Creating something from pallets is inexpensive and rewarding - transforming near junk into something refined is very gratifying. This Instructable will show you how to make the outdoor game Cornhole, from a few pallets.
Pallets work great for this project, since the long side of a typical pallet matches the final length of the cornhole boards. Also, since this will be an outdoor game that will get beat up a bit, rough quality wood is more than ample.
Step 1: Gathering Raw Materials and Tools
For this project you'll need at least 3 pallets, the more slats per pallet the better. Try to find pallets with good rails (~2x4's) and also try to find at least 4 over sized slats (5" to 6" width - typically on the ends of pallets). Dismantle the pallets, keeping in mind that you will not need the full length of the slats so you can make some comprises if need be.
Materials needed from pallets:
48" rails (6x)
5" to 6" wide slats (4x)
Slats of varying sizes (a bunch)
Bolts (4x), nuts (4x), washers (8x) - long enough to bind two rail widths together. I used 3" bolts and recessed them.
Nails, screws, glue
Hammer/mallet and/or crowbar for dismantling pallets
Jigsaw, possibly circular saw, possibly table saw (dependent on desired quality)
Belt sander, possibly planer
Step 2: Measuring, Cutting, Assembly.
You will be making two boards, so obviously repeat the procedures twice.
Frame assembly (rails)
Follow the dimensions shown above to cut the rails into a 2x4' rectangle; assemble with screws and glue.
Top assembly (slats)
At this point there is some variability in how you can proceed with attaching the slats. You can choose to plane the boards, straighten up the edges on a table saw, cut the boards to width or some combination of those things now or later.
I chose to only straighten the edges on the slats now on the table saw, and started nailing/glue the boards together. I glued both slats to the rails and the slats to slats. I tried to choose the best part the boards to end up in the center of the board. Be sure to use the larger 5 or 6" boards for where the hole will be. Simply measure 9" down from one end and center the larger boards around that. As seen in the photos. This will allow you to cut a hole and maintain some integrity around the hole.
Note: On a previous build, I simply laid the raw slats down and it worked out fine, just ended up with slightly larger spaces and gaps between the slats.
Cutting the top
Once you're happy with the slats on top, cut sides using a circular saw or jigsaw, while maintaining the 2x4' shape, leaving some extra for sanding.
Step 3: Refining the Surface
Use a planer and/or a belt sander to level and smooth the surface as flat as possible. One downside to not doing this before hand is you will plane/sand the tops of nails holding the boards down. My planer blade was old and broken anyway so I wasn't too upset about knicking it.
Step 4: Cutting the Hole
Make a simple jig for your jigsaw. Measure 3" from the blade path and drill a hole for pinning the jig down (the radius). Following the dimensions listed in step 2 and align and cut your hole. Keep in mind the jig is attached to the wood your cutting out so toward the end it'll get wobbly right before it falls out. You can temporally reinforce the hole from below if you choose. The final diameter will be 6".
Step 5: Creating the Legs
Using some more rails cut 4 lengths to 16" long. Round one end of each leg, and drill the appropriately sized hole in the center of your rounded end for the bolt. The 16" legs will give you enough length to later cut the appropriate height of your boards.
Use a scrap piece of rail as a spacer to plan where your leg will attach to the frame. Using your drilled hole in the leg, drill the accompanying hole into the frame. Using the bolts, washers, and nuts attach your legs.
Note: working with pallets always leads to quirks with dimensions due to the rough nature of the wood. You may have to flip and rotate your legs across the boards to see which legs look most similar together and give roughly the same angles etc.
Once you have the legs assembled you need to cut them so that the final height of the top of the board is 1 foot. There are varying techniques out there for making this cut. I simply put the boards on a level surface with legs attached and fully extended, measured my raw height, subtracted the amount needed to get to 1 foot, and then marked the legs and cut. (I apologize, I forgot photos for this process)
Step 6: Finishing Touches
At this point your boards are essentially finished. With a little more sanding and some recommended layers of polyurethane you're all set.
Keeping with the low cost theme, I made some bags out of old jeans and filled them with corn. Cheaper than buying canvas, and the jean material works great.
Enjoy your new Cornhole Boards!