Want to make your own cornhole set in just a few hours?
Multiple friends have asked for my cornhole plans and the cornhole sets have been flying off the shelves at Traughber Design, so I thought I’d put this how-to guide out for everyone. If you’re not familiar with cornhole, it is a very simple game that is a great icebreaker for parties. It’s so popular there is even an American Cornhole Organization (check out the rules here).
A 4′ x 8′ sheet of half inch plywood
Three 8′ 2x4s (you may need four if you don’t have any scrap for the legs)
Four 3/8″ diameter 4″ long carriage bolts with wing nuts
Glue or fasteners (more on those later)
Step 1: cut the plywood in half with a circular saw (or Tracksaw for you Festool fans) so you have two 2′ x 4′ pieces of plywood. This will give you two regulation-sized playing surfaces.
Step 2: cut the holes. This is probably the trickiest part since not too many people have a jigsaw and jigsaw accessory to cut a perfect hole, but there are ways around it. First of all, your hole needs to be 6 inches in diameter to be “legal” according to the ACO. Center the hole 9 inches from the top of the sheet of plywood (see picture).
If you are fortunate enough (remember when we talked about investing in tools in blog post #2?) to own a Festool Carvex jigsaw (another option is described below), then drill a 4mm hole at the center of the circle, insert the circle attachment pin, drill a 10mm hole at the edge of the circle to accommodate the jigsaw blade and cut away.
You will probably need to use a wood rasp to even the edges where you originally cut the 10mm hole. If you don’t have a Carvex, you can still put a nail where the center of the hole goes and tie some string or twine between the nail and your jigsaw. Make sure you cut a hole on the arc of the circle with a drill bit large enough for the blade of your jigsaw to start in. After you’ve cut the circle, clean up the edges with a wood rasp.
Step 3: make the frame. Cut one of the 8′ 2x4s into four 2′ sections, two for each cornhole frame. Then cut two 45″ sections from two 8′ 2x4s which gives you two for each frame. Drill the holes for the carriage bolts with a drill press before joining the boards together so the holes are parallel. The holes are 3/8″ in diameter and 2 inches from the end of the board. If you have a Festool Domino, join the two 24″ sections to the two 45″ sections with two tenons at each joint. I prefer the 10mm by 50mm tenons since the joined boards are 37mm thick (using the 1/3 rule the tenons would be no more than 12mm). If you don’t have a Domino, you can either screw or nail the boards together. Make sure you put the holes for the legs opposite each other when you are joining the boards.
Step 4: attach the playing surface to the frame next. I like to use glue to attach the plywood to the 2x4s since it eliminates ugly metal fasteners which have to be covered with wood filler later. The glue method will only work if you have a lot of wood clamps, though. I use over a dozen clamps on each 2′ x 4′ piece of plywood because you want a lot of clamping pressure to ensure the bond stays strong in any weather. I’ve had good luck with Titebond III glue. If you don’t have a lot of clamps, I recommend screwing or nailing the plywood to the frame and covering them with wood filler or covering them with paint. Make sure you align the part of the frame with the leg holes at the same end of the plywood that has the 6″ hole.
Step 5: make and attach the legs (see picture). These can easily be cut from some scrap 2x4s. First drill the holes using a drill press if you have one or a hand drill. Then cut the 45 degree angles at the top and the 15 degree angle at the bottom. Attach the legs to the frame and test to make sure the legs swing freely. If they don’t you may have to trip a bit from the top of the legs.
Step 6: apply finish. Some people prefer paint and some prefer stain. If painting, I recommend a latex primer then at least one coat of semi-gloss paint. For stain, I recommend at least one coat of stain then at least two coats of polyurethane varnish to give the surface enough slickness for the bean bags. For more information on our finishing process, check out our post on finishing the cherry coat rack commission.
Speaking of bean bags, I tested bags from a local discount store as well as the local sporting goods store and they fell apart during the first game. I highly recommend the double stitched canvas bags from All-American Tailgate. We’ve used their bean bags for several parties and they are still going strong.
This project should only take a few hours to make and will give you many hours of cornhole-playing fun. Enjoy!