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How to Build a Pipe Ball Lawn Game

TOH's Team Saturday shows how to cut and connect drainpipe into a rack for a simple but challenging ball-toss lawn game

All those hours of playing Nerf hoops might finally add up to a useful skill when you bust out the pipe-ball game at your next garden party. Instead of shooting a foam basketball at a door-mounted hoop, though, you're arcing a tennis ball at a grouping of pipes—and the rebound is nasty.

The angled ends and the varying heights of the pipes make it a game of skill that demands nothing less than the equivalent of a swish. Catch the unforgiving angled rim of one of the pipes and you're off to the bushes to find where the ball bounced. But let's be honest: The search won't be any harder than rooting around for that Nerf basketball in your childhood room.

Step 1

Overview to to Build a Pipe Ball Game

Photo by Douglas Adams

To create a triangular rack of pipes whose openings angle toward the players, you'll cut different lengths at a 30-degree angle and arrange them with the shortest one at the front. Because the width of the drainpipe is larger than many miter saws, you may need to fabricate a jig to guide your pull saw at the appropriate angle. And since the pipes aren't made of PVC—and can't be glued—you'll need to drill holes where they meet and attach them to one other with plastic ties. Once you're finished, you can create a second rack and set up a playing field, or have everyone trade off aiming at the same rack. Either way, it's easy to spot the true pros. They're the ones who score while holding a drink in one hand.

Scroll down to the bottom of this article for the shopping list and tools needed to complete this project.

Cut List (per rack)

All dimensions are measured to the longest point of the tip angle

  • Drain pipe: four at 14 inches
  • Drain pipe: three at 11½ inches
  • Drain pipe: two at 9 inches
  • Drain pipe: one at 7 inches
  • 1x5 jig base: one at 24 inches
  • 1x6 jig wall: two at 24 inches, beveled 30 degrees at one end

Download rules and a scorecard for the game of pipe ball.

Step 2

Cut the Jig Pieces

Photo by Wendell Webber

First, cut the jig walls and base to length according to the cut list. With your circular saw set to 30 degrees and guided by a straightedge, bevel one end of each jig wall.

Step 3

Build the Jig

Photo by Wendell Webber

Lay the base flat, and sandwich it between the walls, set on edge with their bevels parallel. Use a straightedge to ensure the bevels are in line. At the nonbeveled end of the assembly, mark each of the walls flush with the butt of the base and cut them to length. This way, you can use one side of the jig for angled cuts, and the other side to guide straight cuts. Attach the pieces together by screwing through the sides and into the edges of the base.

Step 4

Cut the Angles

Photo by Wendell Webber

Set the blade of the pull saw on the pipe, using the jig bevels as a guide. Cut through the pipe keeping the blade against the bevels through the entire cut.

Step 5

Mark a Straight Cut

Photo by Wendell Webber

To mark your straight cut, measure from the peak of the angle. Use the opposite side of the jig to make the cut. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the pipes are cut to length.

Step 6

Drill Holes in the Pipes

Photo by Wendell Webber

Rack the pipes into a triangular shape on their angled ends, with the tallest row of four in back and the shortest one in front so that all the angles line up. On the bottom (straight—cut) edge of each pipe, mark where each pipe touches the adjoining pipes. One by one, remove a pipe from the grouping and transfer vertical lines onto the side of the pipe from the bottom marks. On each line, drill a ¼—inch hole at ½ inch and 4 inches from the bottom; you'll run plastic ties through these holes to connect the pipes.

Step 7

Paint the Pipes

Photo by Wendell Weber

Using a variety of spray paint colors, coat the exterior of each pipe with long, even strokes.

Step 8

Attach the Numbers

Photo by Wendell Webber

Attach number stickers to the inside of each pipe just below the peak to designate points: 1, 2, 3, and 5, going from the back row to the single pipe in front.

Step 9

Attach the Pipes

Photo by Wendell Webber

While all the pipes are positioned upside down on their angled ends, loop a plastic tie from the deeper 4-inch hole through the shallow ½-inch hole, secure it, and cut off the excess. Repeat until all the pipes are attached.

Shopping List

  • 4-inch drainpipe Get one 10-foot length per rack
  • 1x5 Get 6 feet
  • Stick-on numbersPlastic ties in 11-inch lengths
  • Tennis balls Get two packs of three in different colors
  • Spray paint