I was asked if I could make a Giant Connect Four to have in the garden, as a maker I said "sure I can do that"
I looked around online at what could be bought on places such as eBay and though I could find giant versions of the game most of them are plastic and foam and looked very cheap. I decided to make my version out of wood / MDF and as it was going to be use by kids I decided it would be best not to have any metal or complex reset mechanisms.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
all the materials listed can be bought from the local hardware store and though I have listed a CNC router to cut the counters in the tools used you could easily use a large hole saw or jig saw to cut the counters.
12mm MDF, these could be made of plywood, for the counters
12mm x 32mm Pine Batten
6mm Plywood sheet, i got this cut to size for me in the hardware store
18mm plywood, you could use a piece of pine as this is for the drop plate.
63mm x 38mm stud timber
2 x 400ml cans of coloured paint, I chose green and purple
3 x 400ml cans of spray varnish
102mm Hole Saw
Bench Sander, you could use a block of wood wrapped in sand paper
Plunge router with router bits
Step 2: Planning
The size of the game was dictated by the size of my largest hole saw which is 102mm this will make the holes that you can see the counters through.
I know the size of the holes I will see the counters through, the counters need to be slightly larger than the holes so I decided to make them 120mm in diameter.
Using google sketchup, you could do this using a pencil and paper, I mocked up the face board so I would know how much material I need. I wanted to allow a little bit of space so the counter doesn't touch the edges of the channel and potentially get stuck so I made the channel width 122mm allowing 1 mm each side of the counter.
The batten I am using to make the channels is 32mm wide so I need to account for that in my measurements so with 8 battens at 32mm and 7 holes at 122mm that makes my width 1110mm.
now to work out the height, I allowed 121mm for each row plus 10mm at the top making the height 736mm
Step 3: Cutting the Face Boards
I bought a whole sheet of 6mm Plywood and had the hardware store cut it for me to the correct dimensions which makes it easier to put in the car for transport and one less thing I have to do.
Using a tape measure, long ruler and pencil I marked out the channels and the center points of the holes.
With a hammer and punch I put a little dent in the center point of each of the places for the holes so the drill bit doesn't slip and then drilled a small pilot hole and then carefully went at it with the 102mm hole saw. its important not to put too much pressure on the hole saw as the material is only 6mm thick and could easily snap if you put too much pressure on it,let the saw do most of the work.
I did a quick movement test using a test counter I cut out earlier and just clamped the batten in place.
Step 4: Creating the Channels and Finishing the Main Board
Using a bit of sand paper I sanded the edges of holes on both sides to round the edges slightly, the idea is to help prevent the counter catching on the edges of the holes as they fall.
Cut 8 battens to 732mm and using the bench sander I tapered one end on both sides so that it creates a slightly larger opening at the top to put the counters in.
Apply wood glue to the battens and clamp or use weights to hold them down while they set.
On the board that doesnt have the battens I put strips of masking tape where the battens will go and sprayed it with varnish, the reason for the tape is so that when I apply to the other side with the battens the glue will adhere to the wood and not just to the varnish. I also sprayed the channels on the part with the batten, I did this at this point as I wont be able to get to it once I glue it together.
Once the varnish has set I glued the 2 pieces together to make the main board and used weights to hold it while it set.
Step 5: Making and Painting the Counters
I created circles using google sketchup and cut them using the CNC router, you could cut these using a large hole saw or a jig saw.
Using sand paper to round the edges of the counters so they don't catch as they fall down the channels and to smooth them off after the CNC router.
I gave them a quick test in the board to ensure they fit correctly.
As I am using MDF for the counters I have to seal it before I can paint them. I painted them with PVA sealer and then sanded them smooth again after the first coat and then gave them a second coat of sealer.
Once dry I painted them with grey primer, white gloss to bring out the colour then the colour coat and 2 coats of varnish to finish them. when painting I put down shrink wrap and change the shrink warp between coats so I didnt contaminate a new layer.
there was one mishap, after painting the white gloss on one set of counters I let it set and stacked them while I changed the shrink wrap. it turned out the paint wasn't cured enough and they stuck together so I had to sand the areas where they stuck and repaint them.
once the paint cured I could test them in the board to be sure they fall correctly still.
Step 6: Frame Work and Base Board
I cut 2 pieces of the stud timber to 900mm and using the plunge router I created a channel in each upright at a depth of 15mm to just over the height of the board. I then routed 2 horizontal channels for the base board 20mm deep.
I used a Mortise and Tenon joint to connect the uprights to the feet, I cut the Tenon in the uprights using the router and then test fit the uprights on the board.
Using a piece of 18mm thick plywood, you could use a piece of pine, to create the base board I routed 2 rounded channels to give fingers purchase when removing it to drop the counters, and then cut the board using a jigsaw.
On the feet, which i cut to 400mm, I marked out the hole for the Tennon, the Mortise, and drilled holes so i could cut out the mortise with a jigsaw. Using the bench sander I gave the ends a 45 degree angle so they look nicer.
I glued the uprights in to the feet and once they had set I glued the uprights to the frame and let set before putting in the base board.
Give the whole thing a couple of coats of varnish and the main game board is done.
Step 7: Counter Storage Bags
I wanted a way to store the counters and I thought bags would be good, after some time of looking on ebay for green and purple draw string bags that were the same style I can up short so I decided to buy 2 cotton neutral colour bags and dye them.
I used a hand wash dylon dye and a couple of buckets, following the instructions on the dye I mixed up 6 litres of warm water with salt and put the dye in 500ml of warm water then mixed it in to the buckets and put in the bags. I stirred every 15 minutes for 45 minutes then rinsed them until the water ran clear, dried them on the washing line then ironed them to smooth them out.
Put the counters in and they are done.
Read the instructions on the dye you buy as it may vary.
Step 8: Consulsion
I think the project went well I'm very pleased with how the main board turned out, there is a bit of bounce in the base board when the counters drop which seems to be making the board bounce out gradually. I can solve this by drilling a hole through the side of the frame and in to the base board so I can slot a dowel in to prevent it from moving I might put a nice handle on the dowel for ascetics.
the paint for a counters has a tendency to make the counters stick together which chips the paint which i'm not overly happy with, if I did the project again I would either use different paint of cast the counters out of plastic using a 2 part silicone mould.