Introduction: Portable Gaga Pit From Repurposed Fence
Gaga ball is growing in popularity in the U.S. With more people playing. It originated out of the Middle East and most Americans still don't know what it is. I was introduced at a college retreat and was wanting one for a homecoming game, tail gaining. They're massive, so the thoughts started on a portable one. Then the youth group at my church got hooked and have been asking for one so I saw it as my opportunity. My girlfriends neighbor was replacing their fence so I asked if they would save the panels for me. Also I learned fence companies usually just take the replaced panels to the dump and will usually just give them to you.
Rules vary slightly in Gaga ball but are pretty close to the same. This is only for the gaga pit so if you're wanting to know how to play do a google search.
Step 1: Materials
This notebook paper show my original designs and thought through the steps
A saw: I used a 7 1/4in hand held circular saw
Hand saw: not a necessity, but it helped me finish my cut that didn't go all the way through
Gorilla glue: this gets expensive but is strong enough to hold all the pieces together
Nails: I used just whatever would hold the wood on till the gorilla glue dried and happened to be 1 1/4in finishing nails
Plywood: I got 2, 4ft X 4ft pieces that are pretty thin. Thicker ones will be less flimsy
Bolts x24: use rounded head bolts that are flatter. These will be on the inside where people might bump them and it could hurt if they're a normal bolt head.
Nuts x24: just to tighten the bolts
Washers x24: cause they go with the nuts
Some fence panels
Step 2: Getting the Fence Panels Ready
Figure out how many pickets you want on each panel. I put 9 on each. This made it super tall and hard to jump in to, but I added an addition at the end that makes it work great. If you go shorter, maybe 7 pickets would be good
Time for the saw. Make sure the boards aren't sitting on your concrete driveway or something since you'll be cutting through them. When you make cuts, your going to cut through the 3 2x4s that are usually horizontal on the back of a fence.
Once you cut through all three 2x4s you have your first panel. Keep going till you have 8.
It's helpful to have a little extra fencing than what you need. When I cut mine, there were some pickets that were splintered or broke and I needed replacements. The only thing is sometimes it's difficult to get pickets off the fencing to put them where you need without cracking or breaking them. Remember we're replacing broken or worn out ones. We don't need to break more.
After you get them all feel free to just stack them. Also it helps in the confusion to number the panels so you know which goes where. Since they're not all the exact same, they'll fit differently with each other. Plus you'll need to know every time you assemble it which panel is aligned with which ever is next, so just go ahead and number them.
Step 3: Cut a 45
This part had me stumped for a good while. Through doing test cuts we found the 7 1/4 in saw didn't cut all the way through with a cut that 45 degrees. So I had to improvise a bit.
On one end of a 2x4, draw an approximate 45 degree to figure where you need to cut. Check your angle and make sure the cut will angle away from the end. If you mess this up you won't have a gaga pit
From where the 45 degree meets the back, draw a straight line to give your saw something to follow.
Make the cut. Every time I made the pass, that part of the 2x4 fell off but it didn't cut all the way through the pickets for them to fall off.
This is a view from one end showing how close that cut was to going all the way through.
Since there's already a partial 45 cut here, I just took a hand saw and followed it. Since there's barely any wood left, the hand saw wasn't difficult and made quick work.
When you're done you're left with a 45 degree angle consisting of the 2x4 on the back and the end of the pickets.
Step 4: Cut the Other End at a 45
I forgot to get a picture for this one so instead I put a picture of a sculpture of hands in terminal D of DFW airport because that's where I'm writing this while I'm waiting on a plane. Anyways it's an easy step.
I cut the first 45 degree angle on the bottom of the fence. This step is for cutting a 45 degree angle at the other end. You want to make the exact same cut angling away from the end you are cutting. If the angle of both ends continued indefinitely, they would meet rarer than running parallel. Read to the end of the instructions an you'll understand which way to cut it.
Anyways I cut the pointed parts off the top of the fence, but I left enough of the curves so people would know it was a fence. I feel like it gives it character.
That's pretty much all to this step, but I didn't cut at the 2x4. I cut close to the end cause you need fence beyond the 2x4 to drill holes for the bolts used to connect the panels.
Step 5: Cut Plywood
The plywood board is what we use to connect the pieces but the 4ft pieces are too big. At this point I simply cut both pieces into 4.
The way I measured to find the middle was get a string, cut to the length of the board, fold in half, and mark. I don't like the math of a measuring tape and this works just as well.
Once you're done you'll have 8 roughly even pieces. They don't have to be straight cuts or very neat to work although a certain level of straightness is required.
Step 6: Trimming the Plywood
Chances are if you put the ends of two panes together right now and put a plywood board up against it, you'd have a big wing of board sticking off the back, and it would be substantially taller than the fencing.
To trim, I just approximated with a sharpie about where I needed to cut to decrease that much sticking out.
Put the pointed end up against a 2x4 end and place the plywood where it crosses that union and rests against the 2x4.
Run a sharpie down and cut off excess with saw.
Step 7: Drilling Holes and Applying Bolts
One the plywood is trimmed it should sit right up against that 2x4. Since every panel and plywood cut is different, make sure you keep the plywood pieces with the same panels you cut them for. I numbered them to match the numbers of the panels.
You can use any number of bolts you want, but the number of holes you still in this step will dictate that.
Hold the plywood behind the fencing wherever you're going to want it when it's attached. I held mine as far over as possible till it was touching the 2x4.
Once you have that drill holes through the pickets and the plywood for the bolts to go through. In the picture I drilled to the right of the 2x4 that's on the back so that I went through the plywood. The holes I drilled were thought the top, bottom, and middle picket to spread out any force put in it. Once again you can still more holes if you'd like.
After that I just put the bolts in with the head on the Pickett side and threw on a washer and nut.
This will attach the plywood to the detachable side, but it gets it lined up nicely to attach it to the permanent side.
Step 8: Attaching the Plywood Permanently
Line up 2 of the panels to get all the angles and everything to fit. If they line up well, the two panels should stand fairly easily by themselves. I didn't have an extra set of hands so I was leaning both of them against my truck.
Once you have them together, grab the panel with the plywood and bolt and slide it straight back so the only thing you would have to do to align them would be slide that panel back forward.
Apply a thin brad of gorilla glue to the 45 degree angle of the panel with the 2x4 cut in to. Gorilla glue is super strong and expands like worse than a marshmallow in the microwave so you don't need much. Plus we're going to use the nails to press the boards together in a bit.
Slide the plywood panel forward realigning the two pieces and get the plywood as close to the other panel and aligned as possible.
With that in place, hammer some nails through the plywood into the 2x4. I put 5 in running down it. These nails are t designed to be strong, they just hold the plywood against the 2x4 while the gorilla glue sets to allow the glue to hold it in place.
Once finished and for storage, make sure you stack them like this to. If the plywood joints are face down, all that weight will be in the flimsy plywood and it will probably break.
Step 9: Some Assembly Required
From here you should be able to take the bolts in and out an detach and reattach the panels without anything falling apart. There's one more thing I'll add in another step.
No one can put the pieces at the right angle right when they put them together. I tried attaching one panel after another and all 8 didn't line up. I had to take 4 attached panels and move them out to fit the other 4. I think it unnecessarily stressed the plywood joints as they're thin enough already.
To prevent this I would suggest laying all the panels on the ground in an octagon and getting the shape before you raise them up to attach them.
Step 10: Too Tall
After we finished we realized it was pretty awesome. But it's designed for kids mostly and it was tall to me. So we added a V cut to two panels on opposing sides.
We measured 3 pickets down and just cut across the 2x4 in the back. Then we picked a spot equal distance on both sides and measures from the point to the top corner on both sides and made the cut.
When we did this thinking it would be all hunky-dory, we didn't realize that by taking out that 2x4, those too three boards didn't have anything to hang on to in the middle. And since they were ends now, they just kinda flopped around on that one 2x4 they were still attached to.
To combat this we took some of that scrap plywood from trimming the boards earlier and nailed it across all three and the fourth one with more glue underneath. It made the entrance very sturdy.
From here you're done. Just make sure to check for nails sticking out along the inside before you play. Also we're going to add a bead of gorilla glue down both sides of every 2x4 in the back. This'll help those old nails hold the pickets better and give it more structure.
Let me know if you have any questions and I'll change it to clear up the confusion. Y'all enjoy.
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