Introduction: Building Better Cornhole Boards!
Want to build the best cornhole boards on your block?
Here's everything you need to do just that!
Before we begin, don't forget to follow @MossBoards on Instagram to see more pics and how-to videos.
Here, you'll learn how to make ACO / ACA Spec Cornhole boards with great materials that don't weigh too much and are ready to customize with paints, stains, decals or wraps. Let's get started!
Plywood: 1 sheet of 3/4" Birch Plywood.
- Why? 3/4" means the bags won't bounce and the boards won't warp. Anything thinner will bounce more and other woods may not take stain or work well with stencils. I love 11-ply birch. It tends to have fewer voids. 5-ply is good but be careful the dreaded voids. Check local lumber yards for better plywood at better prices than you-know-where. One 4' x 8' sheet is exactly enough for four playing surfaces (decks) or two sets of boards.
- Most backyard builders will use 2"x4" lumber for their frames but I wouldn't recommend it. I like 1" x 3" or 1" x 4" (four 8 footers) Common boards. All pictures shown are 1" x 3" which are very strong but lighter than 1" x 4" boards. Get an extra board if you're making legs from the same material. Select or Poplar boards are great too but Common are fine as long as they're very straight. Be Picky!
- 2" x 2" (1) select board for the legs if you like the look in the picture.
- 1 1/4" coarse screws (a lot)
- 3" long 3/8" carriage bolts (4), washers (8), lock nuts (4)
- Stainable and sandable wood filler, I like Minwax brand
- Sand paper in 80 and 220 grit
- Power drill
- Mitre Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Socket set
- Router with 1/4" roundover bit and (optional) straight cutting bit (upspiral flush trim, or two-fluted flush trim) or 6" hole saw *optional
Step 1: Prep the Decks!
1. Rip your 3/4" birch plywood down to 2' x 4' pieces. You can let the hardware store guy do it or, if you're a control freak like me, the Kreg Ripcut guide is awesome for this step and works with your circular saw. Use an ultra fine blade. I suggest taping the wood where you'll cut it to reduce tear outs. Rip the plywood down the middle with the grain at 24" then crosscut those long pieces in the middle at 48", this is where taping before cutting helps a lot.
2. Cut your 6" hole. The center point of the hole is centered 9" below the top edge.
- -6" hole saw, a powerful drill and a strong arm.
- -Router using a straight cut bit with a circle jig or 6" hole template and a flush trim bit.
- -Jigsaw - this method is NOT advised - even the steadiest hand won't cut perfect holes with a jigsaw.
3. Route the top and bottom edges of the decks including the top and bottom of the holes with a 1/4" roundover bit. I also like to round the corners just slightly with a flush trim bit using a template just before rounding them over. The smooth rounded edges will prolong bag life and it looks & feels great!
4. Fill and sand any voids in the edges using a sandable and stainable wood filler. I like Minwax wood filler. It dries fast and after sanding, virtually disappears.
Step 2: Cut All Your Frame Boards
I recommend using 1" x 3" frame boards, they weigh less than 2x4s not to mention they're easier to work with, less bulky and look better. Also, you can attach the boards suitcase style for portability when they're built.
- Sides (4) 47 1/2"
- Bottom, Brace, Top (6) 22"
- Leg Brace (2) 21 3/4"
Step 3: Prep Your Frame Boards
Drill pocket holes in the uglier of the two sides of ALL your frame boards. I recommend Kreg jigs for this. If you're making more than a couple sets of boards, the Kreg K4 or better is a big time-saver.
Frame sides: 8 evenly spaced pocket holes
Top, Center & Bottom frame pieces: 3 pocket holes facing downward, 2 pocket holes facing outward on the left and right edges to attach to the sides.
Step 4: Assemble Those Frames
I made a simple jig using mdf and cheap metal brackets to ensure proper placement of frame pieces. I highly recommend doing this if you're building more than one set.
- Clamp all the frame pieces in place - It's important that both of your frames are exactly the same so they sit straight. Also, if you want to attach the boards suitcase style after they're completed - they need to be placed exactly the same so they line up. Measure carefully and mark the table or build a frame jig like this. *Notice that the bottom frame board is pulled back 1/2" this is done to allow room for an eye bolt, one of the final steps.
- Place the boards, clamp them downward and across, drill the joints using 1 1/4" screws.
Step 5: Attach the Frames to the Playing Deck
(match steps with pictures)
- Round over the corners of the frames to match the rounded corners of the playing surface.
- Place and clamp the frames in place. I recommend using something the exact width of the overhang to ensure consistent placement of the frame from one board to the next
- 3. Mark all 8 corners of the frame with a pencil and pre-drill through the pocket holes into the playing deck *Be careful not to drill through the surface of the deck!
- Remove clamps, flip the frame over, clean up all the dust from pre-drilling and apply a small bead of glue to the frame edge.
- Clamp the frame back in place aligning with the marks you made in step 3. Drill 1 1/4" screws all the way around to permanently attach the frame.
- I glue small 1" x 3" blocks to the top board corners. These beef-up the corners so the frame won't break if a kid like mine jumps on them.
*These pictures were taken when I was assembling some short 36" "Tailgater" boards. the process is the same for regulation sized boards.
Step 6: Finish Your Frames
(match to 4 pictures)
- Use a 1/4" round over bit to route all the edges nice and smooth. This prevents splintering. It also makes the boards much easier on the hands.
- Drill your bolt holes. Both holes need to be EXACTLY the same. This is critical so your legs sit at the same angle. I use a little hole guide so the left and right are in exactly the same placement.
- & 4 Hole placement is 3/4" from the deck and 2 1/2" from the top of the frame. Remember, I added the small block inside the frame which moves the bolt hole further down.
Step 7: Prep the Legs
If you like this look, round over the 2" x 2" select boards with a 1/4" round over bit so they match the smooth frames.
(match steps to pictures)
- Cut the boards down to 13"
- & 3. Drill bolt holes dead center about 3/4" down, drill press is preferred to ensure the holes are straight.
4. Cut the top edge corners at 30-35 degree angle
5. Smooth out the rounded ends with a sander
Step 8: Assemble the Legs (part 1)
(match these 6 steps to the picture)
1. Hand tighten the legs in place with a regular nut or wing nut. These nuts are temporary, you'll remove them in a few minutes.
2. Position the board with outstretched legs overhanging the edge of a flat work surface. Two paint cans work great to lift the top end of the board.
3 & 4. Position the height of the board exactly 12" from the table it is sitting on.
5. Mark the cut line for both of the legs. It's easier if you mark the same side of both legs so you don't have to adjust your mitre saw much (if at all) for the second leg.
6. Mark the legs and inside of the board L/L R/R so you know where they go after you cut them.
Step 9: Assemble the Legs (part 2) & Extras
(Match 8 steps to pictures)
1 & 2). Cut exactly to your marks using mitre saw
3. Bolt the legs in place with washers on both sides of the leg for smooth movement. Use lock nuts so they stay put. Regular nuts will get loose or fall off with all the opening and closing of the legs.
4. Pre-drill holes in the leg brace so they're nice and even. I use this handy little jig so the holes are always perfect.
5. Position the leg brace using a block. I like mine to be hovering dead center over the 6" hole. Drill countersink and attach leg brace with 1 1/4" screws.
6. Fill the holes with wood filler or wood plugs (shown here). If you use wood plugs, you can sand them flat or leave the rounded buttons.
7. (optional) Install eye bolt to the bottom frame board. Include 27' cord with snap clasps for easy setup of your boards every time you play. No more measuring the playing distance!
8. (optional) Install rubber stopper feet so the boards don't slide on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete.
Step 10: (optional) Extras
Rope handles, Rubber stopper feet and 27" playing distance cord make the boards play a little better and they're more portable.
Don't forget to follow @MossBoards on Instagram and Facebook, let me know how your boards turn out!