Introduction: Portable Cornhole Game
“Cornhole” or “Bags” is a very popular outdoor game. It is played all across the country at outdoor parties and pre-game sporting events where tailgating is a tradition.
There are many plans available on the internet and elsewhere that provide instructions on how to build the game boards. My emphasis with this Instructable will be to offer a construction plan where portability will be the main feature. I designed a back stand that can be folded down and locked in place for easy transport once a handle is placed on the side of the game board. Also, must plans call for the construction of the cornhole board to be fabricated from 2 x 4 inch common house wall framing stock. I prefer to make my cornhole game from 1 x 4 inch common pine boards. I use a cross member piece in the middle to add rigidity to the plywood playing surface. This game board design cuts down on a lot of weight by not using 2 x 4 inch wall framing boards.
Step 1: List of Materials
· (2) 2 ft. by 4 ft. x ½” plywood sheets
· (24 ft) of 1” x 4” x ¾” pine boards
· Misc. brad nails and 3” finishing nails
· (1) 2 ft. x 2 ft. x ¾” plywood
· (4) 2 ½” utility hinges
· (4) 2 ½” dead bolts
· (2) screen door handles
· Misc. paint and decals (your school/team logo design)
· Wood putty
Step 2: Basic Dimensions
The regulation size of the cornhole board is 24 inches wide by 48 inches long and fabricated from ½” thick plywood. The back edge of the board is raised to be 12 inches above the ground. The front of the board is angled down to be just 3 ½ to 4 inches above the ground. A 6” diameter hole is placed in the board for scoring. The center of the hole is measured 9 inches from the top edge and equal distance between the two sides.
Step 3: Game Board Construction
I would purchase a better grade of ½” thick plywood from your local lumber yard. Make sure it has a smooth surface free of any imperfections for your game board top. From this plywood, cut two pieces 24 inches wide x 48 inches long. Next you need to cut the scoring hole in each piece of plywood. This is best done with a 6 inch hole saw attached to your power drill. Measure 9 inches in from one of the short sides and then center that mark equal distance between the two long sides (12 inches). This is the center point for your 6 inch hole you are cutting. If you are going to use a jig saw to cut the hole, draw a 6 inch circle with a compass at this center point. Once the hole is cut on both boards, use sandpaper to smooth any rough edges of the hole.
Each game board was constructed separately. Start by cutting two pieces of the 1 x 4 inch common pine board to 48 inches in length. Place a bead of yellow wood glue along one edge and align each piece to the outside edge of the long sides of the plywood top. A air driven nail gun with 1 ¼” brads was used to secure the edge boards to the plywood game surface. Next, cut three pieces of the 1 x 4 inch common pine board to 22 ½ inches in length (24” – (2 x ¾”) to fit in-between the long boards. With the game board turned upside down on your work bench, again place a bead of yellow wood glue along one edge of two of these shorter pieces and align them to the outside edge of the shorter sides. Again, secure in place with the 1 ¼” brads. The last short piece is attached at the center point of the plywood top (24” from each short side) with wood glue and 1 ¼” brads, as before. This will be the needed bracing piece in the center of the plywood game top. Note, once the short pieces are set in their proper place, you cam clamp them in place to hold them steady so the plywood top can be turned right side up for nailing. Finally, all edge boards are secured firmly to each other by placing 3” long finishing nails or 3” long deck screws into the four corners and the two sides of the middle bracing piece.
Step 4: Back Stand Fabrication
The back folding stand is fabricated from ¾ inch thick plywood. This will give it a little more strength. I designed a master pattern for the stand from ¼” thick Masonite so I could trace it accurately and use it repeatedly. The pattern is then cut out on a band saw and hand sanded to smooth any rough edges. The stand is set aside for painting.
Step 5: Painting and Decals
First, all nail holes were filled in with wood putty. Once dried, I sanded all the wood surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper in a vibrating hand sander. Next, you can personalize your boards in any theme you want. People can be quite creative with this endeavor. Traditionally, one’s favorite sports team would be the inspiration for the design theme. This is especially true since many times these boards are transported to tailgate parties. You can either purchase paint (most team paint codes can be found online) and decals for your favorite team our purchase a cornhole adhesive wrap that covers the whole face of the board. The wraps add a little more cost to the project but the advantage is that no painting is involved. This is especially helpful for the non-artists among us.
I was making these boards for a colleague of mine and he wanted an Ohio State college theme design. So for these set of boards I choose the paint and decal option. Using painters tape and straight lines in my design I was able to come up with a pretty decent result. The apex of the strips ended at the target hole so one had something to aim toward. The two Ohio State decals were purchased from Amazon:
Once the design was done, I tried to waterproof everything as much as possible by applying two coats of polyacrylic sealer. This will not leave a yellow tint on the design like varnish or polyurethane will.
Step 6: Final Assembly
The key to my portability design was to attach a back stand that could be folded down for ease in transporting the bags playing board. Once everything has been painted and allowed to dry, the back stand can be attached. The below procedure is completed on each game board. You will need a total of (4) hinges and (4) deadbolts to attach both back stands.
First, the game board is turned upside down. Position the back stand at the end where the scoring hole has been cut about ½” in from the edge. Position a hinge about 2” in from the edge of the stand. Screw the first hinge into place using ¾” long screws for the stand and ½” long screws for the game board. Remember, the game board is made from ½” thick plywood so you don’t want the screws to penetrate the game surface by using to long of screw. Install the second hinge the same way on the opposite side of the stand. The back stand should swing freely down onto the bottom of the game board.
Now a standard 2 ½” or 2” dead bolt is used to hold the stand in place, underneath the game board, while it is being transported. The deadbolt is screwed into place at the bottom edge of the back stand. It can be screwed in on either side, it really doesn’t matter. It should be installed close to the edge so the barrel will touch the 1 x 4 inch pine frame. The receptacle for the dead bolt is not needed. Instead, a pencil outline is drawn where the deadbolt contacts the inside of the target board frame and then a hole is drilled to the depth of ½” to accept the deadbolt barrel. The hole should be drilled with the same diameter drill bit as the diameter of the dead bolt barrel. Now the deadbolt barrel will slide into this hole and hold the back stand firmly in place while the game board is stored and transported.
The second dead bolt needs to be installed to hold the back stand in place when it is deployed for use in a cornhole game. See the photos. A deadbolt is mounted in the middle of the back stand just above the back frame. The same procedure is followed as before. Again, the metal receptacle for the deadbolt is not needed and can be discarded. The deadbolt is screwed in place and then a pencil mark is drawn where the barrel contacts the frame edge. An appropriate diameter hole is then drilled to ½” depth to accept the barrel of the deadbolt. This deadbolt will hold the back stand firmly in place when the cornhole game is being played. It will prevent the back stand from collapsing from the weight and impact of the thrown bags.
The last hardware needed to make this game truly portable is a handle to help in carrying the game boards. I use a 4” screen door handle to accomplish this. The door handle is placed slightly offset from center on one of the long side frames of the game board closest to the back target hole. This allows one end of the handle to be screwed through the frame into the middle bracing frame for added holding strength. A 2” wood screw is used for this purpose. The other end is secured with a ¾” long screw.
Now the portable game board is complete and ready to be transported to any tailgate party. It can also be stored much easier.