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Cornhole – Shocker Style!

Cornhole Board Set

I’ve built a few Cornhole boards over the past couple of years and I always had fun making them while learning new tricks along the way to make it easier with each new build. I will share with you my process so you can make your own cornhole game set.

History of Cornhole

Cornhole has been said by some to have its origins in Germany in the 14th Century (about the same period in history that the Renaissance movement began) and emulates much of the same gameplay and pitching rules as horseshoes. Cornhole emerged in the United States as a favorite pastime in Cincinnati, Ohio in the late 1990s. Gameplay at universities pushed Cornhole into mainstream popularity, especially around Ohio University and Michigan State University in the late 1990s. Soon after, the game spread like wildfire to back yards, beaches, breweries, and campgrounds across the United States and is gaining popularity in other countries.

The popularity of Cornhole is credited to it’s portability and ease of build. Aside from regional championship sporting competitions, there are also many Cornhole design contests – creating  a creative allure to the game.

So let’s build a cornhole set!

Tools Needed

Materials Needed

Item Qty Price ($)
Birch plywood 4’x4’x.5″ 1 25
Fir Studs – 2″x4″x8′ 4 15
Washers – 3/8″ 4 1
Wing Nuts – 3/8″ 4 3
Carriage Bolt 3/8″ X 3″ 4 2.50
Wood Screws – .75″ 1 box 5.50
Wood Screws – 2.5″ 16 3.00
Paint 15
Outdoor Wood Finish 15
Painter’s Tape 6
Wichita State Shockers Decals 2 30
Duck Cloth Cornhole Bags (set of 8) 25
Total Cost 141.50

The cost of materials is a bit higher than most people expect. But that’s a price we are willing to pay for a custom cornhole board built to last for decades! Remember – some of the materials like paint, finish and tape can be used for other projects so that might contribute to an overall lower cost to this project. If the bottom line is just too costly for your budget, you could dramatically cut the cost by using plain old plywood and and doing away with the paint job completely.

Construction

We aren’t building a rocket ship here. This part is the easy compared to the painting and finishing we will perform later in the project. There may seem to be a lot of steps in the construction steps compared the painting/finishing steps but I assure you, most of your time will be spent on painting and finishing.

Cornhole - Side View

  1. Cut the 4’x4′ birch plywood in half making two – 2’x4′ boards. Be sure to cut along the pattern of the grain. I usually have it cut where I buy it (Lowes) so it can fit in my car. They usually cut it for free.
  2. Cut four – 2′ boards from the 2″x4″ fir studs. We will use these for the short edges of the two boards. Be sure to measure the end lengths of the birch plywood and cut the 2″x4″ studs accordingly since the length of the birch board ends may not be 2′ exactly.
  3. Place the 2′ stud ends under the birch boards and set them in place to be screwed in. Set a clean paint can on top of the boards to keep the boards from moving around.
  4. The 2′ ends should have 3 screws in each side – evenly spaced apart – drilled from the birch top down into the 2′ studs. Pre-drill the screw holes about an inch from the edge and counter sink the holes about 1/8″ deep.
  5. Using the .75″ screws, drill the screws into the holes we made in step 4. Be sure to drill the screws deep enough so that you can put some wood putty to fill in the holes making a clean, flat surface.
  6. After you have drilled the 2′ ends in, measure the distance from the inside of the two ends where the side 2″x4″s will go. Cut the four side studs (2 for each board) according to each measurement.
  7. The side studs should have 4 screws in each side – evenly spaced apart – drilled from the birch top down into the side studs. Pre-drill the screw holes about an inch from the edge and counter sink the holes about 1/8″ deep.
  8. Using the .75″ screws, drill the screws into the holes we made in step 7. Again, be sure to drill the screws deep enough so that you can put some wood putty to fill in the holes making a clean, flat surface.
    Cornhole - Top and Back View
  9. At this point, we should have the birch top drilled into the side studs and the end studs making a box. Next, we will prepare two screw holes for each corner of each short side (a total of 8 screws per cornhole board) to join the short sides to the long sides by pre-drilling and counter-sinking the screw holes.
  10. Using the 2.5″ wood screws, drill the screws into the holes we made in step 9.
  11. Making the hole: Measure and mark 6″ from the top of the board from an estimate of the center-width.
  12. Measure and mark 12″ from the top of the board from an estimate of the center-width. We should now have the height of the 6 inch circular hole.
  13. Measure and mark 9″ from the top of the board from an estimate of the center-width. This should give us the vertical center of the circle.
  14. To get the horizontal center of the circle, use a large carpenter square to measure half the distance of the width of the board and mark the horizontal center where the vertical center intersects. This will give us the exact center of the circle.
  15. At this time, we could go ahead and drill the 6 inch hole. However, I found that doing so at this stage makes is difficult to mask the tape to paint a perfect 1 inch border around the hole because there would be nothing to reference the center when marking the mask tape with a carpenter compass. So for this step, use a carpenter compass to mark the 6 inch hole by placing the compass point in the center of the hole. Set the width of the compass to match up with radius of the hole. If you have it set correctly, the compass should be 3 inches apart.
  16. Now that you have drawn the 6 inch circle, place the painter’s tape along the outside of the 6 inch hole but still covering our markings.
  17. Extend the compass out another 1/2 inch to mark a 7 inch circle over where the tape was applied.
  18. Here comes the fun part. Using an electric power drill with the 6 inch hole saw attached, set the drill point into the center of the hole. Be sure to hole the drill tight and level with the board and start drilling! If you don’t have a good hold, the drill could jerk around causing you to scratch the board’s top – so put some muscle into your grip. I recommend using a power drill over a battery powered drill here because the 6 inch hole saw requires more torque than your usual bit. When were done, we should have a nice, perfect circle with at least one inch of tape around the hole with a 1 inch circle marked over the tape.
  19. Time to build the legs. Flip the board upside down. From the inside edge of each short side’s corner, mark 1 inch from the inside top. This is to mark the gap from the short edge to the leg so it has room to swing open and rest on the short edge.
  20. Using one of the left over 2″x4″ studs that is longer than 1.5′, mark the center of the pivot at one end of the stud where the carriage bolt will enter. The marking should be center of the 4″ stud end with the same distance from the butt of the board.
  21. Using a carpenter’s compass, mark a half circle from the center point we marked in step 20.
  22.  Place the stud inside the frame next to the marking we make in step 19 that allows a 1 inch gap from the inside end.
  23. While using your hand to clamp the board in place, use a 3/8 drill bit to drill through the frame and the leg.
  24. Using a table saw or chop saw, saw off the edges to make a round end of the leg from the marking we made in step 21.
  25. Insert a carriage bolt from the outside in, through the frame and into the leg. Add a washer and a wingnut to the inside of the bolt. Test the leg’s swing to ensure that it opens and closes smoothly.
  26. Since the leg will set flush with the ground, the length of the leg will be determined by the angle as it rests on the frame when opened.  We know that the height of the top side of the cornhole board needs to be 12 inches. So with the leg in the fully opened, resting position, we can use a large carpenter square to measure 12 inches from the board’s top down to the congruent angle of the leg. Mark outer edge of the leg accordingly.
  27. So now that we have the length of the leg, we need to mark where to cut so that the leg is flush with the ground since the board will be inclined. To do this, take a long straight board and draw a line from the mark we made in step 26 that follows to the lower bottom edge of the cornhole board.
  28. Remove the leg from the carriage bolt and cut the leg to length.
  29. Replace the leg and carriage bolt and test the leg. When pulled open, the leg should rest flat on the floor.
  30. Use the leg we cut as a template to cut 3 more legs.
    Cornhole - Inside View

Painting and Finishing

  1. Sand all edges of the cornhole boards using an electric sander.
  2. Fill in the drilled holes with wood filler/putty.
  3. To prepare the border color, tape the inside edges with painter’s tape allowing a 1 inch gap from the edge. Cut the excess tape using the craft knife.
  4. To prepare the triangle color, tape two strips meeting at the center, one inch below the circle’s masked border
  5. Cut along the hole’s masked border marked during step 17 of the construction steps and remove the tape inside of the cut.
  6. Paint the yellow border and circle border. You will probably need about four coats of paint.
  7. Paint the black triangle.
  8. Let it sit to dry for about an hour.
  9. Apply one coat of wood finish to the top of the board using a 4 inch paint roller.
  10. With the finish still wet, apply the decal over the black triangle area. Applying the decal over a wet layer of finish will help seal the decal.
  11. Apply a couple more coats of finish to the to top board. Be sure to coat over the decal.
  12. Let the finish dry for at least six hours.
  13. Apply black paint to the sides and inside to prevent the exposure of moisture.
  14. Let the paint sit to dry for about an hour.

Now grab a six pack of Boulevard, call your friends over and enjoy the sweet envy when they see your new Shocker cornhole set.

Go Shockers!

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