cornhole board, legs

How to Make Cornhole Boards

Cornhole, or Bean Bag Toss has been around in one form or another, since the mid 1800s. Through the years the game has changed some, with variations in the size of the target or cornhole board and the material used for making the beanbags or cornbags. The “official” version of cornhole began to gain in popularity from a 1974 article by Popular Mechanics magazine.

The name cornhole came about because the bags are filled with 15 to 16 ounces dried corn kernels, rather than the more commonly-known beans. Cornbags measure six inches square and are double stitched around the edges. Each player or team needs four bags and the teams should always use different colored bags to avoid confusion.

Regulation Cornhole Set

Cornhole is actually a regulated game, even though it is more of a yard game for picnics, than anything else. Specific rules for scoring exist, although there are also alternate scoring rules, including the use of cancellation scoring (where matching tosses from both teams are not scored) and a two-point rule, allowing for two points to be scored for bags that end up partially in the hole, without falling through.

A regulation cornhole set consists of two cornhole boards and eight corn filled bags. The boards are identical, but the bags should be different colors. The boards are placed with the holes placed 33 feet apart, or 27 feet between the bottom end of the boards. There is a pitcher’s box on either side of the board, with the front edge of the board forming the foul line.

Dimensions for the Cornhole Board

While the simpler game of bean bag toss can use almost anything as a target, cornhole boards are very specific in their dimensions, angle and the size of the target hole. The top of the cornhole board must measure 24” x 48”, with a 6” hole, centered below the top edge. Supports hold the bottom (near) end of the board 3” to 4” off the ground, while the far end is always 12” off the ground. Owners tend to paint their boards in distinctive colors and patterns.

cornhole board, dimensions
Cornhole board dimensions

Building the Cornhole Boards

The cornhole board is made from ½” plywood and 2”x 4” dimensional lumber. The plywood needs to be smooth on the top side, but can be rough on the backside. If you use construction grade plywood, you will need to fill, smooth and sand the top surface, before painting. As an alternate to save work, you could buy sanded plywood, which will already be smooth. Cut the following pieces:

  • ⦁ 2 pieces – ½” thick plywood – 24” x 48” for top
  • ⦁ 4 pieces – 2”x 4” – 48” long for frame
  • ⦁ 4 pieces – 2”x 4” – 21” long for frame
  • ⦁ 4 pieces – 2”x 4” – 14” long for legs

The tops each need one hold cut through them, as per the dimensions in the diagram above. Unless you happen to have a 6” hole saw, this means cutting the hole with a jigsaw. If you have trouble cutting that neat a circle with a hole saw (I do), then cut the hole slightly smaller and smooth the edges out with a drum file or drum sander attached to a drill.

Before attaching the frame to the back of the plywood, you need to drill 3/8” holes for the leg hardware, as per the drawing below. Note that the dimensions are somewhat critical, especially the dimension from the end of the board.

cornhole board, framing
Cornhole board framing

With the parts cut and the holes drilled, attach the frame to the plywood, framing it all the way around the edges. Be sure to make the frame flush with the edge of the plywood, so that there is adequate clearance for the legs.

It is best to nail the corners of the 2”x 4” frame together, with 16d nails, rather than screwing them together. Screws don’t work well, when going into end grain. Rather, they tend to break the wood fibers and will eventually loosen. Nails work by compression, so are less likely to pull out of the wood. if you are concerned about appearance, you can use finish nails, rather than standard box nails.

You can attach the frame to the plywood with either screws or nails, as you prefer. Either way, I would recommend gluing the pieces as well. If you use screws, drill and countersink through the plywood, so as to ensure that the screw heads are below flush with the surface of the plywood. Fill the countersinks with wood putty, once assembled, and sand flush with the plywood surface.

Cutting and Attaching Legs

The legs of the cornhole board are important, as they hold the top end of the board at the precise 12” height above the ground. For this reason, it is important that you cut your legs accurately.

cornhole board, legs
Cornhole board legs

The dimensions in the drawing above are exact dimensions. However, I recognize the difficulty in measuring and cutting those dimensions and angles. That’s why I had you cut the 2”x 4” pieces for the legs too long. Rather than try to apply those dimensions, drill the mounting hole and cut the full radius at the top end of the board. Then temporarily attach the board to the cornhole board’s frame, using 3/8” x 3 ½” long carriage bolts. Support the cornhole board so that the top edge is exactly 12” above the benchtop and the frame at the bottom end sitting on the bench, with the legs dangling off the edge. You can then scribe the cut line for the angle at the bottom of the legs.

Notice that the mounting hole is very slightly off center (about 3/64”). This is to allow clearance between the radius cut on the end of the legs and the inside of the cornhole’s frame and top. If you have a problem with it rubbing, simply sand off a little more material, so that it turns smoothly.

Attach the legs to the cornhole board with 3 ½” carriage bolts from the outside; using 3/8” nylon lock nuts and fender washers on the inside. This will allow you to tighten the nuts just enough to provide some resistance to the legs swinging open on their own, without having to worry about the nuts coming loose.

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