Did-It-Myself Custom, Made-from-Scratch Corn Hole Boards

February 13, 2013

DIY Custom Cornhole Boards by Hey It's SJ
It's hard to imagine a tailgate, cookout, or any summer gathering without yard games, and cornhole is easily my favorite. When one of my good friends told me he was moving into a new house, I knew a set of alma mater-themed cornhole boards would make the perfect housewarming gift. Here's how I made a completely custom set of boards and bags:

Step One: Decide on a Design

This was the easiest part of the whole process for me. My friend loves basketball, and he loves UNC Asheville. And since I had already painted him a basketball court "party" table, I knew a similar design would look awesome and he would love it.
Sketch of DIY Custom Cornhole Boards
As you can see, I didn't spend a lot of time on sketching.
As for the construction of the boards themselves, I searched the interwebs for a set of plans and there are a lot of good ones out there! I ended up reading through several and just taking bits and pieces from each that worked best with my (limited) skill set and access to tools. It would have been a lot easier to just buy a set of unfinished boards, but that's not as much fun or as fulfilling. This way I can truthfully say these boards were made-from-scratch.

Step Two: Gather Materials

After I assembled a list of materials I needed to make and paint the boards, I got to my second favorite part of the process--shopping!

Ichi accompanied me on a trip to the Home Depot where we picked up the lumber, screws and other hardware, along with some primer and protective sealant.
Ichi the Pug shopping at Home Depot

Step Three: Build the Boards

When we got home, it was time to get to work. My mom's boyfriend taught me how to use the miter saw, and with a lot of help from him, I had two homemade corn hole boards by the end of the day.
Cutting wood using the miter saw
Somehow I still have all my fingers and toes!
After all the measuring, cutting, and drilling was done, I covered all the screw heads with wood filler and then gave the whole board a good sanding, paying careful attention that the top of each board was exceptionally smooth.

Step Four: Prime & Paint

Now I was ready for my favorite (and the most time consuming) part of the process, painting. First, each board got two coats of Kilz 2 Latex Primer, then it was time to create the basketball court design.
Border and wood grain technique on DIY Custom Cornhole Boards
I used regular acrylic craft paint for the top of the boards. For the "wood" part I used a technique that I first used on a table I painted (which I also plan to do a post on eventually). To achieve this look, I painted the entire area with a light sandy color. Then with a large, dry brush, I applied a darker sienna brown color to a small area and then wiped away the excess with a paper towel until I got something that looks similar to wood grain. I repeated this process until the entire area had a wood-like finish.

Next I added all the details that make it a basketball court--three point line, free throw line and free throw lane, center circle, etc. I also added some school and conference logos to personalize it.
Basketball court design on DIY Custom Cornhole Boards
I duplicated the same process for the second board, just switching out the logos. In all, I would say I probably spent at least 50 hours on just the painting. I wanted these to be perfect and there was quite a bit of detail work, but in the end every second was worth it.
Basketball court design on DIY Custom Cornhole Boards

Step Five: Protect & Seal

Almost finished! The base of the boards got painted with black latex paint in a gloss finish, and the top got a minimum of 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish. This finish is water-based so it's easy to clean up and it won't yellow over time like polyurethane; however, it's not really meant for outdoor use, so the boards should be stored inside. After I was satisfied with the coverage and smoothness of the protective finish, all that was left to do was wait for them to dry!

Step Six: Make Some Bags

A set of custom corn hole boards this awesome deserves a set of corn hole bags as equally cool. Check out how I made my own custom cornhole bags!

Step Seven: ENJOY!

After all the paint was dry and the bags were made I finally got to see the entire set together, and I must say I am pretty pleased with how they turned out.
Close up of finished DIY boards and bags
Close up of finished DIY boards and bags
Both finished DIY cornhole boards and bags
I apologize for the quality of the pictures. Once I was finally finished with everything, it was dark and pouring down rain. And the next day when I drove to meet the owner of these wonderful boards, it poured down rain the entire way. Needless to say, there was never an opportunity to take better pictures, so the ones on the kitchen floor will have to do. But the boards and bags are being put to good use at their new home!
DIY Cornhole boards and bags in use