Thursday, October 16, 2014

DIY Recessed Cornhole Boards

My Brother/Sister-in-law asked me to make a cornhole set for their wedding; requesting that the boards be Colorado University and University of Southern California themed.

I've probably only played cornhole three times in my life....  Unbeknownst to me, cornhole is serious stuff.  No folks, cornhole is NOT glorified bean bag toss (yes it is).  It even has an official American Cornhole Association which has a real World Championship.  Does ESPN cover that?

I digress.

The only thing I really needed to know was the specifications for making a "regulation" cornhole board which can be found here.  
  • Boards need to be 24" x 48" w/ 6" diameter hole, centered (9" from top of board and centered 12" from each side edge
  • Front of the board is 3"- 4" from the ground to the top of playing surface 
  • Back of board is 12" from ground to top of playing surface

I did further research to look into how I could make the board fancier/nicer.  I came across this  board on Etsy and thought it was pretty snazzy.  I thought the recessed board really set this cornhole set apart from all the other boards.  The bean bag holder on the bottom is also awesome.  I had ambitions of adding it, but ran out of time.

Anywho,  here's a quick breakdown of how I made the recessed boards.

- (3) 8ft 2x4's  I used pine for these
- 3/4"  Plywood (I used Oak.  No particular reason other than it's what we had in the garage)
-Wood Glue
-Gate Handle
-Sand Paper
-Wood Filler
-Stain (I used Minwax Dark Walnut)
-Paint for design (I used: Behr Regal Red, Yellow Gold, and Eggshell Cream)

-Table Saw
-Miter Saw
-Nail Gun
-Drill with 1/2" bit
-Brush for Stain
-Brush for Paint
-Angle Clamp (in my head I call it a picture frame clamp-I use this one)
-Orbital Sander
-Compass or something round w/ 6" diameter (for drawing cornhole hole & making legs)

First I notched out the 2x4's with my table saw.  I set the table saw to a depth of 3/4" and ran each 2x4 through twice.

I beveled?  I get confused between the two... I think this is a bevel cut.  Er, so,  I beveled each corner at 45 degrees.

Then glued and nailed the frames together while secured by an angle clamp.  I did my best to make the frames as square as possible.  I measured the diagonals to see if both distances matched, (they did when I measured) but they still managed to be a little off.

Next was the tricky/lame part.  I had to cut my oak plywood into sheets to fit into the frames, and being that both frames were just slightly off square it was a challenge that involved way too much sanding.  One was much worse than the other.

Any accidental gaps were easily taken care of with wood filler.  Like I said my first board was super snug and almost perfect..  The second board I got a lot  little lazy and may have run it through the table saw instead of very carefully sanding it down to get a perfect fit.  Which ended up leaving me with more of a gap between my frame and board.  Again, wood filler to the rescue -Although, it's ideal to make the boards as snug as possible because the wood filler has the potential of cracking down the road.  After the wood filler was dry I nailed the board from the top and side.

The arrows in the above picture indicate nails.  

Sanded with 120 and 220 grit...

After the boards were built I cut a 6" hole centered 9" down from the top using a drill, jig saw and a lot of sand paper.

So, I bought a compass for this but left it at home (I finished building/painting this in Oregon).  So I ended up running around the house looking for a 6" diameter bowl...  A compass would have made this part easier, but in a pinch a bowl works fine.


Cutting the legs was easy, the hard part (for me) was correctly attaching them, mainly because I didn't pay attention to what I was doing.

  Take a 2x4 cut 4 pieces to approximately 12".  To make the cut measure 1-3/4" down the leg and draw a line across the 2x4, use a compass on the center point of that line and draw and arc, cut it using a jigsaw.

Because the recessed board dimensions were slightly different than a regular corn hole board I ended up tweaking them quite a bit. Unfortunately I don't have the board with me anymore to tell you what my final measurements were.

So, I'm trying to pull my leg tweaks from the back of my mind and am not doing very well, it doesn't help that I can't find any of the pictures I took while cutting the legs.

Some Leg Tweaks:

  • My leg length was slightly different than the tutorial I followed because of the recessed board.  The tutorial I followed said to cut the legs at 11-1/2"  My suggestion is to cut the legs long maybe 12" (to be really safe) until they're on.  Then you can cut to fit so the top of the board is 12" off the ground
  •  I had to trim the sides down on the 2x4- This is to make it so the legs are flush with the board when closed.  This step isn't entirely necessary, but it's a nice finishing touch.
  • To figure out where you need to drill your leg holes turn the box upside down, fit the leg flush up against the corner, clamp, and drill a 1/2" hole in the center of your arc.  As you can see from the picture below I messed that up.  I pre-drilled the hole and thoughtlessly put the hole way to low.  I ended up having to re-cut the arc on both legs, leaving me with just enough length to get my needed 12" from the ground only if I had the legs stand on a corner.  So, don't be like me, follow directions.


After I hacked away at my legs until they correctly fit I attached them with 8  4" carriage bolts, washers, and wing nuts.  I also added some corner braces (on the inside of the boards), and a 5-3/4 door pull on the sides to make carrying easier :-)

I painted all the hardware with Rust-oleum Hammered spray paint.

I love the finish color, but it doesn't look very hammered to me.

Staining and Painting:

For the stain I used two coats of  Minwax Dark Walnut

The painting process was long and tedious...  First, I blew up a picture  of each logo to the size I wanted. . .

 I thought the USC would be easier than the buffalo, so I tackled the buffalo first and left the "easy" part for last.  Doing a double outline wouldn't be so bad, but doing a triple line was incredibly mind numbing.



When I painted the yellow part of this I put down a a coat of primer because I read that people had a hard time with the yellow color on dark stain.  It seemed to help (I forgot to do this on the yellow stripe on the buff one).

Paint Colors:  Behr Regal Red, Yellow Gold, and Eggshell Cream  All paint samples from Home Depot

Technically the yellow on the buffalo should be gold.  However, for the sake of matching I called it good with the yellow gold on both the USC and Buffalo.

 I was really pleased with the end results.  After everything was said and done I covered it with a few coats of polycrylic.