Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DIY Cornhole Bag-Toss Board



People call it bag toss, cornhole toss, soft shoes, corn bags, bean bags, bean bag toss, bean bag game, hillbilly horseshoes, or just bags. What ever you want to call it, Cornhole is one of the fastest growing backyard games in America today. BetterArts is running the kids' room at this weekend's North Country Goes Green Irish Festival at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown, so we set about making our very own custom cornhole board for all the excitement. Want one? Here are simple, step-by-step instructions so you can be the star of backyard parties this spring, summer, fall, or whenever.

DIY Cornhole Supply List:
  • 1 - 4' X 8' Piece of Plywood (pre sanded)
  • 4 - 2" X 4" X 8' Studs (2 by 4s make sure they are not warped or twisted)
  • 1 - Pack of Deck Screws ( 3-1/2" stainless steel square tip head)
  • 1 - Pack of Deck Screws (1-1/2" stainless steel square tip head)
  • 4 - 4" X 1/2" Bolts & Lock Nuts (stainless steel with washers)
  • Hammer
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular Saw
  • Drill (with square tip bit that should come with the screws)
  • 2 - Drill Bits (1/4" and 1/2")
  • Pencil
  • String
  • Measuring Tape
  • Fine Sand Paper (80-120 grit)
  • 1 - Bottle of wood glue (optional)
The Fine Print:
Corn Hole Plan Layout


Making The Plywood Cuts:  Start by making sure your plywood is square at the corners. You want to start at one end of the plywood and measure over 24 inches. You must measure each cut separate in order to avoid losing 1/16 of an inch due to the thickness of the circular saw blade. NOTE: Measure only one piece at a time starting with the first piece. Only measure for the next piece after you have cut the previous piece.
Cornhole Board Plywood Layout 
Make The 2" X 4" X 8' Cuts: Start with measuring from one end and make the first cut. Then measure the second cut and repeat the process. You should end up with 4 Pieces 4' long, 4 pieces 21" long, and 4 Pieces 11-1/2" long.
Cornhole Board Leg and Frame Layout

BetterArts Director Scott Smith makes the legs for the cornhole board.
Forming The Legs: Take the four 11-1/2" pieces and measure 1-3/4" from the end and center your mark. Place a deck screw in the center of your mark and tie a pencil to the string with the tip of the pencil at the end of the board. The string should measure approximately 1-3/4" long when tied. Now mark your round cut. Your going to remove both corners with a saw. You can round the edges with sand paper if you want them smooth. Pull out the deck screw and drill a 1/2" hole through each leg.
Cornhole Board Legs


Building the Frame and Deck: Note: You may want to drill out a 1/4" pilot hole before you put the frame together. This will help avoid the studs from splitting. Start with your 2" X 4" X 4' and place a 21" front and back underneath at a 90 degree angle flush with each of the ends. Insert two deck screws approximately 1-1/4" from the end and side as shown in the diagram below. Once you have completed the rectangles, place them a flat surface and mount the 2' X 4' plywood top on the frame. Make sure to start at one corner and make it flush, then insert a 1-1/2" deck screw. Then make the next corner flush with the edge of the 2' X 4' and insert a deck screw.  Once you have aligned the corners continue making the sides and bottoms flush at the edges insert the remaining deck screws.
Corn Hole Board Layout

Cutting the Hole in the Decks: Start at one end of the board and measure 9" from the end to the center of the board at 12". Place a deck screw in the center mark. Take your string and pencil and measure out 3". Keeping the string extended circle around the deck screw. If you have a ruler or paint stir stick you can drill two holes 3" apart. Place the deck screw in one hole and the pencil tip in the second hole and proceed to circle around the deck screw. Drill a hole inside the circle to allow your jigsaw blade to penetrate the deck. Carefully cut out the hole.
Cornhole Board Holes
Handywork of yours truly.

Mounting the Legs: Lay your deck upside down on a flat surface. Place the leg one leg in the corner as shown below. Measure 1" from the end of the leg to the inside end of the board. This will allow a small space for easy swivel. You can drill from the inside of the board through the hole in the leg. Run the drill about a 1/4" into the side stud and check for swivel range on the leg. Once satisfied continue drill through the side stud. Place the 4" bolt from the outside in and put a washer and nut on the inside. Tighten the nut until the leg becomes stiff to move.
Cornhole Board Legs
Image from Cornholesupplies.com.
Cornhole Boards Leg Mount

Finishing Touches: Once you get the legs mounted you can flip the boards upright with the legs in the open position and place them on a flat surface. Measure the back of the boards you will notice it is a bit higher than 12" (hopefully not lower or you'll have to remount the legs). Here is where you fine tune your legs to be as flat as possible to the ground while making the back of the board 12" even across. Take a sander or some sand paper and shave the bottom of the leg until you are satisfied with the height. You can also apply a coat of primer and paint the boards as you wish.


Primed.
Only one thing left to do... sew your cornhole bags. Here are some great instructions from Cornhole How-To:

SEWING YOUR OWN CORNHOLE BAGS

1 tn How to Sew To prevent mass confusion and a potential riot at your cornhole bags’ debut, you will want to have two different colors of fabric in order to keep teams’ progress straight. Themes like college or pro sports are typically popular choices here. Whatever your color scheme of choice, try to pick out sturdy-looking duck cloth that is as blemish-free as possible.

Since the fabric is pretty cheap, get a couple extra inches so you cansquare the cuts up at home for yourself.Give any loose ends a little trim in order to square things up.

4 tn How to Sew
Having been trimmed satisfactorily by either you or the fabric counter, your hunk of duck cloth will probably be a long strip 7” wide by 56” long. Now all you need to do is make the squares for each bag by cutting every 7 inches. Using the right tools can make things much more accurate and often more convenient. The rolling blade, a gridded cutting mat and a plastic cutting guide really make all this trimming simple, but if you don’t have any of these, a good ruler, a pencil, and some sharp scissors will do the trick.

7 tn How to SewBy this point, there should be eight squares of duck cloth, 7 inches by 7 inches, just sitting there on your workspace, practically begging to be sewn up into four bags and stuffed with feed corn. Before plowing ahead, however, this is probably a good time to repeat the previous steps for second team’s color. In the end of this trimming phase, you should have sixteen total squares of duck cloth: eight of one color, eight of another.

Place two squares of the same color together so that their edges line up exactly; since the fabric is identical on both sides, it shouldn’t matter which side is up unless you want to decorate the outside with an iron-on logo. (If you do have an iron-on or something like that, it’s probably wise to put it on now according to manufacturer’s directions. Go ahead and put it on the inside since we will soon be turning the sewn bags inside-out.) Each seam should be 1/2 inch in from the edge, as shown in the picture. If have a fancy sewing machine like my mother-in-law’s, then you can actually set it to double-stitch all at once. Those with the no-frills model will need to sew a side completely, then repeat again on the same side right next to the first seam in order to get the double-stitch. Either way, the punishing abuse that cornhole bags take requires more than a single stitch. Got an itch to triple-stitch? Why not? Whatever your decision, be sure to back-stitch at all the corners to prevent the thread from unraveling.

Sew as indicated above for three of the four sides, but be sure to LEAVE ONE SIDE OPEN. You’ll need a hole for getting the corn into the bag. One smart move might also be to trim the corners a little. This will reduce the amount of excess fabric that gets crammed into the corners once you turn the bag inside-out.

10 tn How to SewImagine your embarassment when, after bragging all afternoon to your buddies about your sewing skills, one of your new cornhole bags bursts a seam. We want to do everything in our power to prevent this awkward event. There are no guarentees, of course, but a little bit of fabric glue along the inside of those seams might help ease your mind on this subject. It probably can’t hurt in any case, but it’s an optional safety precaution that the risk-acceptant can skip.

Finally, turn the bag inside-out. Sharp corners are difficult to acheive given the stiffness of the fabric, but you can improve the look of the corners by pushing on the from the inside with a pencil, pen, etc. You’ll notice that once turned out, the bag is now the regulation 6 inches in width.
12 tn How to Sew 
Measure out the corn you’ll need. Each bag should weigh between 14.5 to 16 oz. once filled. The material weighs about .5 oz per bag, so add 15.5 oz feed corn to each bag to make it one pound in total (spoiler alert: at Better Farm, we used dried soybeans instead of corn). As you play, the corn will break up, and your bags will actually lose a bit of weight in the form of dust, so you might want to make it on the heavy end of the acceptable range just to be safe. For this step, you can’t beat a digital baking scale, accurate to 1/8 oz., but if that’s not an option, 2 cups of corn comes pretty close to regulation. If you cannot abide that type of guess-work — good for you!–get the feed store to separate your order in eight individual bags of one pound each at the time of purchase. After all, for the 35 cents you paid for each of those pounds, you deserve some customer service.

Fold the open ends of the filled bag inward to a depth of 1/2 inch to match the rest of the seams you’ve already sewn. A well-placed sewing pin helped to hold the sides closed, and, in order to keep the folds from slipping once under the needle and for overall strength, apply some of the fabric glue to last, soon-to-be-sewn seam.

14 tn How to SewPinning the corn bag as shown in the picture helped keep the fabric flat and out of the way of the sewing foot—and will keep the corn from getting in your way. Placing your stitches as close to the edge as possible will give the bags a nice look. Do not forget to double-stitch here, too.

If you decide to buy bags, add a little spice by finding some with logos of your favorite sports team, customized with your initials, etc. You can even get a hold of some that glow in the dark. (Learn more about making your cornhole set night-time friendly in this e-book.)

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