As you may have read in the last article we've been playing mahjong recently. As we have nice tiles but no counting sticks and the only nice counting sticks we've found amazon.com were just too much shipping (6$ product, 49$ shipping, yay!) we thought we just make them ourselves as well.
It took us a while to get the idea what material to use as a base to start off from. We first thought to get round wooden sticks from the DIY market and grind them to half width, but that would've taken too long. Later on i found a flat-ish chopstick at my home, nice bamboo wood, cheap. So we went to a asia store and got a truckload of those:
(note the club mate to the right, its german hacker fuel :P)
So the basic idea is, take on or two of those chopsticks at a time, grind them down on a belt sander first on the more yellow-ish ugly side (the side that was the outside of the bamboo stick) first, then the inside. You also need to round the quite sharp corners a bit.
Note the round corners and smooth texture in the last picture.
From there on you can start postprocessing the sticks. You'll need a dremel or alike and these tools for it:
The result of the grinding action could look like this, presented by cute Miku-Chan:
So, first its best to try around on a not so well sanded stick if you're starting with the holes for the color.
So, take your measure and mark 8cm on the sanded chopsticks. They should be long enough for 2 Mahjong Counting Sticks each.
Now ... the pattern for the holes - how do i do that? you may ask. Well, i decided to leave that up to you, a rough guide can be found in my TeXed version of the rules. But really, think of a nice pattern roughly following the guidelines yourself :P.
Anyways, also mark those points (here: 1000 points, riichi stick) on your stick... and drill. First with the small drill, then make the ones that need to be larger ... larger with the round sander tool for the dremel.
Then, paint them with acrylic color, be a bit patient as the color easily splills over the edge of the hole, which looks ... not so nice. You may also want to hand sand the sticks with a 300 or 400 paper in order to get rid of the residues from the drilling action.
After painting you may want to hand-sand 'em again, this time to remove leftover dried paint. The finished results look like this:
If you're playing mahjong and still miss some nice counting sticks, no need to buy crappy plastic ones or pay tons of shipping, just go to a asia store, fetch some chopsticks and make them yourself! With a few friends thats more fun anyways.
I hope you enjoyed this small tutorial-ish thingy :P.