How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

TOH's Team Saturday shows you how to heat up your summer barbeques with this popular beanbag-toss game

Photo by Room 5 Films

Cornhole is everywhere! The backyard beanbag-toss game that caught fire in the Midwest now boasts its own association, Wikipedia entry, and myriad online purveyors. It's easy to see why it's become such a barbeque favorite: You can hold a beverage in one hand and loft your beanbag with the other. But why pay hundreds of dollars for game boards adorned with your feeble alma mater when you can make ones to be proud of with plywood and 2x4s? This Old House's experts, aka Team Saturday, will walk you through the steps in a video tutorial. As for your poor aim? Nothing a few well-chosen teammates can't overcome.

Cut List
• ½-inch birch-veneer plywood: two at 24 by 48 inches • 2x4 sides: four at 48 inches
• 2x4 ends: four at 21 inches
• 2x4 legs: four at 12 inches

Download rules and a scorecard for the game of cornhole.


Steps // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set
1 ×

Overview to Build Cornhole Game Boards

 
Step One // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Overview to Build Cornhole Game Boards

overview on how to build a cornhole game board
Photo by Douglas Adams

Ours are regulation boards as specified by the American Cornhole Organization, but the carrying handles and, of course, the price make the TOH version a clear winner. The 2x4 frames couldn't be easier to assemble, and the 24-by-48-inch plywood sheets needed for each deck are a stock size available at most home centers—be sure to grab furniture-grade veneer to provide a nice slippery surface for the bags. (You can source beanbags from clevelandbags.com.) The only challenge may be rounding off the corners atop the legs so they don't catch the frame when you fold them flat. But don't let a quick run of the jigsaw stand between you and a rousing game of cornhole at your next barbecue.

 
2 ×

Outline and cut out the holes

 
Step Two // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Outline and cut out the holes

two men tracing circle for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber


On a 24-by-48-inch piece of ½-inch furniture-grade plywood, mark a spot 8⅞ inches from the top and centered 12 inches from each side. Plant your compass point there, and draw a circle with a 3-inch radius. Drill a hole anywhere inside the circle for the jigsaw blade, and then use the jigsaw to cut out the circle. Stack the two sheets of plywood together, and use the cutout to trace the circle for the second sheet. Drill a hole, and then cut out the circle in that piece.

 
3 ×

Cut 2x4 frames and legs

 
Step Three // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Cut 2x4 frames and legs

man making legs for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

Saw the 2x4 side and end frame pieces and legs to length according to the cut list. To outline each leg's rounded-off corners, draw a line parallel to, and 1¾ inches below, the top edge; measure and mark the center of that line. Use that mark as the pivot for your compass, set at a 1¾-inch radius, and draw a half-circle that intersects with the top edge. Now cut along that line with the jigsaw. Drill a hole through your compass pivot with a ¼-inch bit. Repeat for all legs.

 
4 ×

Position the frames

 
Step Four // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Position the frames

two men positioning frames for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

For each deck: Set the frame pieces in place so that the short ends sit inside the long sides, and then lay the plywood deck on top, using the deck's square corners to adjust the frame pieces until they are square. Lift the deck and apply wood glue to the top edge of each frame piece and set the plywood deck back in place. Adjust the frame pieces until each sits flush with the outer edge of the deck.

 
5 ×

Assemble the frames and decks

 
Step Five // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Assemble the frames and decks

two men assembling frames for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

At each corner, screw through the sides into the end pieces with 2 evenly spaced 3-inch deck screws. Attach each deck to its frame with 1¼-inch finish screws. Cover all the fastener holes with wood filler, then sand smooth and apply a coat of primer to the assemblies and legs.


 
6 ×

Tape off the design

 
Step Six // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Tape off the design

two men taping off design for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

Draw the mascot of your favorite sports team, your family crest, or any other graphic on each deck. Mask off the area around the design with painter's tape. For curved lines, use an X-Acto or utility knife to trim the tape. Draw a plastic putty knife along the tape to seal the edges and to keep the paint from bleeding underneath.

 
7 ×

Paint the design

 
Step Seven // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Paint the design

two men painting design for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

Using satin spray paint, coat the design on each deck in different colors to designate opposing teams. Use long, even strokes to keep the paint from pooling.

 
8 ×

Remove the tape

 
Step Eight // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Remove the tape

two men removing tape of design for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

While the paint is still tacky, slowly peel the tape at a sharp angle away from the design. Allow the design to dry fully, then coat the deck with a protective layer of polyacrylic to seal the design and prevent it from chipping. The polyacrylic will also create a slick surface that makes it more challenging to land beanbags on the deck without sliding off.

 
9 ×

Attach the handles

 
Step Nine // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Attach the handles

two men attaching utility pulls for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

On one side of each frame, attach a utility pull with the screws provided. When the legs are folded up, the handle will let you take your fun on the road.

 
10 ×

Bolt the legs to the frames

 
Step Ten // How to Build a Cornhole Game Set

Bolt the legs to the frames

two men attaching legs for cornhole game board
Photo by Wendell Webber

Lay each assembly deck-side down. At the beanbag end of the board, drill a ⅜-inch hole through the center of each side piece 3½ inches down from the outside corner. Push a bolt through each hole and fit a leg onto the bolt inside the frame. Secure the bolt with a washer and nut. Tighten the nut until it's snug but not so snug that you can't fold it flat for storage.

 
 
 

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