One of the difficult-to-explain concepts in cribbage board design is the layout of holes.  Below is our attempt to explain why we do things the way we do.


Most boards have 120 holes per track plus a finish hole and usually a couple of starting holes.

Convention has the holes set out in groups of five to make them easier to count and peg.

There is a path laid out from start to finish to peg along.

When the board is rectangular or round, this is pretty straightforward.  We can choose proportions that allow us to place holes in curves that look really nice.  Geometric and perfectly spaced.

Modern 3d design software, such as we use, makes it easy to place equally-spaced holes along a track.

Tournament boards usually have long, straight lines of holes to prevent costly mistakes in tournament play.

What we are interested in discussing here though, are casual play boards where good, neat design and innovative shapes trump tournament-style regimented layouts.

The difficulty in laying out holes comes when the shape is a one-off, custom board, which is not geometrically shaped.

Let's pick a simple shape to illustrate:

Then let's add a line to follow:

Now let's add just 40 holes to keep this simple:

Easy to peg along, huh?  Plenty of space between holes and it's clear where you should go.

Now for a second track:

Two tracks, equally spaced throughout and looking neat. Easy to play and peg.

Sometimes a problem arises when a customer is still thinking of the conventional rectangular layouts as shown above.

It may take you a moment to notice that the groups of five just don't line up with each other.

With a compound curvy board and equal spacing, they won't line up.  The start and finish groups are always good, but around the curves things start to vary.

What happens if you try to force the gaps between fives to line up?

Yeah - it's a mess isn't it!  Computers are not really good at doing this.

Some holes overlap on the insides of the curves and some are way too close - when we drill them, they'll break into each other.

And others on the outside of the curve are a long way apart.

So we start to tweak each hole individually by hand:

This is a little better, with the holes not overlapping, but they are way too close together for drilling or pegging!

Put in some more work and you get to here:

There's now a little more space between holes, but it's still not even.  Every hole needs moving to re-establish the proper gaps.

But that's just two tracks of 40 holes.

What happens when we add another track?

Or four tracks:

It's like trying to do a u-turn in the street with a big semi truck!

There just isn't room to fit all the holes around the curves with matching groups of fives and even a neat-looking layout would take hours of painstaking work if it was even possible.

And this is with only 40 holes on a simple curved path.

Now look again at the computer aided design option for the same path and four tracks:

The lines are smooth, and the holes are equally spaced. The start and finish look great. There is a little drift in the center, but it is laid out quickly and easily.

In fact, we don't even charge to do this, or to place the engraving and we usually provide free mockups.

Even when after a customer wants to change the path and we have to lay the holes out again from scratch.

Some boards can get pretty twisty trying to fit a continuous track around the engraving within an irregular border:

So that's about it!

Here at the Cribbage Guy, there are only two of us, and David lays out all the boards and makes them.

Time spent moving holes means less time to make boards.

So we can offer you two options:

1. Choose the equally-spaced, computer-assisted hole layout for free on your custom board.


2. Pay to have David lay out and adjust by hand up to 480 holes (4 tracks x 120) on an hour-by-hour basis.

If you wish to order this option, please use this link:  Custom Hole Layout Service


Hopefully it's now a little clearer why we do things the way we do them!

Thanks for reading this through.