Cribbage Board Finishing

I am making four cribbage boards out of quarter sawn cherry. I want to put a clear finish (no stain) on them. What would be the best finish. Tung oil, clear poly? Also, I have never done cribbage boards before. Is it better to drill the holes then finish or finish then drill holes? Thanks for your help.
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put a

oil,
better to

your
Watco. Finish and then drill the holes, otherwise they'll fill full of finish and get all gunked up and the pegs won't fit right.
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Would you put anything over the Watco finish? And thanks for the advise on finishing first.

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advise on

Paste wax.
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Thanks for your help. Jay

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Hi Jay,
I've made several sets of bars skittles for local pubs and incorporated inlaid brass plates drilled as per cribbage boards for scoring. Don't underestimate what a PITA it is to drill all those holes. The human eye is quite forgiving when it comes to matching curves, but it is red-hot on straight lines, and a single hole 1/2mm out in any direction will stick out like a dog's tackle.
Marking out and drilling by hand is a long job. By the time you've marked each hole accurately, centrepopped them, pilot drilled, main drilled and deburred (in my case), you're looking at about 700 operations per board. You can speed things up by producing a template on your PC using something like Visio or a CAD program and churning out a bunch of them on A4. Cut them to size and stick them to your blanks with weak wallpaper paste and it'll save a lot of marking out.
A quicker and more accurate solution is to make up a jig and use the drill-press.
Best solution of all is to have an engineering friend make a template in mild steel, DS tape it to the blank and simply drill through.
Whatever solution you adopt, do a practice run on a waster piece (made from the same wood and finished the same as your project) first to let you see if there are any pitfalls, tearout etc. If you don't practice a new operation on scrap, then you'll be practicing on your project, and that can lead to expensive mistakes.
BTW, large copper nails "turned" in the drill-press with a file and emery make nice pegs. So do the mock-ivory pegs that you can buy in luthier suppliers for holding the ball-ends of the string in place in many steel-strung guitars (if your board is quite large).
HTH
Frank

a
to
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