Introduction: Steal Your Cornhole
Hi! This is my first attempt at an Instructable and I decided to chronicle my second set of cornhole boards. This set was made with the Steal Your Face logo of the Grateful Dead in anticipation of the upcoming Dead & Co tour. I hope to be playing cornhole while tailgating before the show. I completed this build on a budget of around $70.
Table Saw or Circular Saw
13/32" Drill Bit
1/16" Drill Bit
Palm sander and various grits of sandpaper
*Not all of these tools are necessary to complete this build.
NOTE: Be sure to use any and all necessary personal protective equipment when working with power tools and other construction materials and supplies. Follow all safety precautions and work in a well lit and well ventilated area at all times.
Step 1: Cutting the Wood
Drawing #1: The overall dimensions of each deck is 2' x 4'. The hole in the center of each board is 6" in diameter and is centered 9" from the top of the deck and 12" from either side. Each frame consists of two 48" lengths for the sides and three 21" lengths for the top, middle and bottom. I ripped down 2 x 4's to 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" using a table saw to reduce the overall weight of the boards and to save on wood.
Drawing #2: I used 3/4" birch plywood from the local big box hardware store for the decks and legs. You can use this cutting schedule as a guide and improvise/substitute if necessary.
Drawing #3: This shows all the dimensions for the lengths that make up the frame. In all you'll need:
(6) - 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 21"
(4) - 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 48"
Once all the wood is cut to size, its time to sand everything down. I start with 80 grit and then 150 and 220 to finish it off. Always sand in the direction of the grain. Using a handheld sander or sanding block makes this step easier.
Step 2: Adding the Logo
I am not an artist. I took the image file to staples on a flash drive and had them print out two 12" x 12" copies.
Lay out where the edges of the paper need to be so that the image will be centered on the deck. The dimensions and positioning will be specific to the size and shape of your image of choice. You could also skip this step if you don't want an image on your boards.
Next take a piece of charcoal crayon and cover the back of the paper with charcoal. Place the image charcoal side down on the deck in the desired position and tape it down securely. Using a pen or pencil trace the image completely by running the pencil over the entire image. This will transfer the image in charcoal to the wood deck. I used black paint to darken it.
Step 3: Adjustable Legs!
The legs are adjustable so that if there is a low spot in the grass where you want to place the board, you can loosen the wing nut and extend the leg to achieve maximum stability. Nobody wants their cornhole boards bouncing around during use! The extension is completely optional for this design and can be skipped. I used a rotary mill to make the slot for adjust-ability and a belt sander to round the corners for aesthetics. If you don't have access to a mill or belt sander, simple squared edges and fixed length legs are fine just use the overall dimensions and/or design your own.
For the slot, a 7/16" end mill was used and it was centered in the 9" leg extension. Drill a hole in the 11" leg with a 7/16" drill bit. To recess the head of the bolt into the leg, a 3/4" Forstner bit was used. This will allow the leg to fully retract and also let the legs nest inside the opposite board when storing.
In the first version of boards I placed a peg just above the bolt hole in the 11" leg to stabilize the extension. This was to prevent the extension from tilting when in use. I left that out on this set and added lock washers to the bolting assembly instead. So far this works fine to keep the extension from rotating around the bolt.
Step 4: Sand (again), Stain and Polyurethane
Another final sanding with 220 or greater never hurts anything and can remove any dirt, dings or scratches incurred during construction. I used Minwax Dark Walnut stain but cut it with mineral spirits to lighten it up for the first application. I let the stain soak in for about 5-10 minutes and then wiped away the excess with a clean dry rag. For the darker part of the logo I did two or three applications of stain in that area and was diligent about wiping away any excess that started to bleed across the lines. This worked well although there are some areas where the dark stain mixed into the grain of the light areas. I think it adds to the "handmade" charm of this build.
There is a lot of trial and error involved here to get the look you want so you may want to have a few test pieces available to try out different ratios and see what you like. I have no idea what ratio of stain to spirits I used but I used a lighter shade for the decks and legs and a darker shade for the frames.
Once satisfied with the stain and everything has time to dry a few coats of polyurethane add protection and just the right amount of slide for these boards. Use a scotch-brite pad between coats and make sure to allow it to cure for a few days before playing as the initial finish can seem a bit tacky.
Step 5: Attaching the Legs and Decks
Getting the legs to swing out and back unobstructed can be a bit tricky. This is why I decided to put a 1" radius on the corner of the 11" leg where it attaches to the frame. To do this I used a 1" washer and traced the radius onto the leg. I then removed the excess material using a belt sander. If you don't have access to a belt sander you can cut the corner off with a straight cut. You only need to remove enough material so that the leg can swing without rubbing against the backside of the deck.
First, drill a 7/16" hole in the frame 3-7/8" from the top on either side. Next, clamp the 11" leg to the inside of the frame so that the top edge of the leg is 2-7/8" from the top edge of the frame. Next. drill through the leg. Finally, attach the leg to the frame using the 3/8" x 2-1/2" hex head bolts, washers, lock washer and wing nuts. Do this for all four legs. If you're using the 9" leg extensions you can attach them now using additional 3/8" x 2-1/2" hex head bolts, washers, lock washer and wing nuts.
Note: I decided to use a Forstner bit to widen the mounting holes so that the head of the bolt is recessed in the frame. I think this looks really nice but its only an aesthetic choice and can be skipped if you're a monster and like to have bolts sticking out willy-nilly.
For attaching the decks I wanted to have the fasteners hidden. I chose to use corner braces and attached the deck to the frame in 8 places along the inside of the frame. I'm not sure how these are going to hold up but I'd rather try to have the tops unmarred by screws or nails if possible. If the braces end up failing I will most likely glue and nail the decks to the frame with a 16 gauge pneumatic nail gun. If you are less concerned about visible fasteners the easiest and most secure method would be to glue and screw the decks to the frame with a 1-1/4" to 2" wood screw.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
At this point your boards should be ready to go. Unless of course you want to add some bling!
If your design was similar to mine you should be able to place your boards back to back so that the legs nest completely allowing the boards to sit flush against each other. I bought some latches and a handle at the big box store and installed these as shown. You can stuff the bags inside one of the holes and now you've got one portable set of cornhole boards.
Lastly I added a 27 foot string that can be used to stretch between the boards to regulation spacing. I added a washer to the end for some reason. I also added a washer at the 24' mark for Jr spacing.
Well, that's it. I hope you have found this helpful and are able to build and enjoy your own set. If you see anything that doesn't make sense, is flat out wrong or could use improvement, please let me know.