. It’s important for the rails to seat all the way against on the playfield, with no gaps.
Attaching The Spinners To The Quarter Hockey Game Board
Now we can attach the four spinners. Put a #6 washer on the nail then feed the nail through the hole in the spinner. The beveled edge should be up. Use a hammer to drive the nails into their holes in the board. Don’t seat the nails all the way; leave a small gap so the spinner can spin freely. If you do go too far, use a thin punch to tap the nail back out a bit from underneath; that’s why it was important to drill those holes all the way through the board.
3rd Period Body Check – Ramp And Corner Blocks
Keep your stick on the ice; you’re almost to the championships! But first, we’ve got a couple more parts to make: the ramp and four corner blocks. Luckily, neither is very difficult.
The corner blocks as drawn on the pattern are not to scale, but the numeric dimension of 2” is. I originally planned to make them from thicker, solid pieces of wood. However, it ended up being easier and more economical to use the same 3/4” stock as the border rails and spinners. You can glue up the wood first, then cut. Or – as I did – cut the pieces then glue them up afterwards.
The corner blocks are cut by first making a 45° bevel. Then cut in the opposite direction, beginning at the edge of the first bevel. If you glue the wood up first, you’ll have your completed corner block with just these two cuts. But if you make the cuts first (like I did), use that small triangle to determine the width of the “base” piece.
Ramping Up The Quarter Hockey Game Board
The ramp starts out as a hardwood blank measuring 1” wide by 1/2” tall (I cut mine from the same maple stock as the border rails). The ramp is only 2-1/4” long, but start with a good 10 – 12 inches so you have something to hold onto.
From the bottom side, drill a 1/4” hole a little over halfway through. Be careful not to go too deep.
Cut The Ramp
The easiest way to cut the ramp slopes is with a band saw.
Attaching The Corner Blocks
You have the benefit of my hindsight, knowing that I did indeed go with corner blocks. My initial uncertainty, however, required that I fully paint the border rails in case I determined corner blocks to be unnecessary. So now I must scrape off the offending paint to give me a clean gluing surface. In your case, you can just mask this part off when painting the rails.
After painting and clear coating the exposed faces of the corner blocks, glue and clamp them in place. Apply glue to the faces that mate to the border rails. And – even though it won’t provide much additional strength – give the bottom of the blocks a thin coat as well.
Preparing For The Ramp
The last crucial step of the project is to inset the ramp into the playfield so that the quarter can never catch on the leading edges. Place the ramp and align it square to the board. Then use a fresh razor blade to carefully score the melamine all the way around. Take your time; a careless move at this point could mean sudden death.
While cutting the inset, work slowly, carefully and with light taps of a light mallet. Take care not to chip the melamine. The goal is to remove only the plastic layer and allow the ramp to sit slightly below the surface.
If you get a good fit, you shouldn’t have to glue the ramp in place, but you can if you want.
Overtime – Optional Score Keeper
After 25+ years of trying to keep scores straight in my head (or having to keep a score pad nearby), I decided this quarter hockey game board needed an upgrade. With this iteration, I included a score keeper.
To watch this build in action, check out this video:
How To Play The Quarter Hockey Game Board
If you made it this far, congratulations; you now have a game that should provide years of enjoyment and challenge! Let’s cover the rules before we lace up those skates and shave some ice.
One player is positioned on each end of the game board. You score by getting the puck (a U.S. Quarter) into your goal (the hole at the far end of the board). If you accidentally score in the opponent’s goal (the hole nearest yourself), they get a point. The first to reach 10 wins. But you must win by 2 points, so the game continues until that condition is met.
A quick shootout determines which player starts the game. Each player places a quarter on one of the two yellow serving posts and tries to launch it as close to their own goal as they can. Whoever is closest starts the game. Remove the losing quarter from the board.
Depending on house rules, the starter can either relaunch (serve) to start the game or take their second shot from where their quarter landed.
Each “turn” consists of two shots. A “shot” is defined as:
a) launching from atop a serving post at the start of a play;
b) flicking the quarter with an index finger;
c) placing a thumb or finger on top of the quarter and flinging it that way (perhaps when the quarter lands too close to an obstacle to flick it from behind) or;
d) flicking a spinner.
A “play” begins with the player who’s turn it is to serve launching the quarter from atop either of the yellow serving posts. It’s possible to score on the serve, so it pays to practice your launching technique. If at any time the quarter is shot off of the board, the player’s turn ends and their opponent serves to start a new play.
If the server does not score with their launch shot, they take their second shot from wherever the quarter landed. Players then take turns (two shots per turn) shooting the quarter from whenever it lies until someone scores a goal, at which time they receive a point and it’s the other player’s turn to serve.
You can see the game being played here:
Some Quick Play Tips – Quarter Hockey Game Board
You may shoot in any direction. When shooting from the along the side rails, the corner blocks can get you near the goal (or even allow you to score, if you get lucky). The ramp and serve launches can each be used to score in a single shot, but it takes a little practice. Sometimes it’s best to dedicate your first shot to setting up for a goal shot, rather than trying to score with every hit.
If you don’t have a good shot, perhaps consider a defensive move by setting your opponent up for a more difficult shot. Or flick a spinner to impede their path. Have fun exploring and learning the many possible shots on this quarter hockey game board. There are tons of them that aren’t so obvious at first.
The Evolution Of My Quarter Hockey Game Boards
I built my first quarter hockey game board – a very simple project from an old (even at the time) book – in high school shop class. Unfortunately, very few high schools have shop anymore.
I loved the idea but felt it was way too simple. I immediately designed and built a more complex version that was a lot more fun to play and with much greater replay value. Since then, I’ve created two additional iterations (including the one featured in this article) that were even bigger and better.
A couple years after high school, I introduced my new grown-up friends to quarter hockey and it took on a life of its own. The larger board was such a hit that I was compelled to outdo myself. So I designed and built a third generation. The new version was made on a Formica-covered MDF base. Because of the 3-point holes, this one is played to 20 points (win by 2 rule applies).
It was bigger and better in every way, with superior quarter glide and ricochet action and all new features, and immediately became hugely popular with my circle of friends. It was a legitimate source of fun; sometimes even a drinking game. Parties were scheduled around it; it was a center of attention – off and on – for years.
Most of the playfield components (including the brass and phenolic tubes) were harvested from old pinball machines. The blue cubic pyramids in the middle are constructed from service tech buttons that were used on the inside of old Protel pay telephones.
The two pinball flippers act as moving spinner obstacles, like those on the project featured in this article. The four ramps – which come into play in surprising ways – are constructed from clear acrylic painted black on the underside. There are even 18 LEDs in this board, complete with handmade driver circuits.
The big board has 6 scoring holes and one trap hole. All holes feature coin return chutes, save for the trap, which “eats your quarter”, sending it to the beer fund. The four 3-point holes have old telephone bells that the coin rings as it drops through. Ah… the sights! The sounds! The free beers! And this board is still played to this very day.
When HomeFixated.com’s sponsor, Rockler Woodworking & Hardware, inspired me to create a new quarter hockey game board I agonized for months. How can I improve upon what I’ve already made? Should I go bigger? Should I drastically alter the layout? Believe it or not, it wasn’t an easy decision.
Every change I made to the “big board” was actually a change for the worse. As it turns out, it’s a pretty solid game as is. So I toyed around with combining elements from the second and third boards. I prefer the improved goalie layout – and love the dynamic spinner aspect – of the big board.
But the big board requires a lot of real estate, which might not be feasible in many homes. The size of the second board is great, but it doesn’t allow for the extra holes in the middle. So I went with the dimensions of the third board and the goalie layout of the big board. I used materials everyone has access to, changed the peg setup, went with four spinners, added corner blocks, a single central ramp and voilà: another board I really enjoy playing on!
A teenager and I have been playing this new board for several weeks now and love it.
With our 27 year age difference, if we can bond, trash talk and enjoy ourselves over quarter hockey there’s no reason your friends and family can’t do the same. Keep your stick on the ice and we’ll see you at the playoffs!
Here is the video recap of the whole project:
Buy the 3/8” doweling jig kit for around $20:
Buy the complete doweling jig kit, which includes 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” for around $72:
Buy the drill guide kit for around $20:
Buy the silicone glue mat for around $30:
Buy the silicone mini glue brush 2-pack for around $8:
Buy the 3-Piece Silicone Glue Application Kit for around $15:
Or buy the glue application master set for around $40:
Buy the table saw cross sled for around $150: