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.
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.
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.
The final cut on this board is a 3/8″ wide, 3/6″ deep groove, 1/4″ down from the lid rabbet.
Assembling the box
I used my miter sled to cut each of the box sides to the same length, then glued the ends together.
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.
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.
Once this looks good, don’t make any more adjustments to the router. Make your second cut along the opposite side.
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.
Now the lid should fit snugly onto the box.
I cut a square piece of 1/4″ plywood and glued it into the rabbet on the bottom half of the box.
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.
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.
I glued the plywood panel into the rabbet along the lid, then glued the inlay strips into the super-shallow rabbet on the plywood.
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.
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.
I routed a decorative chamfer along the top edge of the game board, then glued it into the box.
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.
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.
Finally, I finished everything (except the acrylic rods!) with spray lacquer.