Kubb, a Swedish lawn game

kubb_title
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

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 4×4 post, and a saw.

The most inexpensive way to build a set is to start with a 6ft 4×4 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.

 

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14 Responses to “Kubb, a Swedish lawn game”

  1. sean says:

    saw this being played at the beach recently, looked like a really fun game so we had to ask what it was, funny to see it here a week later. really excited to make a set

  2. Whitney says:

    For some reason the pictures in your blog aren’t showing up in Feedly. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    • MMP says:

      It’s not on your end… it’s on my end. The way I have gallery images in the posts, they won’t show up in feeds for some reason. I haven’t had the time to figure it out yet… sorry!

  3. jeremy says:

    awesome

  4. Heather Lea says:

    You are one talented man of woodworking.

  5. Teresa says:

    A friend of mine did a student exchange to Sweden when she was in high school, and she taught us this game. You certainly get a few looks on the beach!

  6. Vince says:

    Kubb is rad. It’s more radder with beer. They work well together.

  7. Lily says:

    Gosh, these are so lovely! You really are very good!
    I’d love to see a tour of your workshop some time to see your equipment and work space!

  8. Dylan says:

    This looks awesome! I’d love to find some re-claimed walnut. Where abouts do you buy your wood from? I live in Ontario Canada and haven’t been able to find anything local so I’m turning to online. I’ve got a pretty wicked slat bed project in the making as well and currently looking for some re-claimed wood. Any ideas?

    Cheers,

    Dylan

    • MMP says:

      Hey Dylan, I’m lucky to have a great place near my – gobywalnut.com. They do have an online store, I don’t know what the shipping to CA is, but I bet it’s high. Try searching for hardwood locally and I bet something might turn up. Or, go ask the oldest guy at your local woodworking store? Good luck!

  9. Paulina says:

    Kubb is tons of fun! Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. eric says:

    All of you are always to come to Eau Claire, WI for the U.S. National Kubb Championship. You can read more about it and Kubbnation Magazine at http://www.wisconsinkubb.com.

    Kubb unites people and creates peace on Earth.
    Eric Anderson

  11. Greg says:

    Been playing this game for a few years here in Vermont. We’ve been calling it V-King and claiming it was descended from the Vikings. Lore is that the pieces were originally parts of the human skeletal system back when those badass Vikings played it. Vikings are more badass than Swedes, that’s a fact.

    Good to see some other people out there are making their own sets! It’s a great game and an even better compliment to beer on a nice sunny summer afternoon.

  12. Jason says:

    Just found out about the game myself at a friends party. he paid 50 bucks for a pine set.

    I being a carpenter with lots of tools, made my own. took some oak logs, and got my set made.

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