How to Build Regulation Cornhole Set

While the pandemic has certainly curtailed many social activities and trapped people in their homes for weeks, even months, almost everyone has heard of the game of “cornhole.” Over the past few years it has taken backyards, playgrounds, recreation centers, campgrounds, and beaches by storm.

But just in case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about cornhole, here’s a quick summary of the game, according to the American Cornhole Organization (ACO – yes, there is such a thing): 

“Cornhole or Corn Toss is similar to horseshoes except you use 2 wooden boxes called cornhole platforms or boards and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. The boards are placed 27 feet apart, from front edge to front edge. Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the cornhole platform until a contestant reaches the score of 21 points. A corn bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point. Scoring can be fast and the lead may change hands several times in a match before the winner is decided. The game is generally played tournament style with an individual or team being named the champion at the end of the tournament.” 

The game has become so popular, it might be hard to find a game set to buy. Fortunately, we’re going to share instructions for building your own so you can be the neighborhood hero. You’ll first need a few materials: 

  • (2) 24″ x 48″ pieces of 1/2″ plywood for the surface
  • (4) 2×4 x 48″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 21″ for the frame
  • (4) 2×4 x 11-1/2″ for the legs
  • 1-lb. box of 1-5/8″ deck screws
  • 1-lb. box of 3″ deck screws
  • (4) 1/2″ x 4″ carriage bolts with (4) washers and (4) wing nuts
  • wood putty
  • exterior-grade paint
  • primer 

You’ll also need some tools: 

  • jigsaw
  • measuring tape
  • compass
  • drill with drill bit and Phillips-head screw bit
  • 1/2″ drill bit
  • clamps
  • circular saw
  • random orbit sander
  • paint roller 

The ACO states that platforms must be a 48″ x 24″ rectangle made from 1/2-inch plywood. The front of the platform stands 2-1/2 to 4 inches tall and the back of the platform sits 12 inches off the ground. The plans for this project follow those requirements. 

Now you’re ready to begin building: 

  1. Construct the platforms

Cut the plywood into two 2’ x 4’ sections and the 2x4s to the length specified. Use 3″ screws to fasten the 2x4s into a box with the 21-inch pieces inside the 48-inch pieces to form a 2’ x 4’ box. Lay the plywood on top of the box, use the plywood to square up the 2×4 frame. Fasten the plywood onto the frame with 1-5/8” screws. 

  1. Cut and fit the legs

Cut a 2×4 to 11-1/2” for the four legs. Make a full 3-1/2″ radius cut on one end of each leg. To make the cut, measure 1-3/4″ down the length of the 2×4 and draw a line across it. Place a compass point centered on that line then draw the arc. Use a jigsaw to make the cut. Turn the box upside down; lay a leg parallel, flush up against one of the top corners with the radius side in the corner. Clamp into place. From inside the box, mark the center of the 2×4 vertically inside the radius. Drill a 1/2″ hole through the side of the box and the support leg. 

  1. Attach the legs

Install the carriage bolt through both holes and attach with a washer and a wing nut. Check for operation — see if the legs fold up and down inside of the platform. Adjust the radius top if it makes contact anywhere (use a sander to do this). 

  1. Cut the leg ends

To cut the angle on the bottom of the leg, turn the box right-side up and set it on a worktable with the legs tucked under. Place a block (or anything that will hold it up) under the box so that the back of the platform is 12 inches off the tabletop. Slide the box to the edge of the table, pull down the leg closest to the edge so that it hangs just over the table edge. Using the tabletop as a guide, draw a straight line across the bottom of the 2×4. Repeat for the opposite side. Cut the ends off using a circular saw. 

  1. Cut the cornholes

To find the center point for the hole, mark 9″ down from the top and 12″ in from each side on both platforms. Use a compass to mark a 6″ diameter circle around the spot that you marked. Pre-drill a hole along the edge of the circle large enough to accept the jigsaw blade. Remove the drill and use a jigsaw to cut out the circle. Sand the edges of the hole smooth. 

  1. Sand and paint

Sand the entire board and around all edges, including inside the circle. Putty all screw holes. Prime the entire box and re-sand when dry. Wipe clean with light, damp cloth, and paint with an exterior-grade paint (we used a high-gloss). Decorate to your liking — we painted standard triangles on our boards from the hole down to both corners. To do this, stretch blue painter’s tape in the shape you want, and paint the desired area. 

  1. Make your bags

To make the cornhole beanbags, sew four 6-inch by 6-inch bags from durable fabric — such as duck canvas — in the color of your choice. Then sew another four bags in a contrasting color. Fill each bag with 15 to 16 ounces of hard corn kernels or a synthetic substitute of roughly the same density. Then sew the open seams closed. 

There, you’re all done! You’re now ready to play cornhole with family and friends. Have fun!