Giant "wooden Block Stacking Game" Tower




A few months ago I wanted to make an original present for my dad's birthday. I started looking on the internet but nothing seemed to be the kind of thing that I was looking for....  Then the idea struck me. Why not make my own "wooden block stacking " game? Just a little bigger and  suitable for playing outdoors. I had seen it at a friends garden party but when I looked it up afterwards it was quite expensive. So why not make it myself?!

Step 1: How to Make a "wooden Block Stacking Game"

On Wikipedia it says:

"...... is played with 54 wooden blocks. Each block is three times as long as it is wide, and one fifth as thick as it is long (1.5 x 2.5 x 7.5 cm). To set up the game, the included loading tray is used to stack the initial tower which has 18 levels of three blocks placed adjacent to each other along their long side and perpendicular to the previous level (so, for example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second level blocks will lie east-west)"

* Wooden beams, I used 4 beams of 4m
                                                         (13 feet and 1.48 inches)  
*Measuring tools
*hand / table saw
*Sanding paper

                   (8.27 inches)    (2.64 inches)      (1.65 inches)                                                                              
My blocks are 21cm long, 6.7cm wide and 4.2cm high. I know the 1 to 3 ratio is not applied but I just took some wooden beams that were available at the store and then kind of tried to fit all the pieces in the length of the beams.

When you have all the materials you can start measuring and marking where you are going to saw.
After you have done that you can start to saw!! As finishing touch you can sand down the edges for a smooth look.
Cost : Wooden beams  +/- 25eur , Box 10eur 
                                      (36 dollars)        (14 dollars)                                    
Some math:
Y= Length 
X= Width
h= Height
Z= number of blocks

X= Y/3
Total height = Z/3 * h

Step 2: Play & Store

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4 People Made This Project!


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58 Discussions


3 years ago

I haven't begun the project yet, my brother and I will be making 3 set for his son, my son and daughter, and of course a set for anyone who comes to the grandparents house to play. One thing I think we will try is to do all the sanding prior to cutting, then only edges are left to do piece by piece. Hopefully this will speed up time for only having to handle long boards instead of each block individually. I will try to post the results after. If anyone else tries this first, please let me know if it turns out badly and I won't bother. Thanks again for original post.

On a side note if it turns out well, my brother has said he may use some of his nicer boards and we can stain them different shades for aesthetics as he is quite the woodworker. (makes beautiful cutting boards already).

Thanks again, ALL!!


8 years ago on Introduction

Hey, thanks for posting this up. Looking this all over this seems very simple, and it is. All you really need to know if in usa and using regular 2x4 wall studs. cut 54 of those suckers at 10.5 inches and you are good to go! THAT being said, I spent less than an hour cutting and a good 12-15 hours finishing. They came out beautiful and are smooth like glass for easy play and good protection. Here is what I learned along the way:

1. Wood selection: Straight isn't that big of a deal... a little bend in an 8' board isn't noticeable when you cut it into 10" chunks. Look for wood that has square edges and minimal or only small knots. Sometimes you get a little colored sap wood and that looks good after finishing. With "spf" 2x4's these blocks are heavy enough, so I would not recommend a hardwood for safety and convenience reasons. If you could find an "s4s"(sanded 4 sides) pine 2x4 that would help with finishing work but it is not likely you will. Select 2x4's are likely only straighter with less knots and select doesn't imply a finish sanded product. I like that my peices had a little character and I had to chuck a couple where the knots were to extreem. You can do it with 7 @ 8' 2x4's but you should get 8 so that you can pick the best pieces.

2. Cutting: Make a jig for your saw. Something that you can but the uncut wood up to so that you cut exactly the same size piece each time. For me this was simply a block of wood screwed to a 1x2 and clamped to my mitre saw. Different jigs for different saws, but I'm sure you get the point.

3. Sanding: I started using 80 grit on a palm sander to knock down all the larger imperfections. There are lots of them too! It took a very long time and I rounded over all the edges. A router would be overkill if you are sanding anyways since it is so easy to cut through pine with sandpaper.. A bench mounted belt sander would have cut a good couple hours off this step but there is still some handwork regardless..

After the 80 on the palm sander I went to 220 grit on a rubber sanding block. Don't forget the end grain! Even if you can't nock it down to perfectly smooth it is still important to open the fibers so the finish penetrates. This went much faster and brought each piece up to glass like smoothness. All and all I spend a good 10-12 hours sanding... I kid you not, and I was busing my hump!

3. Finishing: I used a past finishing wax. I used the Minwax brand that you can get at any hardware or home improvement store. It is a wax in mineral spirits so that it can penetrate the wood fibers a bit. T apply, it is just like waxing your car. Wipe down each piece to get all the dust off, apply a thin layer, let it dry for 30 minutes or so, and then buff it to a shine. They look beautiful with a nice satiny finish, and they have perfect tension during play. They should last a long time too because the wax wont chip or flake off as they get nicked up during use and they are waterproofed short of an extended float in the pool. The wax is also a time release of sorts for letting wood acclimate itself to changes in humidity and will be less likely to warp over time. Yeah, I like wax!

9 replies

Reply 3 years ago

I know it is 3 years later, but thanks for the tip about the paste wax. I was conerned about the ability of the pieces to slide even with very smooth sanding. The wax finish just removed enough friction that everything works miles better. Lot more work to this then I thought when I started, but it looks great. Hopefully my daughter likes it.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

You wouldn't have to have a picture of you jig would you. I haven't made any jigs yet.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I would think 2x2s would work better, for something scaled down a bit from this. I want to make one with 6x6's XD


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

2x2's and 6x6's are not the proper dimensions but to make the game work you could use whatever as long as the length = 3x width of the pieces so they stack properly. The ratio of dimensions of the original game is not the same as a 2x4 either, but I don't think square stock is a good choice.. Closest to the original is probably a 2x3 if you can find them.

As for 6x6 that is not smart. During play, these come crashing down and even the 2x4's could easily take out an ankle. Also the height of the 2x4 game during play is quite tall. I think the record on my fiends game is about 32 levels and that is over your head when stacking the game only a foot or two off the ground.

As another side note, don't play this on a wooden picnic table or wooden bench because the tower coming down will dent the hell out of your furniture. We have been using a 12x12 concrete landscaping stone on top of a 5 gallon bucket and that works pretty well. Just level out the bucket Concrete floor works well too but it is best to not have to squat down for the lowest pieces.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

This is a great project. Thanks to everyone in the comments who has
added their own experience as well. Mmmatt, you mentioned that you would
have found this easier with a stationary belt sander. For the reference
of future builders (and with apologies for plugging my own
Instructable), here's a jig that I built to use my handheld belt sander
as a stationary tool:


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

with the directions you posted about .. is the game as big as the ong in the orginal pictures of this post?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

yup. US dimensional lumber is only slightly different than the euro stuff. If you have seen a giant jenga I can almost promise that it was made from SPF 2x4 lumber.

As a side note, the wax finish works awesome. Also the weight of the falling blocks is enough to damage a wooden picnic table or a persons foot so use with care.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Jep it is as big as shown on the picture! And like mmmatt says: be careful where you play it and with who you play it :)


3 years ago on Introduction

I plan to use 2x4s as they're cheap. I've got a bandsaw to cut them up cleanly.. Will have to make a stencil to paint on Jenga or call it something else that is not copyrighted. For a classy look they could be stained. Also could use 1x4s but would be more expensive. Any height of the stack will work.


4 years ago

Can someone please help me with this?
I want to make this game out of 1×2's instead of 2×4.
How big would I make the pieces? And how many would I need?

2 replies

A 1x2 is actually 0.75 in x 1.5 in.

Using the width of 1.5 multiplied by 3, your pieces should be 4.5 inches long. The thickness will be a tad off, but this should be close.

If you want to get all dimensions to the right ratios, then start with the thickness and multiply by 5, then make your pieces 3.75 inches long. Using a table saw you can easily trim the width of your pieces to be 1.25 inches each (3.75 divided by 3).


Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

Sorry, forgot the totals.

@ 4.5 in each you would need at least 23 feet (allowing 10% waste for saw kerfs and leftover ends), convenient since it is usually sold in 8 foot lengths. 3 @ 8 foot should work.

@ 3.75 in each you would need at least 19 feet (same allowance) which still means buying 3 1x2s @ 8 foot each unless you can find scraps. If you are using scraps allow for more waste sections. If you have left over 1x2 you will find a use for it. 1x2 is never sitting around for long...


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

I purchased some alder wood from Ganahl lumber. I felt that the standard 2 x 4 or 2x3 from lowes or home depot was too rough for my tastes and would not be as smooth or free of imperfections as i desired. I had Ganahl rip my boards to approximate 2 x3's. I then set a stop on my miter saw and cut them all quickly. So far, i have sanded with 80 (power sander), 150 (power) and then 220 by hand. it looks awesome and all my neighbors want one. I may add some more wood later, because i do not have all the required pieces (i have 44), so far. I will probably add a natural stain and protectant this week.

ummmmmmmm 527.JPG

8 years ago on Introduction

Here is mine!!!

Used a 2" x 4".
Just make sure and find straight ones.
Make sure they are dry...
I routed the edges too!

10 1/2" long
54 boards.

I made a stencil and painted the logo on.
Very fun to play...GREAT party game!