Making a set of Reeds game equipment

To make a set of reeds game equipment, there are three elements to make:
  1. the poles the reeds sit on
  2. the actual reeds
  3. the portable holes (or some method of standing them up)

The basic concept I have found that works well is to make octagonal poles with a wooden disk on top that has a magnet embedded in it, and embed a magnet in the bottom of each reed, and tie a loose thin cord from the pole to the reed. I stand them up using "portable holes".

  • Five 60" 2x4s (to make ten 5' poles)
  • 6" x 15" piece of 3/4" plywood (or other board)
  • Twenty 3/4" disc magnets
  • 10 small screw-eyes
  • 15' of thin cord (18" per reed)
  • 60" of 1-1/4" dowel
  • 10 portable holes

Each of these thumbnails below is a link to the large photo. 

The top of the reed pole, showing the pole, the reed, and the attaching cord.

A sample package of magnets. You can find these at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, or sometimes Lowe's. (215kb)

Using 3/4" magnets in 1-1/4" dowel. (55kb)



  1. Take five 2x4s 60-inches long, and cut them "square" (rather than in "half"), so you have 10 square 2x2 poles, and then octagonalize them. (2x4s aren't really 2" x 4", which is why I say cut them "square".)
    I octagonalize the square poles by running them through the table saw (with the blade tilted) or using a router (with 45-degree chamfer bit) to take off each corner at a 45-degree angle.)

  2. Cut 10 wooden disks approx 2 or 2-1/2 inches diameter from the plywood. Make a positioning jig (so you can drill in the center of each disk) and use a 3/4" Forstner bit to drill down 1/4" (depth of magnet) in the center of each disk. I find marking the Forstner bit makes it easy.

A wooden disk, cut with a hole saw, approx 2 or 2-1/2" diameter (140kb)


The disk with a hole drilled (using a Forstner bit). (215kb) 

The marked Forstner bit. (119kb)


  1. Mount the wooden disk to top of the poles, ensuring the screw is inset deep enough that the magnet will sit flush in the disk.

    Glue magnets into disks, and sand as necessary so the magnet is flush with the top of the disk.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: It is advisable to mark all the magnets so they get glued in the disks and reeds the same way (so they stick rather than repel).


  1. Cut 10 reeds, two of each size: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 long. (You can use 1" dowel, but it is harder to drill. I use 1-1/4" dowel.)   There are two options for the reeds:

    1. Simply drill the bottom of the dowel and insert the magnet,


    2. Cut extra disks, as the base for each reed, and drill the disks (attaching the dowel and then inserting the magnet).

    Make a positioning jig (so you can drill in the center of each reed or disk) and use 3/4" Forstner bit to drill a 1/4" (depth of magnet) hole in one end of each reed. Glue the magnet into the reed (so it will stick to the magnet in the disk on top of the pole).

  2. Drill a small hole (big enough for the cord) all the way through each reed, about 1/2" to 3/4" up from the magnet.


1-1/4" dowels with 3/4" magnets. (55kb)


Magnet glued into the bottom of the reed, also showing the hole drilled all the way through with the cord attached. (115kb)



  1. Paint the reeds and poles as desired.

  2. Screw a screweye into the pole approx 1-1/2" below the disk. Tie the cord to the reed and to the screweye. [Reeds-8]

  3. Make 10 portable holes. You may have to slightly shave the 8 angles of the bottom 12" or so of the poles to make them fit your portable holes. You want the poles reasonably snug so they don't wobble.

The disk painted and the cord tied to the screweye. (226kb)  

A portable hole and an octagonal pole. (223kb)


The octagonal edges cut off so the pole fits in the portable hole. (614kb)

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