Ohio/Michigan Custom Cornhole Set

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State outlinesMatt and I are both from the Midwest, the cornhole capital of the country. Those of you who grew up outside of the agricultural plains or didn’t meander there for college may not know that cornhole is a fancy term for “wooden bean bag game played fervently on Midwestern college campuses.” (Really, I would say this largely originates in Ohio and has moved outward in concentric circles, but hey, whatever)

We’ve been working hard to get our backyard in shape, and we have our eyes set on the prize: the Backyard Birthday Bash, coming later this year. So, I really wanted to give Matt a cornhole set as a gift, which we will use both to satiate our intense competitive natures and to annoy our neighbors with the sound of pounding beanbags until well after the sun goes down.

But upon investigation, I discovered that these little gems are expensive. So what did I do?

I called my dad. Obv. Actually, I sent him a one line email with a link to instructions for making a set and asked him if he’d be up for it.

One month later, I drive Matt out to the UPS warehouse on a secret mission to pick up his gift. He has no idea what is coming, and when they bring it out, it is wrapped, it is huge, and it is heavy. I ask Matt if he has any idea what it is, but he says he doesn’t know what it could be. I amĀ so delighted, and eventually Matt was, too, when he unwrapped it. Good job, Dad.

It lay unpainted in our backyard for weeks while I sorted through options to get the outline of Ohio and Michigan onto these boards, but unable to come up with anything, I decided to freehand it. Ohio is nearly square in shape, and I’ve been looking at the outline of Ohio my entire life, so drawing that outline was easy as pie. Michigan… struggle bus. You can observe, by my many eraser marks and redraws, that I had a tough time getting the outline of Michigan drawn correctly. It still is a little misshapen (Detroit area) but it works.

photo 3To bring cornhole to your backyard, follow these project steps:

  1. Make the cornhole set… or ask your dad (instructions that I sent my dad are here)
  2. Sand down the top of the cornhole set and edges to eliminate splinter possibility (used orbital sander and 120 grit sandpaper)
  3. Vigorously wipe down the cornhole set to remove particles with a damp rag (used water/bleach solution)
  4. Pull up state outlines on Google images and study intensely
  5. Draw a square (Ohio) /rectangle (Michigan) onto the board with pencil at the outermost edges
  6. Determine where the state outlines meet the rectangle and then outline in the negative space
  7. Carefully paint around state outlines starting from the top of the board and working toward the bottom (I re-used the Rustoleum black paint and a disposable sponge brush from the clawfoot tub project) and paint all edges, screws, etc. to seal off from water
  8. Let it dry at least 24 hours
  9. Use a wood conditioner on the unpainted part of the board so it receives stain evenly
  10. Let dry for 30-60 minutes
  11. Stain the unpainted part of the board (Repeat until you achieve your desired color)
  12. Allow to dry for 60 minutes minimum
  13. Wipe down again to ensure no dust or particles are on the top
  14. Using a sponge brush and clear marine varnish, paint across the top of the board (strokes should go in only one direction)
  15. Allow to dry for 24 hours
  16. Use fine sand paper, gently sand the top to smooth the finish
  17. Paint a second (or third in my case) coat of the marine varnish (with 24 hours drying in between each coat)
  18. Purchase bean corn bags from Etsy

Let the cornhole tourneys commence!

photo 1photo 2photo 3photo 1 copyphoto 2 copystates finishedstates fnished cornhole