So if you've not heard of it, there's a really good set of books by Patrick Rothfuss; the first of which is called The Wise Man's Fear. I will apologize if anyone reads it because the guy has been writing the 3rd book for what seems like forever and I'm champing at the bit to read it. You'll have to wait too! Anyway, in the books the main character learns to play a game called TAK. It's left vague, but the author and Cheapass Games came up with a rule set for the game (rules here: Cheapass Games). My wife and I both really liked the book, and I decided to have a go at building my own travel table (it's already been camping!). Just a side note, this design might work well enough for checkers or chess too, but you'd need smaller squares; maybe it wouldn't be playable at that size? Not sure, it's TAK not checkers!To start, I picked up an 8 1/2 x 11" piece of leather from Michaels craft store for I believe 6 dollars. I then cut out a roughly square shape with a little flap from one side. I went around the outside and recut the square to be slightly wavy to help 'blend' in any poor craftsmanship into the rugged design.
After that I used a leather punch. I'm sure there's other things you could make holes with but I'd want to avoid a knife or anything that would create weakness in the leather (don't want it to rip when drawing the bag closed). The leather punch was also conveniently in my collection already from creating rivets for Warhammer tanks! Anyway nothing special here, just a few holes throughout, and then I picked up some leather? string (it's not leather, it's more plastic but was in the leather section at the store). This was 5 dollars. Oh and two holes also go in the flap thing for later when you close it up.
Last two stages combined into one photo; I used a soldering iron (for melting solder for electrical work) and branded a 5x5 grid onto the leather. This was VERY easy and it was a total shot in the dark before I did it. At first I wasn't sure it would work but once the iron was hot enough I just drew the box on like it was a marker. I embellished a bit and drew a heart, some wavy lines and the game name (in case someone ever finds this and wants to figure out what mysterious game it is).
The pieces were found in my closet in a cheap 8 in 1 game box (you know the type, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, backgammon). Anyway I took the checkers pieces and a pawn for the two colours and tossed the rest (it had never been played). If you didn't have these you could easily use a piece of dowel and some stain or paint.
Gently pull on the string, put each end of the string through the two eyelets in the flap, and you have a fully contained bag/satchel to hold the game. And it's weather resistant :) This was my first quick and easy experience with leather and cost me less than $15.
Oh and if you've gotten this far and are wondering, TAK is more complex than checkers, and less so than Chess (at least in my opinion) and my wife and I love it. Takes about 2 minutes to explain to someone, and about as many hours for it to sink in :) Check out the rules here Cheapass Games)