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Kubb, a Swedish Lawn Game

posted by Matt Pierce on August 10, 2011

My kind of sports involve hanging out with friends, and most of the time having a drink. Bowling seems to be 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 6ft 4x4 post, and a saw.

You’ll need some tools:

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

You’ll need a few materials:

  • one 6ft long 4"x4" post - untreated fir, pine
  • Danish oil or other oil finish
  • sandpaper
  • rag to apply finish

The most inexpensive way to build a set is to start with a 6ft 4x4 post and some dowel clothes rods from your nearest lumberyard. Official Kubb makers suggest using a hardwood, since you’re going to be hucking 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 there 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.

You can cut your main pieces all from the 6ft 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 you have your post slimmed, cut into equal lengths for each Kubb piece. Typically each piece is 6” tall, but will be slightly less to accommodate the amount a blade takes out with each cut. Once all pieces were cut, I beveled all the edges wish a sander and used the table saw to make some decorative cuts into the King. You can really carve some interesting shapes, cuts and crowns into your King, even add some painted stripes to make it stand out.

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

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 could.

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