Cornhole Game: How to Build the Board


Cornhole, a game that’s been around for centuries, is a popular pastime for tailgate entertainment or backyard fun. You just need a cornhole board and some bags — and a free afternoon with family or friends!


History of the Game

Many people believe a cabinet maker in Germany invented the cornhole game in the 14th century. 

As the story goes, Matthias Kuepermann found a group of boys throwing stones into groundhog holes for fun. Worried for their safety, he crafted the cornhole board, replacing groundhog holes with wooden boxes with round holes and stones with bags filled with dried corn.

Because of its simplicity, the game hasn’t evolved much. These days, the corn-filled bags are sometimes replaced with plastic and resin beads. But some die-hard cornhole enthusiasts insist on using real corn kernels.  

Players in the United States even compete at state and national levels. And now, there are efforts to make the cornhole game an Olympic sport

You can build a cornhole board for your backyard. The process is simple, but it might require a few specialty tools if you don’t already have them on hand!


Whether you’re passing time in the backyard or competing for bragging rights, the cornhole game is a fun activity for all ages.

Building Your Own Cornhole Board

Materials

  • (2) 2-by-4-foot by ½-inch plywood
  • (4) 2-by-4 studs
  • (4) 3/8 by 4-inch carriage bolts
  • (8) 3/8-inch washers
  • (4) 3/8-inch nuts
  • (16) 3-inch wood screws
  • (24) 1-½-inch wood screws
  • Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue
  • Drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 6-inch hole saw
  • Miter or circular saw
  • Carpenter square
  • Tape measure
  • Sander and/or sandpaper
  • Exterior paint or wood stain and spar varnish

Hands holding a pencil and a carpenter square on top of a piece of wood.
Use a carpenter square to get accurate angles for your cornhole game’s leg pieces.

Cut the Cornhole Board’s Wood Pieces

Using a carpenter or speed square, mark 25 degrees and cut along that angle. Then mark a straight line 12-and-1/4 inches from the angle’s long side. Repeat this three more times to create your boards’ legs.

For the frames, you’ll need four straight cuts at 21 inches and four straight cuts at 48 inches.

Edge of a piece of wood cut at 45 degree angles.
The 45-degree cuts on the leg pieces will make them easier to fold

Now back to your leg pieces. You need to cut them on the square side to make them easier to fold and unfold. Mark 1 inch in from each side and 1 inch down on each side. Connect those marks with a straight edge to draw a 45-degree angle on each corner. Cut the two triangles on each leg.


Assembling a wood rectangle.
Lay your cornhole game frame on a waist-high table for easy drilling.

Assemble the Frame

To mark the hole for the legs to attach to your frame, measure 1 and 3/4 inches from one side and 1 and 3/4 inches from the short end. Drill all the way through with a 3/8-inch drill bit. Then set aside.

Drilling in a a screw to a piece of wood clamped down on a table next to Titebond III Ultimate wood glue.
Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue will keep your frame in place and add some waterproofing to your cornhole game.

To lay out your frames, lay two 48-inch pieces parallel to one another and set the 21-inch pieces at the ends, between them. Apply a bead of wood glue rated for exterior use, like Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, and attach the pieces together with 3-inch screws.

Apply more wood glue around the top of your new frame, and set the 2-by-4 sheet of plywood in place. Attach it with 1-and-1/2-inch screws through the plywood into the frame below.

To create the hole for the bean bags, mark 9 inches from one end, then measure and mark the center of the board near that 9-inch mark. 

Using a 6-inch hole saw, cut a hole with your mark at the center. A hole saw this large can be a little tricky, so take your time!

Flip the board over to attach the legs.


Drilling a leg onto the underside of a cornhole game board.
Folding legs will save storage space.

Attach the Legs

On the end of your board with the hole, set your legs in either corner with the longer part of the angle on top. Clamp the leg half an inch from the end and use the existing hole in the leg to drill a 3/8-inch hole through the frame. Then sand the ends of the legs to round the cut angles.

Next, slide a carriage bolt through the hole from the outside, then one washer, a wood leg, another washer and finally the nut. Hand tighten.

Repeat as necessary until both of your cornhole boards are assembled!


A stained cornhole board game with red and blue bags.
Stain your cornhole game for a finished look or customize it by painting it with your team colors.

Add the Finishing Touches

No matter which finish you choose for your boards, first sand them thoroughly

Start with 150- or 180-grit sandpaper. Once you’ve sanded all of the surfaces, step it up to a 220- or 300-grit sandpaper to create that smooth, slick surface that’s synonymous with cornhole boards!

Gloved hand applying stain to a cornhole game board.

Staining: In long, even strokes rub your wood stain with the grain of the wood. Follow with a clean rag to wipe up the excess stain. Once it has dried for a few hours, start applying a clear topcoat, like spar varnish, that is safe for outdoor use.

Let the coat completely dry before sanding with 220-grit sandpaper, wiping clean and applying another clear coat. Repeat for a third time.

Painting: If you’re choosing to paint your boards, select an exterior semi-gloss paint and make sure your design covers all the wood on the top so the surface will be appropriately slick. Several coats might be required.

Once your topcoat or paint is dry, you’re ready to start keeping score! 

To get your backyard ready for more summer fun, add some hanging string lights. Use planters or shepherd’s hooks to keep the good times going past sundown.


Further Reading



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