Commissions: A Bespoke Backgammon Game With A Contemporary Spin

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Entering a new realm of product this month…. board games. Mark and I have chatted before about making kids toys from plywood such as puzzles and cut out shapes, but until now games for adults hadn’t really been on the cards (excuse the pun!).

Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.

It all started when we met a friendly chap called Chris at Netil Market in London Fields back in April. He spotted our products and was keen to see if we could make his vision of a contemporary backgammon set a reality. With a background in architecture and surveying, Chris sent over some detailed 3D sketches of the board game complete with measurements so we had something solid to work from.

Chris’s sketch

Chris’s sketch

We chatted the design through and made some minor adjustments to the spec based on the thickness of the plywood, then used CAD to sketch up the final drawing ready for laser cutting. Chris selected the colours from some swatches of painted plywood, and we love his final selection of the grey contrasted with the luders green!

Colour options for Chris to choose from

Colour options for Chris to choose from

A CAD of the disc counters

A CAD of the disc counters

The next part was the fun bit, making it. Mark laser cut all of the pieces from plywood and together we sanded off the burnt edges and glued them in several stages for the construction.

Once the frame was constructed, more sanding has to be done to ensure the box was beautifully smooth and that all of the edges alined. I hand-sprayed the colour onto the marquetry pieces using an airbrush and watered down paint, and once dry I applied a layer of varnish before inserting and gluing to the board.

Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.

The round discs ended up taking about a day to make, mostly because there were so many of them and each had to undergo a number of processes from hand-sanding to spraying on colour, and gluing to varnishing. They were really satisfying to make though and look really neat!

Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.

Once the box was fully constructed and all of the marquetry inserted, the next step was to varnish the entire thing, twice. A light sand was done in-between each layer to make sure it has that super smooth finish.

Et voila! Our first ever board game commissioned by Chris.

A big thank you to Chris for giving us the opportunity to make something as unique as this for him. We hope he gets many hours of enjoyment out of playing this game… what a special piece to own.

Here it is in it’s full glory….

Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
Bespoke Backgammon Game by Studio Mali.  Made In London.
We were attracted to the Studio Mali stall at Netil Market on a sunny Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago by their simple yet beautifully designed place mats and coasters. We had a chat with delightful Mark who explained a bit about Studio Mali and how they make their designs. We also asked about Commissions. We went home and pondered and discussed and got in touch with Mark by email and that was the birth of a bespoke Backgammon set. We collected the Backgammon set and the placemats and coasters from Mark and Ali a couple of weeks later and they are even more beautiful than we could have hoped for. It is such a joy to have things in your home which are beautiful and useful and made with such love and passion. Thank you Mark and Ali so much for making and designing these oh so special pieces for us. We feel some more Commissions coming on!
— Chris and Julie Ttoffali

If there’s something that you would like us to work on, a bespoke piece that you can’t find elsewhere, then why not get in contact. Whether it’s a piece of furniture, an item of jewellery or something special for your home, we may be able to make your dream a reality. Just send us an email on with some information about your project and we will get back to you shortly.

You can also check out our commissions page to see what else we’ve been working on….

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Commissions - A Bespoke Backgammon Game With A Contemporary Spin

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Video: How We Make The Luders Placemats

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Happy New Year to you all!

We used the festive holiday to rest (eat and drink too much), reflect and ponder on what might be next to our Studio Mali adventure. We’ve set ourselves a few targets for the start of the year. Although selling at markets over Christmas was an amazing experience, oh my it was tiring! We didn't have a second to think about what 2019 might hold. So we made some decisions, firstly taking a few months off the markets to develop some new products, spend some time sprucing up the market stall aesthetics and a sneaky little winter get-away to Hungary. We also wanted to start sharing how we make our products to help our readers understand what goes into each product. So here we are…

Let us introduce an in-the-making video of our most recent product the Luders Placemats, inspired by architecture of the Marie-Elisabeth Luders Haus on the bank of the river Spree, Berlin. We were a bit camera shy to do a full voiceover but we’ve recorded all the processes that are needed to get it ready for the kitchen table! Of course, for the sake of story telling and repetition we have skipped some of the repeated sanding stages, we didn’t want to bore you!

Here’s the finished article, click the image for safe passage to the shop…

Here’s the finished article, click the image for safe passage to the shop…


  1. The making starts by sending the CAD design to our CAM machine, in this case a laser cutter. We place in a piece of sustainably sourced birch-faced aeroply that has been cut down from a larger sheet. We are careful to pick pieces with the most interesting grain and with the fewest blemishes. We also check that the grain is vertical.

  2. After laser cutting, we number and masking tape the individual pieces so we can fit them back together later, systems are quite important when you make 20 of the same thing that are essentially large puzzles!

  3. We finish the wood with three different grades of sandpaper. First a rough p120, a finer p400 and very fine p600 which leaves the plywood really smooth to touch.

  4. We use an airgun to apply the different colours, making 2/3 passes per colour, cleaning out the gun with water between passes and colour changes. This part is quite time consuming as we always run into problems getting the acrylic paint to the correct consistency.

  5. Then, we apply a strong resin-based adhesive to the 0.8mm aeroply layer which are then fixed to a 4mm plywood base that we prepared earlier, preparation is everything they say!

  6. We are careful to clamp everything in the right place (that’s a Radiohead song right?) whilst the adhesive sets. Note: if we get this bit wrong the whole piece is ruined and we will have to start again.

  7. Then the fun part, sanding the burnt edges on the electric sander and cleaning up the rounded corners. After the rough finish on the sand belt, we follow the same process as before hand sanding the backs and edges with a rough grit p60 on the logo and then p120, p400 and finally p600 which leaves the ply incredibly smooth.

  8. We hoover or brush off the extra dust particles and prepare the wood for varnishing.

  9. To get the best finish we use a spray polyurethane varnish that is applied in even layers. The finish is key, as it offers a long-lasting protection to just about everything the kitchen can throw at it. It’s not as environmentally friendly as other finishes but it should last a lifetime if looked after, which counter balances its damaging polymer credentials.

  10. We finish with a last light sand with the p600 sand paper and then its finished, voila!

Here’s the video:

We hope you enjoyed our making video! If there’s anything else you’d like to know about the product or processes involved we would love to hear from you. Just pop your comment in the box below and we will get back to you.


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