How to Not Cheat Your Husband.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Or:  let's build a DIY bags (aka cornhole) game set.

homemade DIY corn hole bean toss side
One of two, rarin' to go on Block Party Day!
When Mike and I first met, we played many a game of bags.  Even though I had a.) never heard of it prior, and b.) therefore had never played prior.  Though I am not sporting/competitive, I tended to beat Mike with great regularity, oddly.  He was cool about it and married me anyway.

We'd even play the bags part on the Silver Strike arcade game. That I sucked at.  (The bowling part?  Yeah, AWwwesome at!)

And what else weird, those darn games brought out a minor latent competitive streak I did not know I had.  Heh.  

Flash forward all these years of non-bag playing when we're hangin' around, not even sure what we're doing when Mike says, "ah, ya know what'd be great to have at the block party? Bags."

"Huh," I say, feeling the bubble up of competition, "yeah, that'd be fun so we're not awkwardly staring at our neighbors all day."

"Ok, so when you build the set, give it a Cubs/Sox theme."

And bam, he sneakily volunteers me into the task.  Seems to have been the running theme of the block party.

As an aside, it actually is amazing that Mike the Cubs fan married me the Sox fan.  He jokes (I think it's joking) had he known before he fell hook line and sinker for me that I was a Sox fan, he woulda dumped me.  Heh, the rivalry man, it's harsh.

Anywhoooo, despite my lengthy list o' to-do's that week, I squeaked it in somehow, just barely.

It's not solidly regulation but it is very near spot on.

When I started assembling the set, I had several moments of panic because I know my dearest husband all to well:

"Hey, you probably cut the hole too small."  Or..."you weighted the bags differently, didn't you?!"  Or..."surely you didn't make that the right height."  Or..."I'm sure you did something sneaky."  All phrases or variations thereof I'd hear if I were kicking his a**.

As such, I had to be super careful building this entire set.  And I must say, either it was the fear of snarky comments or maybe I'm getting better at this whole carpentry shebang, but darn if I'm getting better at this carpentry thing!  A wee back pat, if I may, at one of my finest carpentry jobs yet, *blush.*  Roar!

My main supplies totaled in the neighborhood of thirty, thirty five bucks:

  • two pieces 2'x4' plywood, 1/2" thick
  • two pieces 1 x 4 x 8'  (sides)
  • one piece 2 x 4 x 8' (legs)
  • four 5/16" x 3 1/2" carriage bolts
  • four 5/16" wing nuts
  • four 5/16" washers
  • half pint of water based semi-gloss polyurethane*
  • two 64 oz. bags o' pinto beans

Stuff I had around:

Of course there are a bazillion and fifty tutorials out there on the interwebs for you to peruse.  I scanned a few for guidance of course, and I'll provide those links as I go.  The DIY Network one was one I followed the most.  I think.

wood plywood supplies
Hey look, it's wood!
Anyway, I purchased pre-cut pieces of plywood as a.) time was at a minimum, b.) ain't no table/circular saw in this house, c.) it's already cut.  Sure it was a little pricier but hey, this was one moment when throwing money at a project made way more sense.

I cut the 1x4 into two pieces of four feet, two pieces of 22.5".  Measure twice, cut once, right?!  Sliced and diced with my oooh-so-fabulous miter saw that I love ooooh-so-much.

Apologies for the lack of photos...I was in a huge rush as the block party was the very next day.  So, check the tutorials if you need more visuals.

Next, butt a short piece into a long piece, pilot drill some holes, add a dab or two of Gorilla glue, and attach together with the drywall screws.  Continue around.

I advise the glue if you go the 1x route for sure, makes it sturdier.  Especially since these take a pounding with the bags.

corn hole bean toss wood framing base

You end up with a spiffy frame like so.

corn hole bean toss plywood surface top

Lay the plywood on top of your fancy pants frame, line it up, get out that countersink bit and pre-drill a bunch o' holes through the plywood into the frame.

countersink sink drill bit
Yes, I broke four drill bits doing this.  Yes, I ended up using a masonry bit.  Heh.
Now, indeed, a countersink is vital here as the finished surface has to be smooth as a baby's butt.  They're cheap enough.  The bit, not the butt.  Oy, ok, moving on....

Flip the ply up, squirt out a thin thin bead of glue onto the frame, lay the ply back down, attach with the drywall screws.

Bam!  Cool!  Yes, I did clap at this juncture.

Ok, next is the all important hole.

tracing a large round circle on plywood

Measure in 12" from the sides (aka center) and then 9" down from the top.  Mark it.  Dig up your dusty compass last used in grade school and draw a sweet 6" diameter circle.  Or, use something that's going to give you a perfect 6" circle.

starter hole drilled out to cut out plywood circle

Pilot through a nice healthy start and begin cutting out the circle with a jigsaw.

jigsaw cutting out hole for bean toss

I discovered on this project that this saw is a piece of poop unfortunately.  The flat side there just will not stay still.  Keeps tilting.  Couldn't find a lock to keep it flat.  Sad.  My previous saw, a Bosch 1582vs, the saw of my dreams, was stolen out of our garage many a year ago.  Sigh.  I miss it.  Yes, to this day.  It was that good.

Anywhoooo.....go slow cutting the hole as the radius is tight enough that it's easy to go awry.  Slow and steady wins the race here.

Next:  putty the screw holes.  Have your assistant check your work.

Finn popping by for a visit

Once that's all done, it's time for the legs.  Now.  Here's the part that took the longest and was the biggest struggle for me.  I checked lots of sites like This Old House, this guy's, and this guy's Instructable, but in the end nothing seemed to work quite right for unknown reasons, I was wasting wood and time.  I opted to forge my own path through a combination of ideas.

Goal:  have the legs fold up into itself for storage.
Bad:  no real photos to share.  Sorry.  Hang with me here, hopefully you'll follow.

prepping 2x4 legs for corn hole bean toss

I tried the "cut the 2x on 30 degree angles" plan from the Instructable and it didn't work for me.  :(  Maybe I missed a step in my speed reading.

attaching folding legs

So what I did was set the thing up on my workbench to the regulation height of 12" to the surface (the hole side is raised), clamp a piece of ±14" of 2x into the corner, drilled my 5/16" hole in the center of the 2x, marked the angle on the leg to trim for height (see all those tutorials on that -- use the edge of your table as your angle finding/marking guide with the leg overhanging), trimmed the leg.

What I ended up doing, and I'm sure it's totally wrong, is I measured a half inch up from the edge of the 5/16" hole towards the short end of the leg, used one a' those red plastic cups, traced a half circle line then trimmed the 2x top to have a curve, hoping the legs would then fold up all nice and neat.

It worked on one but not the other.  I had drilled the holes on one a different way first, probably why.  Hope I'm not confusing the daylights out of you with the shortage of photos.  Again, the linked tutorials have plenty of helpful pictures.  Unlike me.

I made each leg individually so as to not screw the whole thing up.  Remember:  do not to cheat my sweetheart -- see above... ("hey these legs are messed up!  Figures!" he'd say)

Whew.  So that took longer than I anticipated.

After the legs were done I took a deep breath.  Time to paint.

Give the whole face of the ply and the circle cut out a good sanding, ease the ply edges.  I finally got to use the sander from the big pallet wood floor contest win!  Sweet!  And it was freakin' awesome too.

sanding plywood smooth
Sander!!  Yay!!!
I did a super simple triangle effect with painters tape.  Painted one side white, the other in black or the light blue.  Pulled the tape and there was a nice neat and tidy line of unpainted ply for added schmancy, looks-like-I-spent-a-long-time look.

bean toss bags cubs and white sox representative custom paint
Mike thinks this is such a cool look.  I think he's right.
Seal with semi-gloss water based polyurethane, two coats.  Although.  Later.  Playing.  We discover the semi-gloss is well, pretty slickery, so semi-gloss,'s up to you.

Next up are the bags themselves.  I dug through my collection of random fabric and opted for moderately heavy weight houndstooth patterned stuff for the Sox and the same outdoor chair fabric I used for Hailey's paw print for the Cubs.  Heavy strong fabric is key since these take a monstrous beating.

bags bean toss corn hole fabric bags ready to sew

If you go without a fold, cut the squares at 7".  If you use a fold like I did, the one side across from the fold is at 6.5".  Leaving a half inch edge to get perfect 6" square bags, stitch these puppies up, flip 'em inside out, and fill them evenly so they all weigh the same (no cheating!  I totally think Mike checked each bag to make sure too, heh.).  I used those same red plastic cups and measured out about ±16 oz. of beans per bag, not sure, but the cups were all filled evenly.

Stitch 'em up tight and it's game time.  Woo hoo!

Mike was so pleased.  He loves them.  He was so excited.  Awwww!  Right?!  They were such a hit at the party too.  Kids were all over them.  Literally even, like walking and crawling all over them.  One bag had a minor blow out but a neighbor took the time to, heh, staple the bag shut.  Beans everywhere.  Very funny.

Anyway, now Mike has his own bag set and he's happy as a clam.

But check this out....

carpentry details of corn hole bean toss bags game

Look at that construction!  I know I know, but for me this is incredibly impressive.

Oh!  Right!  Who won?, you ask.  Well, we played teams a couple times and I had to carry my teammate, despite being rusty.  Ahem.  (Love ya babe!)

*The water based polyurethane, Gorilla glue, Durham's Wood Putty, and countersink bits are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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