Instructions for making The Mah-Jong Card Game

These instructions are also available as a PDF document which you can print.

Making this Mah-Jong set does require some careful cutting out. It is suggested that you use a paper trimmer to make the job easier.

Making the Mah-Jong game cards

The game cards come on 10 larger cards measuring 6½” x 8¾” (16.5cm x 22.2cm).
Here’s cards 1 and 10:

It is suggested that you start with card 10, cutting along the lines between the cards and following this sequence:

  • Cut off the two vertical side strips .. Cuts 1 & 2
  • Cut horizontally .. Cuts 3 – 7
  • Cut off the individual cards
  • Repeat the above steps for all the other cards

Note that major cards have gold borders and minor cards have red borders.

Extra Jokers


The extra jokers are intended for people who play by American Mah-Jongg rules, where 8 jokers are required.


Riichi Mahjong Red Fives


An alternative card 10 is provided for those who play Japanese Riichi Mahjong with “Red Fives”

This provides the 5 Characters, 5 Circles & 5 Bamboos cards
(all coloured red).

A second 5 Circle is provided as sets often have this and some players like to use all 4 tiles, rather than just 3.


Spare game cards


There are 2 spare game cards in case you lose any – one for a major card and one for a minor.
But note that replacement cards are also available.


Wind indicators

The 4 Wind indicator cards are used to indicate the Winds that each of the players represents. They are moved around during the course of the game.


Using the corner cut-out templates

Sheet 10 contains 2 corner cut-out templates which will help with rounding off the corners of the cards. It is suggested that using a nail clipper will make the job easier.

First carefully cut the corners off the templates. Use a nail file to get rid of any irregularities. Then use a template to cut the corners of each of the Mah-Jong cards by positioning the template on top of each card and cutting off the exposed corner.

Making the card racks

Cut out and score the card racks

Each player uses 3 card racks, so 12 card racks need to be made for 4 people to play.
You will need 2Card game rackscards and 1Card game rack stabilizers card.

Cut out the 6 card racks from each “Card game racks” card as shown in the picture, then cut out each “Card game rack stabilizer“. Each card rack requires 2 “Card game rack stabilizers“.

Take each rack and, using the points of a sharp knife and a ruler to guide its line of travel, score along the scoring lines indicated. Be careful not to cut through the card.


Bend the card

The middle section of the rack is going to be its base and the other two sections will be its front and back. To achieve this you will need to carefully bend the card along the score lines (making sure that you are bending away from the scored side). Work gradually along the length of each score line.

Bend each side right over until it touches the back of the card. With the front and back pinched together, the side view will show a triangle (see photo below).

Attach the front and back of the rack

Cut a strip of cello tape about ¼” (0.6cm) wide and 1″ (2.5cm) long then, with the back and front of the rack pinched together, secure the two sides in place at one end. Repeat for the other end of the rack.

You should now have a long triangular shape with a slot where the cards will fit.

Attach the stabilizers

A stabilizer now needs to be attached to each end of the rack, underneath its base using paper clips. Each stabilizer should project at the front and back of the rack.

Using paper clips, rather than glue, means that you can detach the stabilizers for easier storage.


Add the cards to the racks

Each rack will easily take 4 cards.
The dealt hand is, of course, 13 cards (and 14 to East Wind) – so you will need to overlap some of them.


Making the dice

Cut out the dice disc using the cut lines indicated. Try to keep an edge of gold.
Remove the head of a match stick and round this end using sandpaper or a nail file.
Pierce a hole in the centre of the dice disc using a sharp point – be careful not to make too big a hole – then put a match-stick through the hole, such that the rounded end is underneath the dice images.

If the hole is a bit too large so that the match stick works loose, remove it and stick some cello tape to the underneath of the disc (covering the hole). Make a small hole in the centre of the disc again and replace the match stick.

To “roll the dice” spin the disc and wait for it to stop. The side that comes to rest on the table is the “throw” of the dice.

Obtaining a score sheet

A score sheet can be downloaded (as a PDF file) from my shop. You can then print the PDF from your computer.  (Also there a “Beginner’s score card” which will help with the scoring for those playing by BMJA rules).

There are two types of score sheet – one with extra columns for a longer session.

Replacement cards

If you lose or damage a game card you can get a replacement card. There are 3 large cards which, together, contain all the cards in the set – but singly, so as to minimise the chance of needing to buy multiple identical game cards.

Some considerations when playing

Shuffling the cards

Do not shuffle the cards too vigorously as there will then be a risk of one of them bending.
You may prefer to shuffle piles of them in your hands and then replace them on the table.

Building the walls

Unlike tiles, the Mah-Jong cards are stacked in piles of 4 so that each wall is 9 cards long. It allows the walls to fit onto a card table and occupy approximately the same area that would be used by tiles.

In American Mah-Jongg, where 152 tiles are used, East and West will need to build walls which are 10 cards long.

Creating the kong box and dealing

The wall is broken and the kong box created such that the dealing of the cards to each player can be done by just giving each person one pile of 4 cards in turn.

This rule determines how the kong box is to be constructed, irrespective of the number of cards that it contains. Not all versions of the game have the same number of cards as the British (BMJA) rules.

Placing cards on the table

To save space identical cards should be placed on top of one another. Also, rather than placing them in an haphazard manner, you may find it helps if you arrange the suit cards in sequence. This helps a lot with identifying which tiles remain in the wall.

Again to save on space, you may wish to show an exposed pung or kong as a pile of cards, rather than putting the 3 or 4 cards alongside one another.