Anyone ever made DIY Go stones?

I’m sure many have made / considered making a DIY Goban. Seems like a relatively straight-forward project - cut some wood, sand & varnish, draw a grid, job done. Indeed, I have some nice pieces of wood (my old solid-wood kitchen worktop) cut and ready, power sander available. Now I just need to find some time to finish the job…

But what about DIY stones? Of course, yes, it might just be easier to buy some stones but what if there are reasons against that such as cost, availability, or simply an interest in making them yourself (all of which apply in my case). I have given this some thought and there is no obvious or easy way as far as I can see so I thought I’d post here to see if anyone else has any experience in this area. Have you thought about it? Have you tried it? How did it go?

Some of my thoughts on the topic:

  • Would be relatively easy to make plastic stones, e.g. 3D printing, but that sort of defeats the point as plastic stones are cheap to buy. Would by nice to make stones out of stone.
  • How to make Go stone shape out of rock? Go stones should be hard. Easily sculpted stone (e.g. soapstone) is soft. So either sculpted stones are too soft or the rock is too hard to sculpt. Either way, would be very time-consuming to sculpt 361 stones individually by hand.
  • A rock-tumbler might get stones to roughly the right size but they would be very irregular. How to then get them to a regular size, smooth shape, etc?
  • Could the rock be ground down into powder and re-formed into Go stone shape? Would be easier to get uniform shape and size and do it quickly but seems like it would need special (expensive) equipment (if it even works).
  • How do they make stone Go stones in China / Japan? Could those methods be used in a domestic / hobbyist setting?
  • What about making them out of clay? The clay could be mold-able when wet and then baked in the oven to go hard. Would the finished product’s properties be suitable (hardness, brittleness, etc.)? How would one add color beyond just painting when dry (which seems undesirable as it would chip off)? Would this idea of molding clay and drying it in the oven even work?
  • What about other cheap alternative Go stones such as aquarium pebbles? Has anyone ever had any success with makeshift Go stones such as these?

Thanks :smiley_cat:

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If this were the case we wouldn’t be able to have any useful hard tools. To sculpt harder material, just use harder tools. :slight_smile:

I think the biconvex stones are usually sculpted into an approximate shape and then sanded down:

The Chinese yunzi stones are made from glass, so these are molten:

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@Vsotvep just posted the same two videos that I was about to post…

Reforming powdered rock into a solid mass would require either sintering (at very high temperatures) or processing a very fine powder like clay.

There are a variety of natural and synthetic clays (including various clay-like substances, search “modelling compounds”) available in a broad range of colors. Depending the type of “clay” and firing options available, coloration using a glaze could also be possible.

I think clay or modelling compound would probably be the easiest DIY method for making Go stones of a custom size, color, shape, etc. Some materials can achieve sufficient hardness and durability with just air-drying, while others can be cured with only the lower temperatures that can be attained with a household oven. You could also search for local ceramic studios if want to use materials that would require a high-heat firing.

Glass aquarium decoration stones like these below are widely available and fairly inexpensive.

image

I’ve seen inexpensive Go sets that come with stones like these.

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Sounds sort of like like Yunzi. I love yunzi stones!

Trying to think of a low cost alternative, yes I think clay is a good option if you have access to a hot enough oven. Another thought that I’ve wanted to look into is fine concrete. You’d need a mold of course, but I seems like it’d be easy to make stones in bulk. All these options don’t really seem worth it with the price of stones… but hey if you’re set on DIY!

Anyway please post if you end up making them! I haven’t seen many homemade stones!

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I made a couple with wood.
I think I’ve posted a pic here in the forum but can’t find it now.
I wanted to use a drill as a lathe, so I made a small hole in a small wooden block, put a small hexagonal stick into it, placed the stick in a drill and sanded the rotating wood to shape.

It wasn’t too bad. The hole looked weird but I could stand it.
The issue was time and patience. It took me hours to cut 400 small square blocks and then it would take about 20 minutes to shape each single stone.
I abandoned the project

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From my research of the precursor of Go, I made note that historically from written records the pieces were made of wood, ivory, bones, clay pottery and polished stones. And they were for upper-class rich nobles, so the time-consuming process was not a problem. The use of wood or other lighter materials as pieces would also explain why ancient Go boards were much larger than modern gobans (up to 80 even 90 centimeters) since the pieces would also need to be larger to have enough weight.

From unearthed actual pieces, besides lighter perishable materials, clay and polished stones(jade) were the most common, and then the glass stones start to appear in Tang Dynasty.

stone (鵝卵石)

glass (琉璃)
image

clay (陶)

clay applied color (上色陶)

And from Song Dynasty forward, with the mature of ceramics, they seem to be popular.

colored ceramic with glaze (上釉瓷)

They would even put patterns on the ceramic stones

From Ming Dynasty forward, the proto-yunzi start to appear in mass quantity.

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I am actually in the middle of making my own go board. I plan to buy the stones though.

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This is what I was worried about. Seems like the answer might have to be that I stop being tight and just cough up the moolah to buy some!

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If money is the issue, no doubt just too many cheap options out there.

Still I’d love to see someone make an “artisanal” set!

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I really like these. They would be my ideal Go stones - literally just some shaped and polished stones. Will just have to become an

and get my workers to make then for me, mwhahaha!!!

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Ngl that sounds like a really fun mini hobby project.

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It is one of the issues. I can’t justify the expense of slate and shell. Yunzi would be OK but all the ones at a sensible price are sold out. Then glass and plastic are ok price but compromise on quality. So that just got me thinking whether there is another way, e.g. DIY, to get quality for cheap. Seems like the best compromise overall is to buy Yunzi if you can find a good deal (which I cannot at the moment) or glass otherwise.

Me too! But I think the reality is that it would just be too difficult and take too long so probably not going to happen.

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Great post!

For comparison, a modern wooden-stone set from the year 2000.

(#37 Hermes Go Set | Tchan001's Blog)

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I like the grain on the “white” “stones”. Would be nice to know how they were made.

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This thread reminded me of a bucket of rocks in my garage, some of which could actually make reasonable go stones:

These are natural pebbles collected from a New Jersey beach. I usually take bigger ones when I’m walking the beach, but next time I’m definitely looking for this size. I think I can find a lot more than one in 20 minutes!

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Slate & shell and yunzi are both very expensive. I’m not sure about plastic stones, but I have glass stones that I bought for about 40 or 50 dollars, and they’re certainly not bad quality. Most Go clubs I’ve visited also use glass stones.

I can’t imagine your time being worth so little that it’s less expensive to make your own stones than to buy cheap ones. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I made a board and “stones” in sloyd in school at age 11 after reading about the game in the Swedish translation of this book: Games of the World: How to Make Them, How to Play Them, How They Came to Be by Frederic V. Grunfeld | LibraryThing

The stones were painted squares of plywood. It was however hard to get started without knowing any players, with only the basic rules from the book to go from.

I only started playing properly online about ten years later when realizing that online Go was a thing.

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OMG! :flushed: Just looked up the website kurokigoishi.co.jp shown at the end of the clamshell video… They have a set of slate and shell stones (the most premium quality of those obviously) for 5,040,000 JPY. That’s about £33k GBP = $46k USD = 39k EUR. WTF!? Who’s paying that!? :dizzy_face:

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So now you are inspired to go clam digging, slate mining and to get drilling and polishing yourself?

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Years ago in a remote place i made a set of stones with clay.
It’s easy to shape (and quick), just a ball of natural clay you splash between the palms
I let them dry in the sun and painted then
It was quite breakable so we had to play with care but it was a good looking and enjoyable way to play.

If you have the oven and I guess most of us don’t have I won’t be that impossible to make your own “yunzi kind” stones. For memo these are made one by one…

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