GAME RULES :
Known as Four in a Row, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four, Four in a Line, Drop Four, or Connect Four …
It is a two-player connection game in which the players first choose a color and then take turns dropping one colored disc from the top into a seven-column, and five-or-six-row vertically suspended grid.
The pieces fall straight down, occupying the lowest available space within the column.
The objective of the game is to be the first to form a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of four of one's own discs.
THE START :
Building a Connect-4 game is quick, easy, and fun … the Disc size determines the physical game size.
Disc ordering source : ZLazr.com, Houston, Tx – 832-798-3000 … 1/16” to 3/8“ thick and up to 12” diameter in colors
Here is demonstrated how I built a mid-size game, starting with 3+½“ discs, 5-rows and 7-columns. This called for dimensions of 40”w x 43”h. (This will help You make any size game depending on the size discs you select).
It is structured into 4 parts, as follows :
The DISC PANELS :
The trick is to have all the holes (ex: 3”) in the Disc Panels smaller than the Discs themselves (ex: 3+½“), and to insert Spacers (ex: your choice of width, here it is 1” wide) just a little thicker (ex: ⅜”) than the thickness of the Discs (ex: ¼“) …
this allows the Discs to slide between the front and back Disc Panels with a little wiggle room …
side-to-side and still covering the drilled-out holes, as well as front-to-back without sliding behind another disc.
Special Note : Alignment of all the holes between the front and back Disc Panels is crucial …
make sure they are aligned correctly … make sure you do not flip one Disc Panel the wrong way and misalign the holes between the 2 Disc Panels when connecting them later on (in the gluing stage).
The FRAME :
The Frame is a matter of choice, and is designed to hold the Disc Panels high enough from the ground, and sturdy enough to prevent the entire game from falling over.
The DISC CATCH-N-RELEASE CONTROL BAR :
Some type of barrier at the bottom of the Disc Panels is required to prevent the Discs from falling straight thru the Disc Panels onto the floor when the game is played.
Usually a board on hinges and a latch is used …
Here a unique ‘slide bar’ design was used here … instructions are presented below on how to easily build it.
The DISC CATCHER :
A box should be included a reasonable distance below the bottom of the Disc Panels and above the floor, to prevent the Discs from landing on the floor and running all over the place.
Presented below is how I made my 4-in-a-row game … use it as a rough guide on how to build your own …
THE MATERIALS :
The materials needed for this particular project were as follows :
(1) ½” x 4’ x 8’ Birch, Maple or Oak plywood is preferred, but sanded Pine is acceptable
(8) Wood Spacers : 20” long x 1” wide x ⅜” thick
(20) ¼” x 3+½” plastic discs (Black)
(20) ¼” x 3+½” plastic discs (White)
(1) Drawer Knob
(1) Kid’s Rubber Mat
(1) 1 lb. box 3” Wood Screws
(1) 1 lb. cox 2+ ½” Wood Screws
(1) Tube Wood Glue
(7) Pints of different color paints (semi-gloss)
TOOLS NEEDED :
Drill Bits : miscellaneous sizes
Hole Saw : 3” diameter
Ruler : tape measure
Ruler : Straight Edge
Ruler : Square
Paint Brush : 2”
Paint Brush : small
Paint Brush : very small
Sander --- (with 80, then 120 grit sandpaper)
Table Saw or Circular Saw
Step 1: MAKING THE DISC PANELS :
Material Dimensions :
40 Plastic Discs : 20 Black & 20 White ... 3+½“ diameter x ¼” thick ... ZLazr.com has them. Call for help.
2 Disc Panels, each : 36” wide x 20” tall x ½” thick ... Use a hardwood plywood … birch, maple, oak, etc.
8 Wood Spacers : 20” long x 1” wide x ⅜” thick ... Inserted between the 2 Disc Panels, this puts a ⅜” gap
between the Panels which allows the ¼” thick Discs to slide.
1 Hole Saw : 3” diameter
START THE CONSTRUCTION :
Ordered 40 Plastic Discs, 20 each of 2 colors of choice and size. (my Discs were 3+½”)
Rough-Cut 2 plywood Disc Panels (birch, maple, oak, pine, etc.) and 8 Wood Spacers.
Disc (3+½”) and Spacer (1”) size dictates the rough Panel size. (36” wide x 17+½” + 2+½” extra high )
Cut a 45° bevel on top of each Panel on what will be the Interior top side of each panel.
OUTLINE THE COLUMN WIDTH :
Place 1st Disc Panel with exterior side facing you (i.e. the 45° bevel facing away from you) …
(hole saws make finer cuts on any top surface like what will be the exposed face of the Disc Panels) ...
Using a wood Spacer (ex: 20” long x 1” wide), lightly draw 8 sets of lines to indicate the 7 separate columns of Discs … allow approx. 1/8” wiggle room on each side of the Discs in each column to facilitate their sliding between the wood Spacers, yet still fully covering the holes to be drilled.
(from left to right, this measured 4+3/4” from the left side of each Spacer to the left side of the next)
Total Measurement : 7 columns x 4+3/4” = 33+¼“ … + 1” for the last end spacer = 34+¼”
(the approx. excess of 1+3/4”can be trimmed off the 36” wide Panel when later measuring exactly).
OUTLINE THE DISCS :
Place all the Discs in each column on the exterior face of the 1st Disc Panel … with each starting disc touching the very bottom of the Panel … go 5 or 6 high (usual is 6 high … I chose 5), with each Disc touching the one below it … (ex: 5 high and 7 wide)
Outline all the Discs, making sure that there is 1/8” total wiggle room between the Spacers.
OUTLINE THE HOLES :
Take the Hole Saw, and using a scrap piece of wood, cut one hole (I used a 3” hole saw) …
Retrieve the wood circle from the hole saw … this will be your Hole Template.
Use this Hole Template to outline a circle (indicating the circumference of the Hole Saw) inside the larger Disc circles of each of the Discs just outlined on the Disc Panel … making sure the Hole Template is centered each time …AND mark the center hole portion of the Hole Template
(this is hole cut out by the guide bit of the hole saw).
What you should now see in each of the larger outlined Disc circles in each vertical column, is that all the smaller outlined circles of the Hole Template should be centered and approx. ½” away from each other, thus allowing a small portion of the Discs to be hidden when dropped into the game. (See the 1st picture below …)
CUT THE DISC PANELS :
Preferably using a drill press (a hand drill is possible, but difficult because of the torque exerted by the drill), for each circle in this 1st Disc Panel, line up the guide bit of the hole saw with the center point you drew with the Hole Template, assuring the hole saw itself is also lined up with the Hole Template circles you drew … and cut all the outlined holes in the Disc Panel.
Place the 2nd blank Disc Panel (exterior side up, facing you) under the exterior face of the 1st Disc Panel (i.e. both exterior sides facing each other --- this assures all the holes in both exterior panels will align correctly) … square the 2 pieces … use a pencil to outline the cut circles of the 1st Disc Panel onto the 2nd Disc Panel … insert the Hole Template into each hole on the 1st Disc Panel, and use a pencil to mark the center guide bit hole onto the 2nd Disc Panel. Set the 1st Disc Panel aside.
On the 2nd Disc Panel, outline the Spacers again, assuring the appropriate wiggle room between Spacers … outline all the Discs onto the 2nd Disc Panel to see if everything looks centered and especially that the Hole Template holes are centered in the Disc circles.
If so, cut the 2nd set of 35 holes.
ASSEMBLING THE DISC PANELS :
Tentatively place the 1st Disc Panel on top of the 2nd Disc Panel … interior sides touching … and make sure all the holes line up.
If they do, glue all the Spacers onto what will be the interior of the rear Disc Panel … slide a Disc between the spacers to assure that there is enough wiggle room for the discs to slide.
After drying, put glue on the exposed face of the Spacers, then put the front Disc Panel on (after making sure you are using the correct side … the holes MUST line up correctly).
Hard part is now done !
Building the Disc Panels starts with outlining 1) the
Discs, 2) the Spacers with the appropriate wiggle room, 3) the Hole Template onto each of the Disc circles along with the hole saw guide bit center indicated … BEFORE you drill out all the holes.
After cutting all the holes in both Disc Panels,
gluing the Spacers onto the 1st Disc Panel, then gluing the 2nd Disc Panel … then trimming the 36” panel width to 34&1/4” (after assuring that this is the dimension I would end up with after inserting all the spacers), the unit at this point should look like this.
PS: I nailed 1&¼” nails in the rear panel
thru the Spacers for rigidity. I put a border around both sides of the unit just for appearances.
I had cut a 45° angle on the top of both Disc Panels
(before I glued them) as well as my cosmetic trim, to allow for ease of inserting the discs when playing the game.
I had also cur a 45° angles on the top of each of
the spacers before I glued them to also allow for the ease of inserting the discs when playing the game.
Note the ¼” disc being inserted into the ⅜”
gap provided by the ⅜” Spacers between the 2 Hole Panels … this provides a ⅛” wiggle room between the 2 panels, just the right depth so that the discs can slide between its column’s 2 spacers, assisted also by the similar ⅛” wiggle room allowed between the Spacers.
The 3+ ½ “ discs I chose : Black & White
Step 8: BUILDING THE FRAME :
This is personal preference …
Clamp 2 side boards onto Disc Panels and screw them in place using 2” screws.
Then screw a floor board into the 2 side boards.
Note : 2 more support boards were also put under the hole panels, both for cosmetic purposes and use to be explained later.
MATERIAL DIMENSIONS :
Side Boards : 34” long x 3” wide x 1+½ ” Thick
Support Boards : 18” long x 2+½” wide x 1” thick
Floor Board : 40” long x 2+½” wide x 1+½” thick
Two bottom feet are then screwed (3” screws) into the bottom
frame board. This will keep the game from falling over.
MATERIAL DIMENSIONS :
Feet : 22” long x 2+½” wide x 1” thick
Side braces were then fitted to the Feet and the Frame to
assure its rigidity and aesthetic beauty.
MATERIAL DIMENSIONS :
Brace Boards : 18” long x 2+½” wide x 1” thick
Step 11: BUILDING THE DISC CATCH-N-RELEASE CONTROL BAR :
Next, a way of catching and then releasing the discs
between games was needed.
A disc release board was added which sits on top of the 2 cosmetic bottom frame Support Boards … a release board a little shorter than the width of the Disc Panels (32” long x 1” thick x 2&½” wide)
The 2 cosmetic bottom frame Support Boards were reduced by 1+ 1/16” in height to allow the disc release board to sit on top, and touching the bottom of the Disc Panels … the extra 1/16” gap allows the release board to slide.
A ceramic knob was added as a pull handle.
A stopper was added on both sides to stop the
Catch-N-Release Control Bar release board from sliding all the way out of the frame.
Note the stopped was extended out by a 2x4 milled to 2+½” wide x 1&½ ” deep to enable the Catch-N-Release Control Bar to clear the Disc Panels and allow the Discs to drop out of the Disc Panels.
Note how the
Catch-N-Release Control Bar now slides out and stops … it does not pull out of the frame.
Control Bar holders were later added when it was discovered that when the discs were dropped into their slots when playing the game, their dropping and pounding caused the Catch-N-Release Control Bar to start ‘walking’ forwards, causing an uncontrolled release of the Discs from the Disc Panels … this little lever when tilted closed will hold the Control Bar in place, and when tilted open (upright) allows the Control Bar to be slid forward to release the Discs.
A stopper was added on the back of the Disc Panels
to stop the Catch-N-Release Control Bar from sliding backwards out of the frame.
Step 16: BUILDING THE DISC CATCHER :
A Disc Catcher box was added to catch the discs when
the Catch-N-Release Control Bar is opened to clear the Discs from the Disc Panels for the next game … this prevents the discs from crashing to the floor and running all over the place.
Kids foam panels were inserted to reduce the noise level when all the discs fall into the box.
Step 17: THE FINISHED PRODUCT :
The finished product … before painting.