Introduction: "Lawn Darts" From Reclaimed Materials
I made an outdoor dartboard from some old house studs and a dartboard I found in a basement. If you like the project, I'd be honored if you'd vote for me in a couple contests.
Let's see how this thing came together!
Step 1: Assemble Materials
This dartboard case is made from an old dartboard I found in my girlfriend's basement, plus some old studs from a house that was being gutted. These are traditional 2x4's, which means that they're actually 2 inches by 4 inches (or close to that) as opposed to modern 2x4's which are about a quarter inch smaller. These traditional 2x4's are also rough on the outside edges, which I think creates a really pretty look.
The 4 salvaged pieces I used in this project were cut down to about 45 inches long; since the dartboard is about 18 inches in diameter, and about 1.5 inches deep, I needed to resaw the lumber and ended up with a slightly smaller box than I was expecting.
Step 2: Resaw, Joint, and Plane
I resawed the studs down to about 3/4 inches in thickness by running them through the table saw a few times; I made sure to preserve the rough outer faces, and ended up with two boards from each stud. Once I'd finished resawing, I cross cut the boards to be about 21 inches in length.
I chose to keep the rough outer edge on two boards, which became the outer edges of the doors. I ran the remaining pieces over the jointer to create a clean face on both edges, and then through the planer to make sure all pieces were the same thickness, 5/8ths of an inch.
Step 3: Glue Up the Panels
I glued up two sets of panels. One solid panel of 6 boards for the back, and two panels of 3 boards each for the doors. I wish I'd had a clamping caul or a clamping board to keep the boards from bowing during clamping, but I ended up using some extra clamps to pull the boards into alignment.
After the glue up, I had four pieces left over for the sides.
Step 4: Cut Rabbets Into Side Panels and Glue Up the Frame
I cut a 5/8th x 1/2 inch rabbet into the long side of each of the four side pieces, making several passes with a table router and checking to make sure the back panel fit well. I also cut 5/8th x 1/2 inch rabbets along the narrow edges of two of the side pieces, creating a rabbet on three sides for two pieces and a rabbet on one side for two pieces.
I cut the pieces with one rabbet down by about 1 inch (1/2"+ 1/2", the thickness of two rabbets), and fit all four pieces together into a square frame. The top and bottom of the frame are the shorter pieces, which set into the rabbets on the narrow edges; the rabbets along the long edge of all four pieces line up to create a "pocket' that the back panel sets into. I used corner clamps to keep the back square, and a clamping strap to create pressure around the whole frame during the glue up. Once the frame was set, I tacked it together with some 1 inch brad nails.
Step 5: Glue and Tack the Back Panel and Screw in Dartboard
Once the glue had set up on the panels, I used the table saw to cur the back panel down to fit snugly into the square frame. I shaved a little material off at a time until I had a tight fit, then glued and tacked the back panel into the rabbet along the back of the frame. From there, I centered the dartboard and ran screws through the back of the box to mount the board. I wish I had some strong double-sided tape on hand during this process; it would have made screwing the dartboard in easier.
A really good double sided tape may even have negated the need to run screws through the back of the box, but I figured that since this was going to be outside, I might want to make the board easy to replace in case it got weathered quickly.
Step 6: Install Doors
To finish the doors, I used some scrap left over from trimming up the back panel to make cross bars across the two door panels; I ran a bead of glue along the back and tacked them in with brads from the front. I rant the doors through the table saw to take a bit off of the central boards to get them to fit the frame; I also ran them through with the blade beveled to take off just a bit of material from the backside of the center of each door. This makes them easier to open and close.
I then used the cross bars as midpoints for some decorative hinges I got from Home Depot; I simply centered the hinges and lined the hinge joint up with along the backside of the door, then screwed them in by hand. It's pretty easy to screw these small screws into soft wood by hand; a drill might have been faster but I was concerned about it stripping the screws.
Once the doors were installed, I screwed a simple latch onto the middle of the doors.
Step 7: Install French Cleats and Test Hang
I used some scrap wood to make a couple French cleats for hanging the board; this let's me easily hang the board on a tree in my yard without screwing the board itself directly to the tree, making it easy to take the board inside in the winter time. I had a fairly flat plane the I was able to attach the French cleats to, though the board did have a slight backward tilt to it. I'm not a competitive dart player so this doesn't bother me, and it actually helped keep the doors from swinging forward after being opened.
If you're wondering, the standard height from the floor to the bullseye on the dartboard is 5 feet 8 inches, while the oche (distance between the front of the board and the toeline) should measure 7 feet 9.25 inches. On the tree, I got pretty close.
Step 8: Add Magnets, Paint With Chalkboard Paint, and Give It a Go.
I added some magnets to the top of each door to keep the doors from hanging open - you could skip this step if you wanted, but I liked the nice solid feel of the doors closing completely.
I also masked and painted the backs of the doors with chalk paint, and once the paint was dry I grabbed a friend and a set of old darts and we went to town. Works great! It's a ton of fun to play "lawn darts" in the comfort of my back yard, and I'm looking forward to many a summer afternoon spent in friendly competition.
Thank you for reading! If you liked this project, please check out my other Instructables (most of which document me building fun stuff for my backyard) and consider voting for this project in the myriad contests I've entered it into - just click the voting link at the top of the page. If you've made a cool game for your own lawn, I'd love to see it in the comments!
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