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Remember the game of Jarts and the need to stay alert to avoid the incoming missiles? How about horseshoes and the mad dash to escape a rolling band of steel as it circled behind you before clipping your ankle bone? Well, perhaps it is time to introduce your family to a much safer pastime, Cornhole. Go ahead and laugh. All of us do. Until we pick up a bag, and make that first toss.

How would I describe Cornhole?

  • Is Cornhole challenging? Yes.
  • Does Cornhole offer any fun? Bucket loads.
  • Can Cornhole be competitive? Knock your opponent’s bag from the board and see.

I learned all I need to know about Cornhole at this excellent site: Cornhole How To. The site offers parts lists for the boards, detailed building instructions for boards and bags, and links to Cornhole crazies around the web.

Making Cornhole boards is an easy DIY project. This is an opportunity to share woodworking skills with the next generation and give the family a bonding point over choosing the paint scheme for the final products. Of course, more than one set of boards may be required to satisfy everyone’s creative drive.

What do I need to make a pair of boards?

  • Two 2’ x 4’ x ½”(or ¾”) sheets of plywood. I found furniture-grade precut sheets at the home center and figured it was worth a little more $ not to have to horse a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood home.
  • Four 2” x 4” x8’ boards. Pick through the pile and find the straightest boards you can. If you are new at selecting lumber, look down the length of the thin edge then the thick edge. If the board curves, toss it back and check the next one.
  • Four carriage bolts – 3/8” diameter and 4½” long.
  • Four 3/8” flat washers.
  • Four 3/8” wing nuts.

How do I make the cuts?

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All the cuts are straight (except for the legs) and can be made with a hand saw, circular saw, or chop saw. From each 2×4 cut a 48”, a 21” and a 16” section. The goal is a collection of pieces like those shown in the photo.

How do I assembly my boards?

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Every carpenter has his own method for framing. I use my Kreg Jig® pocket screw tool religiously and figured it was perfect for a Cornhole application. Note the pockets in the ends of my 21” sections. Visit Cornhole How To for an excellent framing technique using clamps. Very cool!

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The standard Cornhole board has a 6” hole located 12” in and 9” down from one end. Marking the spot is easy enough, but cutting it is another matter. Some use a drill and jig saw. Unless the builder takes great care, a hole created in such a fashion can be rough and will require serious elbow grease, a rasp, and sandpaper.

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I priced a 6” hole saw, and it was steep. I figured the jig saw and sandpaper were in my future, until I found this item on Amazon. The name is aptly chosen, EazyPower 6″ Hole Saw for Cornhole Boards. The ordering link is included at the bottom of the page.

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I used my cordless drill on a high torque setting. Warning – drill slowly and hang on tightly!!! When the teeth bite the wood, the drill may jump. I drilled partially from one side then flipped the board to finish the hole to prevent tear out. Sand the edges and round them over. Remember you will be inserting your hand through this hole quite often once play begins.

Note my extreme optimism. Cornhole is already improving my outlook on life.

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I installed the plywood decks to the frames using 1¼” deck screws. I chose to countersink my screws so the final product has a smooth surface. Take the time and do your boards right if you expect to use them for years.

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Pay close attention to the leg instructions on the Cornhole How To site. This is the tricky part in the process, but the directions should steer you around any difficulties. A quick search of my shop turned up a spray bottle that worked for the needed arc since I did not have a compass at hand.

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For my Cornhole board the support stack for the leg trimming step consisted of 2 pieces of 4”x4” and a section of ¾” lumber. Again I direct you to Cornhole How To for details. Note the deck height meets the 12” Cornhole standard.

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My trusty steel ruler provided a nice edge for scribing the cut line. The angle was nearly 45°, very easy to slice with the chop saw.

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I filled the screw holes and sanded the surfaces. Next I applied a coat of primer. I also primed and painted the bottoms.

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The paint scheme should be customized for your family. Kids love to choose colors and help with the painting. Each time they play they will remember working with Dad to build the boards. There may be a few brush marks left or some paint that strays across a line but who cares? No one will notice once the Cornhole Olympics begin.

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Painting and waiting for coats to dry took much longer than cutting and assembling. I had to dig out my patience.

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After the paint aged (overnight) I added two coats of Minwax® Polycrylic®. That finish dried quickly and provided a nice sheen.

Can I make my own bags?

We purchased a set of bags from a local sporting goods store, and they lasted through three matches before splitting open. Invest money in good bags or make your own. Feed corn (about $10 for a 50 pound bag) is the fill of choice, and canvas is available in many colors from the local fabric store.

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Our new bags work very well. My wife triple-stitched the edges and has used them to trounce me in nearly every match. I think I will use the red bags next time and see if my skill level improves.

That’s all for now. I need to practice.