How I built cornhole boards and stained them with unicorn spit. I’ve been meaning to build some yard games for family gatherings, parties and birthdays held at my place. My best friend’s husband was turning 40 in November and we threw him a surprise birthday party in October. Why a month before his birthday? Because this is Minnesota and we didn’t want to be outside standing in a foot of snow and freezing to death lol And I don’t have a house big enough to really accommodate 100 people!
(We purchased some very tongue in cheek and adult party decorations that made everyone laugh. The Happy F**ing Birthday banner I kept inside the garage so as not to offend the neighbors… I also purchased a whole bunch of abusive balloons etc. it was an adult good time lol) This was the perfect opportunity for me to stop procrastinating and get my boards built. I stopped at my local lumber yard and picked up three 2x4s and half a sheet of 1/2″ plywood. (Note on the plywood – the only important thing is that it is smooth on one side and I wouldn’t go beyond a 1/2″ thick as that’s plenty heavy.) I had them cut the half sheet in half so I ended up with two pieces at 24×48 inches which is standard board size.
Construction was as simple as it gets: Build a rectangle, screw the plywood down on top of it. I didn’t have a compass (yep that got added to my xmas wishlist) so I made a poor man’s compass with a string and a pen lol. The hole wasn’t perfect but I just needed a guide. I cut it out with my jigsaw.
Moving on to the feet. Regulation cornhole boards are 12 inches tall at the tallest point at the back of the board. I used scrap lumber to prop it up and then just added the feet which were 2x4s cut at around 9 inches.
I filled my screw holes on the top of the board with wood putty. When it was dry I thoroughly sanded both boards down with medium grit and then fine grit sand paper using my orbital palm sander.
My basement was really chilly and, with my using polyurethane, I knew I had to put them in a warm place or they would take forever to dry. (99% of the time I would have used poly acrylic – I didn’t even have polyurethane on hand. But Unicorn Spit requires it be topped with an oil based sealant to really pop. On top of that I knew these boards would be spending a lot of time outside so I wanted to protect them really well.)
Step 1: Trying Out Unicorn Spit for the First Time!
So, yeah, I moved my island to the side of the room and plopped my boards in the middle of my kitchen.
As soon as I made the plan to do this I got excited because I could have some fun with them! I had never tried unicorn spit before so I went on Amazon and purchased three different colors. Pixie Punk Pink, Dragon’s Belly and Blue Thunder. Most sets of boards I’ve played on in the past had some kind of triangle on them generally with paint. I taped off my triangle and scored down both sides of it.
(Actually my best friend Rachie scored down both sides of it because she came over to give me a hand and her nails are way prettier than mine for pictures.) I had her score them REALLY deep. I knew there was no way to truly stop the stain from bleeding entirely but I knew this would help.
Then it was time to jump into the Unicorn Spit universe! I made the wood damp first by lightly spraying it with water and then I did one color at a time. I added them in lines and then blended. Added and then blended. Added and then blended etc. The pink I added over top more than once to really make it POP.
Step 2: Staining and Completion - Let's Play!
From there I stained the rest of the boards in dark walnut by minwax and started applying my poly.
I knew I wanted several coats so I started in on these boards a week before his party. And its a good thing I did because they took FOREVER to dry. (Our fall weather this year meant high humidity and hard core cold and DAMP even with my pellet stove running right beside them.)
Somewhere along the line I decided to define my tape lines a bit more by adding in black rustoleum paint. The score REALLY helped me make a clean line. In my head I had planned on leaving it stained like it was with the score lines being subtle but for goodness sakes I was using Unicorn Spit! Not sure how that’s subtle lol. I think adding the black to make the lines darker was a good choice.
All in I had five coats of poly.
My experience with Unicorn spit was a good one though I would certainly do some things different if I ever use it again. I really didn’t like making my board damp first – it felt weird and messy. I had flash backs to being five years old and finger painting in kindergarten. I’m used to working with oil based stains and this was more like working with a chalkboard paint.
In the future I would probably water the unicorn spit itself down and use it more like a stain and not a paint at all. I would have liked to see more of the wood grain come through even though I am happy with how it turned out.
Another thought: I had someone try to convince me to use 2x2s for the construction so the boards wouldn’t be so heavy. But with 2x2s pension for splitting and warping… NO. I wanted these boards to last and building them heavy duty was absolutely my goal from the beginning. However, if you are looking for a lighter board 2x2s are an option.
Another note: DON’T DO THIS IN YOUR KITCHEN LIKE I DID!!!! Do this in a well ventilated area! Outside would be preferable!