DIY Cornhole Boards

Posted on November 3, 2014

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A few weekends ago, I was in a good friend’s backyard on one of these gorgeous California fall days we’ve had lately. It was beautiful out and we were making the most of it. We had beers, barbeque and kids running around everywhere. It was good times all around.

There was one thing that kept us occupied for hours. We had a blast battling one another for backyard supremacy. We were playing Cornhole.

For those of you who don’t know, Cornhole is a popular lawn and tailgate game that is also known as beanbag toss. Similar to horseshoe or lawn darts, it consists of lobbing corn filled beanbags at a small board with a hole in it. The main object, of course, is to get your bags in the hole. There’s a bit more to it than that, but trust me it’s fun!

As we played our little hearts out that day, I remember thinking to myself that I needed to find a way to get paid to do things like this. Please don’t tell my boss, but I think I found it! I would bring Cornhole to the office.

Of course, there would be no beer involved and no happy screaming children. But it was a great excuse for a new DIY project and blog post.

Finished DIY Cornhole project

Finished DIY Cornhole project ready for action.

Here’s the needed materials-
– (4) 48” 1”x4”s. I preferred the 1x to save weight but feel free to use 2×4
– (4) 24” 1”x4”s
– (4) 18” 1”x4”s
– (2) 48”x24” sheets of ply. I used ¾”
– 4 3/8”x3” carriage bolts
– 6 3/8” washers
– 4 3/8” nuts (locking, or wingnut)
– Simpson Strong-Tie Hand-Drive finishing nails
– 4 Simpson Strong-Tie GA1’s
– 4 Simpson Strong-Tie RTA1’s
– Wood glue
– 8 bean bags. They can be found easily online in every color and wouldn’t be too hard to make either. I opted to buy them since my sewing machine skills are a bit rusty (cough cough nonexistent).

Some people include handles and beanbag storage and all kinds of bells and whistles. Some crafty folks even make LED lit holes. You will also probably want to add some type of design and a nice clear coat at the end. I’ll leave the decorating up to you. Here’s how to build it.

Step 1 – Build your box

Start by making your basic box shape. You can do this various ways, the simplest is to glue the boards in their proper place and then use finish nails to nail them together through the plywood. I chose to get fancy because I wanted to use some of my new tools.

DIY Cornhole project

DIY Cornhole project in progress

As you can see, I made 45 degrees cuts at the ends of all my side rails and then joined them to the plywood with pocket screws. On the next box I used biscuit joints. The pocket screws and biscuit joints worked perfectly well but added a lot of work. I may have been having a bit too much fun and could have saved myself some time and effort by using square cuts and sticking to glue and nails.

Step 2 – Cut out your hole

Start by finding a center point 9” down from the top of the board and 12” from either side. I used a compass but a piece of string or a small bucket will work just fine. Anything that helps you draw a 6” diameter circle centered on that point. Poke a hole in in the center of the hole with a drill and use that hole as a starting point for a jigsaw and slowly cut out your hole. If you go slowly, you can get a nice clean cut as you want this hole to be as regular as possible.

Step 3 – Add the legs

For this part, use the remaining 4 sections of 1×4. You need to round one end off to give the legs room to rotate in the frame so draw a radius at one end. I used a coffee cup and it worked perfect. Then drill a 3/8” hole 2” down from the rounded end and centered at 1 ¾” from either side. At the other end of your leg, make a 45-degree cut starting at the very end.

Next, drill a hole in your boxes side rail 4” from the top of the box and 2 ¾” down from the top of the plywood. This is where your legs will attach to your frame. Using the carriage bolts, nuts and washers, attach the legs so that there are two washers between the inside of the side rails and the legs. It should look like so.

Inside view of DIY Cornhole project

Inside view of DIY Cornhole project featuring connector and legs.

As you can see in this picture, now is also a great time to install your connectors. I used 2 GA1s, on either side at the end with the legs. This connector will not interfere with the movement of the legs. At the other end, I installed RTA1s along the edge because I thought they would help protect the end that touches the ground.

View of wood to wood connection on DIY Cornhole project.

View of wood to wood connection on DIY Cornhole project.

If you made it through my tutorial so far, congratulations! You now are the proud owner of functional Cornhole boxes. But we can’t stop there; it’s time to paint those Cornhole boxes.

Step 4 – Decorate

I wanted a natural wood look and a lot of contrast so I went for black and a light stain. Using painter’s tape, I blocked off different areas on each box to make them appear to be inverse of one another. That was actually pretty fun but I definitely had my fingers crossed hoping all the masking would work.

Paint job in progress of my DIY Cornhole project.

And it did!

Final shot of finished DIY Cornhole project.

Final shot of finished DIY Cornhole project.

Not too shabby if I may say so myself. All that’s missing is a clear coat or two to make them nice and smooth and protect the surface. I used spray on polyurethane to do 2 or 3 coats, which gave a nice polished look to the finished project.

This is a great project. It is relatively low cost and fun to build. Not to mention lots of fun to play for a long time to come. This was my first Cornhole set and while I might change a few things were I to do it again, I am really pleased with how it turned out. The only question left is, who wants to play the first game? Against me of course. -Steve

  • Joshua Harris

    Nice. I’m copying this!