I’ve been looking for an excuse to load up on colored and patterned duct tape, and what better time than Father’s Day? If you have handy fix-it-type fathers in your life and/or if you know a dad who likes games (two for two here), check out this cool duct tape checkerboard set–a fun craft for kids to make either for Dad or with Dad (although in the latter case be sure to call it a “project” not a “craft”). The finished set is also perfect for summer travel of all types: pool, tent, plane, or hotel.
two coordinating rolls of duct tape
one gallon-size sealable plastic bag
24 pennies (or something of similar size to use as playing pieces)
What you’ll need:
Hey! Patterned duct tape! It’s kind of an abomination, but it’s also kind of awesome. For the best result, you’ll want at least one of your rolls to be a solid color, but feel free to get wacky with the other roll. I’ll admit my choices aren’t the most…masculine, but if MANLY is what you’re going for this Father’s Day, look for plaid, camo, checks, glow-in-the-dark, flames, moustaches, bacon, and a whole lotta college and NFL logos. For this project, I used rolls 1.88 inches wide, but any size over 1.25 inches will do. You could even buy full 8.5 x 11 sheets, but that’s cheating and I will judge you.
Ready to rock it?
1. Cover one side of a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag with either color of tape. The best way to do it is to lay the strips from top to bottom, with about a quarter-inch overlap on each end, getting each strip as close to the previous one as possible so there are no gaps. There are advantages and disadvantages to using either the patterned or solid roll for your base, but either will work depending on the look you’re going for.
2. When you have the whole front of the bag covered, fold over the excess tape on the top and trim any excess from the side(s) and bottom, being careful not to cut the bag.
Now we’re going to make the contrasting squares, which you’ll be cutting out and sticking on one by one.
3. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper about as big as your plastic bag. (Note: Use real parchment paper, usually shelved in the baking aisle at the grocery store. I tried to get away with using freezer paper and it didn’t work.) Lay four strips of your contrasting tape side by side, perfectly straight, as close together as possible, and about 10 inches long. (You don’t have to make the patterns line up, just make sure the strips are flush with each other.)
4. Turn your parchment over and draw a grid over the tape, marking off 32 squares (plus some extras) each measuring 1.25 x 1.25 inches. I haven’t had a math class since junior year of high school, so this took some concentration on my part (and also an eraser), but the main thing to keep in mind is that if you’re using a geometric patterned tape, make sure you measuring flush with the straight edges of the tape so the pattern isn’t tilted.
This is where you’ll find the advantage of using the patterned tape as your base and the solid tape for the squares (i.e., the opposite of what’s pictured in the tutorial). Having done it both ways, it’s definitely easier to lay down your patterned tape on the bag, matching up the strips so the pattern is continuous. Then when you’re cutting and sticking your solid squares, you don’t have to be as careful about making sure the pattern is straight and facing the same direction. I actually like the look of the solid tape as the base (as in the tutorial), but it does demand a little extra brainpower.
The craft so nice I made it twice!
5. Your grid isn’t going to be a perfect checkerboard (because you’re cutting 1.25-inch squares out of tape that is 1.88 inches wide), so if it looks something like what’s pictured below, you’re doing it right. I drew Xs on the parts you’ll be throwing away. I hope this makes sense. Measure twice, cut once!
6. Once all your squares are cut out, it’s time to stick them on. Use a ruler to get the top row nice and straight and even, but after that you can lay the rest of the board freehand.
I stuck down my first square 1.5 inches from the top and 3/8 inch from the edge. Every square after that was 1.25 inches away from the previous one until I had a completed checkerboard eight squares across and eight squares down. Easy.
7. For your checkers pieces, go as creative or lo-fi as you want. Plain old coins work well (and can be easily replaced if one gets lost), and so do pasta wheels, painted pebbles, spray-painted metal washers, and wooden discs colored with markers. I sandwiched some pennies between two pieces of duct tape, cut around the edges, and loved the look, but my son thought the plain money was cooler. (He’s kind of obsessed with Abraham Lincoln.)
Now you’re ready to pack up your custom checkers set and hit the road. The plastic bag holds not just your playing pieces but some of your other favorite travel games. (I’m obsessed with Spot It. Have you played?) We’ll be taking our checkers set camping, on the plane ride to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and to the pool (bonus points for waterproofing!). Where will you take yours?