How to make a DIY Mancala Board Game

DIY Mancala Board Game

Similar to my previous project were I used scrap wood to build it, this DIY Mancala Board Game was also built form leftover scrap wood. Mancala game history can be traced back as far as CE 500 and 700. There are hundreds of variants around the world, but we will build only one of many variations of this game. This Mancala game is played by two players, and one game can take about 15 minutes.

DIY Mancala Board Game

Mancala Game Rules

You can use rocks, beans, seeds, or anything else. The game is divided into two parts: Your side with six holes and a “mancala” to the right, and your opponent’s side and a mancala.

To set up, place four marbles in each hole, except mancalas, a total of 48 marble. The point of this game to get the most marbles in your “mancala” cup. The first player grabs all marbles in any of their holes and drops, one by one, in succeeding holes in a counter-clockwise direction. Including their mancala, but skipping their opponent’s mancala cup.

Ones your hand is empty, it’s your opponent’s turn. If the last marble in your hand happens to go into your mancala, you go again. Also, if the last marble in your hand happens to fall into an empty hole that is yours, you grab that marble and all the marbles in a hole across from your opponent’s hole. Add them to your mancala cup. This continues until one player has all their holes empty. The player that still has marbles left in their holes adds them to their opponent’s mancala cup. The person with the most marbles in their cup wins. Have fun.

Diagram of DIY Mancala Board Game

You also might be interested in DIY Triangle Peg Game and DIY Pucket Game for Kids.

Time to Complete

2 hours

Total Cost


Skill Level


Mancala Board Game PDF


This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.

The plans are embedded on the webpage for free, but if you would like to support the website, you can pay a small fee to purchase the printable PDFs.

Thank you for your support!

Mancala Board Game

If you are feeling generous today, you could give a small tip to help me create more projects. Thank you!

Material List

Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.


DIY Mancala Board Game dimensions

Step 1 – Cut Two 1×6 Boards

Take 1×6 and cut two boards to 18 1/2″ in length. (In the photo I’m using a different size board because I’m using leftover scrap wood from different projects, but eventually, I cut it to 5 ½” x 18 ½”)

cut boards for the DIY Mancala Board Game

Step 2 – Measure and Mark Location of Holes

Starting from the left top corner of the board, measure and mark 1 3/8″ from the side and 1 3/8″ from the top. This will be the center of the first hole. Then from that first mark moving right, measure 2 1/4″ to the second hole, and so on. You will have 8 marks 2 1/4″ apart in one line. Now from the bottom left, follow the same measurement as you did on the top left.

measurement for DIY Mancala Board Game
marking to drill holes for DIY Mancala Board Game

Step 3 – Drill the Holes Using Hole Saw Bit

Now take a nail and place it over the mark and lightly hit it with a hammer making a dent in the wood. This will prevent the drill bit from shifting when you start drilling the hole. Using a 1 3/4″ hole saw bit drill 8 holes on the top and 8 holes on the bottom.

drill hole for DIY Mancala Board Game
drilling holes for the DIY Mancala Board Game

Step 4 – Cut Larger Two Opening With Jig Saw

Take a construction square and draw a line connecting the two holes on both the left and the right side. Using a Jig Saw cut on the line creating a larger oval opening.

cut mancala holes in the top wood piece
drawing line for mancala boards
using jig saw to cut mancala boards
lower board of the DIY Mancala Board Game

Step 5 – Sand and Glue Boards Together

Use sandpaper or/and random orbiting sander to eliminate any rough edges after drilling and cutting. Flip the board with holes upside down and apply wood glue. Then glue this piece onto the other 5 1/2″ by 18 1/2″ piece. Clamp the boards together and let the glue dry before staining or painting.

upper and lower boards for DIY Mancala Board Game
clamping mancala boards together
DIY Mancala Board Game

Step 5 – Stain Mancala Board

Once the glue dries, first apply pre-stain as your first layer, then apply the stain as your second layer. After the stain dries, apply several coats of polyurethane. You’re done with a DIY Mancala Board Game!

applying pre stain on DIY Mancala Board Game
staining DIY Mancala Board Game
DIY Mancala Board Game

6 thoughts on “How to make a DIY Mancala Board Game”

  1. A very good project which was easy to make. Am sure visitors and Grandkids will have a great time with it.
    Thanks for allowing me to download the templates which makes it even easier.


Leave a Comment