Cornhole has quickly become a national pastime here in the USA and even further afield. It’s a great, easy-going game that gets us outside, moving around a little bit, but not really asking that we break a sweat. The boards are relatively portable, i.e. they will probably fit in a car trunk, and the rules area simple. Undoubtedly, these attributes — and the capacity to play with a beer in one’s hand — have made cornhole a favorite amongst the tailgating crowd.

But, rest assured, football and cornhole are not mutually exclusive. As the weather turns nice and we find ourselves yearning for an outside activity that doesn’t involve laboring in the sun, a pair of cornhole boards can beckon pretty convincingly, much like the barbecue pit. And, therein lies the golden idea: For those looking to kick up the next barbecue gathering (and the ones following), cornhole boards can really tie an event together.

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The Prep Talk

Okay! For those of you who aren’t fully aware of what cornhole is, let us define it for you. There are two boards, each with a hole in them and placed at opposite ends of the field of play. Each competitor gets four bags, and standing beside the resting board, they take turns trying to toss their bag into yonder hole. Points are awarded for the bags that land (and remain) on the board, and more points are awarded for bags that go into the hole.

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Now, for those who might be doubting themselves regarding the project, let us reassure you. This one is doable. The are a few cuts to be made, a few screws to be turned, but by and large, anyone who owns (or can borrow) the tools required—a saw, a drill, and a jigsaw—will have the ability to make this. For experienced DIYers, this will be a piece of cake, and for newbies, just be careful with the power tools.

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The Hardware

Well, we’ve already been discussing most of the tools necessary. In the power position, we can do with a circular saw, a drill and a jigsaw (obviously with blades and bits), but for old-school laborers (or the underequipped and cost-conscious), there are manual hand tools that can accomplish the tasks we have to perform. We will also need a pencil, a tape measure, a square and a compass (like in math class). Lastly, a helper (or partner) of some sort is pretty useful for holding boards and whatnot.

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Once the tools are checked off the list, the materials for building the board are easily available at just about any hardware or home improvement store. The wood is as follows:

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  • two two-foot-by-four-foot pieces of preferably hald-inch plywood (the top),
  • four lengths of two-by-four four feet long (the frame),
  • four lengths of two-by-four 21 inches long (the frame),
  • and four lengths of two-by-four one foot long (the legs).

And, the hardware is fairly minimal as well:

  • 20 one-inch drywall screws,
  • 16 three-inch drywall screws,
  • and four half-inch carriage bolts at least four inches long with accompanying wing nuts and washers.

The Action

Once the wood is cut to size, putting the frame together is pretty straight forward. Each frame gets two long (48 inch) pieces of two-by-four and two short (21 inch) pieces. At the corners, the long pieces go on the outside of the short pieces, and each corner should get two three-inch screws to bind it.

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With the frame assembled, we can now attach the top. The plywood should line up very nicely on the frame, and it can be screwed onto it using the one-inch screws. Put one screw in each corner, two evenly spaced screws along the both long sides and one screw in the middle of each short side.

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The legs are a little more complex. With the one-foot-long two-by-fours, we need to cut a semi-circle at one end of each of them. That means getting out the compass and the jigsaw. Measure one and three-fourths of an inch from the end where you’ll cut, and center the compass on that line to pencil in where to cut. After the cut has been made, use the same center point to drill a half-inch hole.

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To attach the legs, turn the boxes upside down, and put the round ends on the inside corners where the legs will be attached to the box, pushing the legs all the way against the back board of the frame. Use the drilled holes on the legs to mark where they will be attached, and drill two more half-inch holes in the sides. The legs can then be fastened on with the carriage bolts.

Once the legs are attached, the bottoms need to be cut at an angle so that they hold the top of the board 12 inches high. Turn the cornhole board back over, put it on the edge of a worktable (or picnic table) and using something to prop the back section to the right height (again, 12 inches), flip the leg down to mark the correct angle. Cut it and use that angle for cutting the other legs.

Lastly, there are the holes in the faceplate. Measure nine inches from the top and 12 inches from the sides to find the center part. Use the compass to draw a six-inch (diameter) hole. Drill a hole on the inside of the circle line in order to insert the jigsaw blade. Cut the hole.

Game Time

Cornhole boards are, of course, incomplete without cornhole bags. If someone crafty is around, they can certainly sew up some regulation bags with old blue jeans or a set of eight runs about twenty bucks. It’s really easy to make up your own barbecue games at this point, but to do it by the book and really get competitive, there are rules to follow. Cornhole will quickly become the life of the party.

Lead image source: Paul Ramos/Flickr