A co-worker’s cousin is about to open a cidery in Charlotte, NC called Red Clay Ciderworks. For a grand opening present, we wanted to make them a cornhole set to be used at their location while enjoying their delicious hard cider.
Cornhole, also referred to as Bean Bag Toss, is a game that originated in the Midwest and has increased in popularity across the US in bars, college campuses and homes. It goes well with tailgating, beer, BBQs and backyards.
Step 1: Video of Laser Engraving
Step 2: Materials
2 - 24" x 48" sections of 1/2" plywood;
4 - 2x4 x 48" for the frame;
4 - 2x4 x 21" for the frame
4 - 2x4 x 11-1/2" for the legs
4 – Carriage Bolts
4 – washers
4 – wing nuts
High gloss varnish, both spray and brush on
Trotec SP500 Laser Engraver (or one that fits board size), jigsaw, screwdriver, drill
Step 3: Laser Engraving and Cutting the Boards
The American Cornhole Association requires platforms be a 48" x 24" rectangle made from 1/2-inch plywood. The front of the platform stands 2-1/2 to 4 inches tall and the back of the platform sits 12 inches off the ground.
Using a large format laser cutter, here we used a Trotec SP500, set one of the pieces of plywood in the laser. We had to place ours sideways, since we wanted to both cut and engrave at the same time. You can also use a smaller laser with a pass through and cut the plywood down to size with a saw. Most home improvement stores will do this for a small fee.
We masked the entire area with Application Tape. Masking tape also does the trick. This is because we wanted a deep engraving, but a clean finished area since we were not painting the wood. When working with deep engraving into wood, you will get a lot of smoke and dust particles dirtying up the surrounding area. With unfinished wood, it is easier to mask off the area than to clean it afterward, pre-finished wood you can easily wipe off with a damp cloth.
The attached file has the outside and hole cut lines in place, but is blank in the middle for you to place your own drawing for engraving there.
Trotec SP500 200 watt
Cut: Power – 100, Speed - .50, Frequency - 1000
Engrave: Power – 70, Speed – 100, Frequency – 500, Z offset - .18 (for a nice dark engraving mark)
Step 4: Building the Box
Now to build the box. Use the 2x4 pieces to build two 48" x 24" rectangles using two screws on each corner.
Attach one sheet of plywood to each 2 x 4 frame, using drywall screws. I used four across the top and four across the bottom evenly spaced. Down each side I put a screw about every 12 inches. Counter-sink the screws slightly so that the bags will not snag.
Step 5: Leg Assembly
Now it's time for the legs. Get the 2x4 - 11-1/2” for the four legs. Make a full 3-1/2" radius cut on one end of each leg. To make the cut, measure 1-3/4" down the length of the 2x4 and draw a line across it. Place a compass point centered on that line then draw the arc. Use a jigsaw to make the cut.
Turn the box upside down; lay a leg parallel, flush up against one of the top corners with the radius side in the corner. Clamp into place. From the inside of the box, make a mark in the center of the 2x4 vertically inside the radius. Drill a 1/2-inch hole through the side of the box and through the support leg.
Fasten the legs to the platform using pairs of carriage bolts + washers + wingnuts. The legs will rotate for nicer storage.
Step 6: Paint and Varnish
Now we want to paint the sides of the box and a little into the top of the board. Fill any holes or cracks with wood filler and let dry. Mask off a 1” area around the outside of the top of the box, and using high gloss paint, paint the sides of the box and the 1” strip around the top of the box with at least 2 coats of paint.
Once this is dry, coat the entire top and sides of the box with a high gloss varnish to protect the engraved area and make the bags “slide” but not too slippery. Since the dark laser mark made while engraving is prone to smearing, we first coated it with a few layers of spray polyacrylic before using the heavier, brush on version. 5 – 10 coats total should be enough. You want the grooves made by the engraving to feel smooth and not interrupt the sliding of the bags.
Step 7: Bags
Cornhole bags are canvas bags measuring 6” x 6” and filled with one pound of feed corn. You can also fill them with plastic pellets to make them weather proof, but the corn lets off a small amount of dust when hitting the boards, which helps with getting the perfect slide when playing. Not being sewers, we ordered our bags from Victory Tailgate, but we wanted to personalize them for the recipient. We used a Speedy 300 120 watt laser to engrave the logo on one side of each bag. The trick is to lightly hit the cloth with the laser, bleaching out the fabric, but not compromising the integrity of it.
Trotec Speedy 300 120 watt
Engrave: Power – 30, Speed – 100, Frequency – 500
Step 8: Game On!
Now that you have all the parts of the set, it’s time to set it up and start playing. You can find the official rules to the game at the American Cornhole Association’s website.