In the first part of this article (a few months ago now) I talked about my attempt to find a 'Championship' standard size for Kubb pieces. In this second part I'll relate the fun I had manufacturing a working Kubb set without any real skill in woodworking. Or tools. Or wood, to start with.
I'd spotted that I could get 70mmx70mm square section pine at B&Q at a pretty good price, so I ran up a few test pieces, as much as a way to test the density of the material as anything. I'd already figured that pine was likely to be a little soft for Kubb, and would mark too easily. I cut the lengths up on my old mitre saw and rounded the edges with a 6mm radius round-over router bit. I had made a make-shift router table from a wide plank with a hole cut in it, all balanced on a Black and Decker Workmate. Worked fine.
That seemed to work pretty well, and I managed to create a set of Kubbs that looked the part, were pretty much Championship size and weight, and all without breaking the bank. My dad is pretty handy in the workshop, so I asked him to turn some batons on his lathe. The results were really good, but it's not a process that would make sense for bulk. I figured that I'd have to find a source of ready cut dowels.
We actually used that test set in a late Autumn friendly tournament and I was happy enough.
But...shaping the King without expensive tools was always going to be the main issue, so in that game we just had a big block in the middle of the pitch. Serviceable, I suppose, but not very stylish. We could do better.
The weight and size were pretty much spot on, but as predicted, they looked pretty beaten up after a day's play. Pine was probably not the answer then.
Come the winter we upped the stakes a bit and bought in enough timber to make ten full sets, with the intention of kicking off the 2016 Championship in style. We chose Poplar (aka Tulipwood) because it's slap bang in the middle of the density range that I mentioned last time, and it also happens to be the weapon of choice for the US Championship folks.
I got all my materials from Shaun at G&S Specialist Timber in Carlisle, initially because they can offer dowels in pretty much any species of wood, at any size you need. They were also able to provide the square section material I'd need for the rest of the set. They were brilliant: manufactured and delivered in just a couple of days, great quality stuff. I can't recommend them enough.
I had come to the conclusion that the 6mm round-over bit that I has used on the test set produced edges that were a little....curvy for my tastes. So I invested in a 3mm bit for my 'Router Plank' (trademark pending) which was big enough to take the very square edges off the kubbs and give a slighter softer look, but still left plenty of grip for the drillers.
The only other change I made was to procure an eighty-tooth blade for my trusty (rusty?) mitre saw to replace the thirty-tooth version that I had used before. This gives a much finer cut and is far less liable to 'tear-out'. I really wanted to protect all that lovely wood that we had splashed out on.
So, I cut the baton lengths down to 30cm and rounded over the ends with the 6mm bit, and then set about the hundred kubbs that I would need. Twelve edges per kubb means one thousand two hundred router runs to do, which I managed over two weekends.
So....I now have sixty batons and one hundred kubbs, all in beautiful Poplar. Very happy overall. Next step will be oiling them with simple old Danish oil, and working out a way to brand them with our logo. I'll come back to that.
Now...what about those pesky Kings? Next time, I guess.