How-to: make and play a one dimensional 4-in-a-row / connect 4

Before you even start thinking about building this, you might be wondering just how on earth do you play a 1D-4-in-a-row / connect 4 ?!
The rules are quite simple: two players, they both choose a color for themselves. The aim of the game is like any (2D or 3D) 4-in-a-row: you have to align 4 counters of your color to win. To play: taking turns, each player takes 3 consecutive counters from anywhere on the game and moves them (without changing the order to them) to either end of the line of counters. By doing so, the counters get shuffled and you start to figure out ways to get 4 of your counters aligned.

See pics below of one move:

One move, picking up 3 consecutive counters anywhere from the game

One move, picking up 3 consecutive counters anywhere from the game

One move, placing the 3 counters to one end of the game

One move, placing the 3 counters to one end of the game

I built this game as material for our math awareness homeschooling (*cough*) “program”. I think that games like these, where children have to mentally juggle situations will only help them develop their mathematical/abstract skills.

So how to build it now:
I stumbled upon a great tutorial on how to build this 1D connect 4. I wasn’t looking for how to make it, I just stumbled on it and when I saw it, I wanted to try.
The link to the original tutorial: One-dimensional-Connect-4.

First of all, I started by making the counters, because you want to build your base to accommodate all your counters comfortably.
To make the counters, using a small hand saw, I sawed a piece of thick curtain rod I purchased (3cm in diameter).
I did my best to keep them consistent in thickness and as straight as I could.
To help cut the counters evenly, I built a quick gauge. It was basically 3 pieces of sturdy cardboard with a hole in their center just wide enough to lodge the rode and a 4th piece of cardboard with no hole in it to stop the rod. I glued them all together. When dry, I placed the gauge at the end of the rod, traced all around the rod with pencil to mark where I must cut and take the gauge away to start sawing.
I sanded down the counters afterwards to correct any imperfection.

Sawing the curtain rod

Sawing the curtain rod

For the base of the game, the tutorial calls for plywood, but I used solid wood I recycled from an old drawer abandoned on the curb of our street. Recycling is always best! 😉
The original tutorial says to build a stand to put the game on, but since my wood was thicker, the width of the game itself is enough to have it stand up, so I integrated a stand to it.
To build it, I traced a shape on paper and once I liked it, I reproduced it on two pieces of wood and cut them out with a jigsaw. I placed the two pieces together in the vice and grated/filed the pieces so they would be identical.
Then, I traced a third piece but I cut down the top so it could be the inner lower piece.

Some notes: The inner piece should be low enough so that the counters sit halfway below the higher borders. Unfortunately, I made mine a little too shallow and the counters tend to fall out. I also think that I should have used an even gentler slope. The slope helps the counters roll back to the center when you take 3, but you don’t need much of a slope and physics has it so that mine are pushing each other a little too much and they tend to fall out. This is only due to my nice-looking-but-poorly-conceived-design, I’m sure it can be made better.

All pieces cut

All pieces cut

I stained half of the counters in a dark color, then applied varnish to all the counters.

When all the pieces were cut, I glued them together with wood glue and placed the pieces in clamps to hold them together during drying time.
When the glue was dry, I filed and sanded the base so that it would be completely even and smooth. Then I varnished the base.

I don’t have any pictures of the assembling process, but here is a side view of the connect 4 so that you can see for yourself the final result. The light shade in the cracks is where I put wood paste to fill the small cracks. Unfortunately, it didn’t take up the colored varnish like the rest of the wood 😦 oh well.

Side view of the connect 4

Side view of the connect 4

Top view of the connect 4

Top view of the connect 4

Have fun!

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