Intro: Bounce Free Cornhole Boards
After building a few different cornhole board sets using various different designs, and even trying a store bought set, I realized that none of the sets were really satisfying my cornholing needs. Therefore, the goal of this set was to improve on all the previous sets and create a pair of boards that were much lighter and more aesthetically pleasing than the others while still maintaining their bounce-less quality and durability. The original plans for my set came from the Advanced Bouncless Folding-Leg Box Frame Style directions found on www.cornholegameplayers.com. However, even these plans, which I've tried word for word in the past, ended up producing boards that were extremely heavy and ugly, therefore I've altered them and thus present you this modified guide.
The game of Cornhole is a backyard game or tailgating game that is very similar in nature to Horseshoes. While much of the history of the game is under dispute as to its original origins, no one will deny the fact that the game first gained popularity in the midwest and has no spread to just about all states nationwide and all college campuses. The rules of the game are extremely simply, a player gets one point for landing a bag on the board, and three points for landing it in the hole. Game points are awarded as the difference of the points for the round and the game is over after a team reaches 21 game points. More in depth rules of the game can be found here.
(4) 8' length 3/4" x 2 1/2" Birch*
(2) 2' x 4' sheets of 3/4" Birch plywood**
(4) 4" long 3/8" Carriage Bolts
(8) 3/8" Washers
(4) 3/8" Wing Nuts
(56) 2" Deck Screws, or Finishing Nails***
-Drill Bits (Philips, pilot, 3/8")
-Sander or Sand Paper
*I chose to use smaller amounts of wood on the frame for weight reasons, while hopefully still maintaining the board's bounce free quality.
**I also used Birch wood since it has a nice grain and I knew I wanted to stain the finished product, feel free to use whatever kind of 3/4" thick wood suites your individual project needs.
***While many people use deck screws, I chose to use finishing nails and an air-powered nail gun for aesthetics.
Step 1 - Preparing the lumber
Step 2 - Constructing the boards
Step 3 - Cutting the holes
Step 4 - Constructing the legs
Step 5 - Attaching the legs
Step 6 - Adding the cross beam
Step 1: Preparing the Lumber
--Step 1: Preparing the Lumber--
First we will begin by laying out and cutting all the lumber, when all this is said and done, you will be left with (4) long frame sides, (4) short frame sides, (4) legs, and (2) cross beams.
For the first two beams, we will cut out two long sides and all four short sies. Begin by marking cross lines on the wood at 48" and 72" from the end. Do this for both beams and then cut on the lines. This will give us two 48" long sides and all four 24" short sides.
For the second two beams, make marks at 12", 24", 72", and 94.5" from one end. After marking these on both beams, cut on the marks. The two 12" pieces will serve as the legs, the 48" pieces will be the second set of long sides, and the 22.5" pieces will serve as the cross beams.
Now that all the pieces are cut out, we will prepare the corners so they create flush, "picture frame" like corners. On both ends of all the short sides (24" pieces) and long sides (48" pieces) cut a 45 degree angle to the inside from the outside corner (see the diagram).
Step 2: Constructing the Boards
--Step 2: Constructing the Boards--
Second, we will construct the box, beginning with the frames. Begin by laying out all the short sides (24" pieces) and long sides (48" pieces), all the corners should line up nicely. After you feel comfortably with your mock up frame, begin to wood glue each seam and then put a finishing nail in from the outside ends. Repeat this for all four corners of each box, for a total of eight corners when completed.
Once the frame is completed, line up the front facing board (24" x 48" piece) on top of the fram to complete the box. Make sure the box lines up well, although in some spots it will be alright if you plan on sanding your completed boxes. Once you feel fine with the location of the board, pick it up and line all the seams with wood glue. Carefully put the board back down and line it up again. Following this, put finishing nails every 6" around the edge of the board into the frame.
Let the completed boxes dry, once they are dry, move to step three.
Step 3: Cutting the Holes
--Step 3: Cutting the Holes--
There are two ways to cut the holes in the boards, the easier way, is to simply use a 6" Hole Saw to cut the hole, however, if you dont have one you can first draw the circle on and then cut it out using a pilot hole and a Jigsaw.
To do either, start by marking a centered spot, 9 inches from the top edge of each board. If you are fortunate enough to have the 6" Hole Saw, simply cut the hole at this point. If not, use a compass to make a 3" radius circle around the mark.
Once your circle is drawn on both boards, use a power drill to drill a pilot hole somewhere in the circle touching the inside of the drawn line. This pilot hole will allow us to then use the Jigsaw to cut on the line and cut out our circles. Be careful to go slowly, this process an be difficult if rushed through.
Finally, once both your holes are cut. Use wood filler on any unwanted holes in the boards and all the screw tops that are showing. After the wood filler has dried, sand the boards to your desired amount using an electric sander or sand paper. The more you sand the boards, the better they will feel and look. It will also get rid of any potentially dangerous, sharp edges.
Step 4: Constructing the Legs
--Step 4: Constructing the Legs--
Begin by gathering the 12" leg pieces you cut in step one. In step 4, we will first need to round the connecting ends of the legs and then we will have to cut and angle for the foot of the legs.
Start by drawing a centered mark 1.5" from the end of each leg. Once this is done, use the power drill with a 3/8" drill bit to drill a hole on each mark, this will be used for connecting the legs.
Next, cut two opposing 45 degree miters between the hole and the end of the leg, as shown in the diagram. Sand these edges until the end becomes circle, the more you sand, the better it will function and look.
Finally, to create the foot of each leg, we must cut a 27 degree angle from the outside corner to the inside of the foot. Make sure the direction is the same for all the feet to ensure that the feet sit properly together.
Step 5: Attaching the Legs
--Step 5: Attaching the Legs--
Now that the boards are all sanded and the legs are complete, its time to add the legs to the boards. First we must drill the connecting holes in the boards for the legs, and then bolt the legs to the board.
Start by flipping the boards upside down so that the open side is facing up. Measure and mark a centered dot 3 9/16" from the top of the boards on each side. Drill this hole with a power drill and 3/8" drill bit.
Once all your holes are drilled and completed, put a carriage bolt in each hole from the outside. On the inside of the boards, first put a washer on each carriage bolt, followed by a leg, then another washer, and finally a wing nut.
Tighten the wing nuts to a good tension that keeps the legs in place but does not make them too hard to move in and out.
Step 6: Adding the Cross Beam
--Step 6: Adding the Cross Beam--
At this point, you boards are completely assembled and playable. However, in this step I add a cross beam for more strength and to decrease the odds of bags bouncing on the boards. If you choose to do this, start by gathering the two 22.5" pieces you cut in step one, these will serve as the cross beams.
Measure and mark 24" down on the inside of each board and then draw a line cutting the board across the middle. Once this is completed, line this mark with wood glue and then place the cross beam in place. Use finishing nails from the outside of the board into the cross beam to add increased support to the cross beam.
After this dries your set of cornhole boards is completely finished and is ready for the sanding of your choosing and the finish of your choice. Enjoy!
Step 7: Conclusion
Successes & Failures
Overall, the project fulfilled most of my prior expectations. The boards ended up being relatively light, much lighter than prior sets I've constructed, while maintaining the durability needed to handle day to day use. The use of Birch wood and finishing nails, in addition to wood filler and lengthy sanding, resulted in the boards looking much better than any boards I've created in the past as well. Despite using less wood for the frame of the boards, the boards still maintained the bounce-less property they had before when using heavier wood. The only failure I ended up having, was that my legs are not lined up nearly as perfect as I had hoped they would be. In order for the board to sit on the ground perfect, the legs must be moved around and tweeked. Hopefully in the future I can find a way to add them more accurately.
Questions & Observations
While the boards are definitely lighter than the old sets I've made, I would guess almost 30-50% lighter, I'm still eager to find ways to make them even lighter for ease of carrying. I wonder if using a different frame system, rather than just a box with a cross beam, under the playing board could result in increased strength with less materials, thus allowing for lighter boards with no bounce? Also, I've noticed that I must make the legs sturdier, I feel as if they are definitely the weakest link in the whole set.
Since originally creating these boards, I've added an industrial strength handle on the side of each board for ease of carrying. This was an easy addition that simply required screwing them onto the side that has yielded huge benefits. The handles have made the boards much less awkward to carry and, coupled with their light weight, has made them easy to transport. In the future, I think I may add a cross beam, much like the one in the center of the boards, to the legs. This addition should cause the legs to be much sturdier and hopefully more durable and stable.
In conclusion, the project was a complete success. The boards fulfill all my needs and should serve as a great source of fun for a long time to come. This all just goes to show that instead of simply buying a set of cornhole boards, which is more expensive, it is much more enjoyable and beneficial to create your own. In the long run, the legs proved to be the most difficult part of the process and also ended up being the biggest flaw. If anyone has any recommandations or good ideas for a better set of legs, please message me and let me know. Hope everyone has fun creating and painting their own cornhole boards, cheers!
I, in no way, take any credit for any of the diagrams added that came from the "Advanced Bouncless Folding-Leg Box Frame Style" directions found on www.cornholegameplayers.com. These were simply added because they serve as great references when building.