By Adam Kittrell wood and metal shop foreman
When we think of November, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t backyard games. However, you don’t need to be outside to enjoy this fun and simple game. As we gather around the table with friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we may as well throw a little fun and competition into the mix. This project is fun and easy to build. I’ve heard this game called by at least a dozen names: ring toss, hook and ring, tiki toss, etc. For simplicity’s sake, we will call it Tiki Toss.
The materials required for this project are easily accessible. All you will need are two or three pieces of wood, metal hardware, a wooden dowel, and string. This is the perfect project to use those scraps you have lying around the shop. If you don’t have scrap pieces of wood, you can also purchase a six-foot 2×4. You will end up with plenty of wood left over if you go that route, so you can always make several and give the rest away to friends and family. Either way, if you pull this simple game out at your next gathering, it is sure to be a hit.
Cut and parts list
2 boards 15 inches long and 3 inches wide
1 1 ⅜ dowel rod 15 inches long (the diameter of the dowel doesn’t have to be 1 ⅜ but that is as small as I would recommend going. The dowel needs to be thick enough to allow you to mount the hooks without passing through the center of the dowel.)
2 small hooks
2 1-inch rings
2 small eye rings
2 pieces of string cut about 12 inches
2 #9 wood screws (or whatever screws you have lying around)
Those are all the materials you will need to make this simple (but oddly entertaining) table-top game.
Start off by measuring your boards to find the center. Mark the center point with a pencil or a piece of chalk. I chose to make my project with scraps from an old whiskey barrel. The inside of the barrel is charred to flavor the whiskey, so I had to use chalk to make any marks that would show up. Next, select a Forstner bit that corresponds with the diameter of your dowel. In my case, I used a 1 ⅜ Forstner bit. Using the center mark from earlier, drill a hole roughly halfway through both of your boards. These holes will serve as the seat for the dowel. Next, select an 1/8” bit and drill a pilot hole through the bottom of the board. This will serve as a pilot hole for the screw you will use to secure the dowel into the boards. I like to add a screw to help hold in the dowel while the glue dries. However, if you are not fond of metal hardware, the glue will hold everything together securely. If you choose to leave out the screw, note that it will take a little longer to make because you must let the glue set-up in between steps. Don’t glue the dowel in just yet, we have a few more holes to drill first.
Select the board you want to use for the top piece of your game. Place a mark 1 inch in from the short edge of the board and centered (width wise) on the piece of wood. Do this on both ends of the board. At these marks, drill a pilot hole with a small drill bit so that your eye hooks will screw in easily.
The next step is a little tricky but it is very important. Get your dowel and pre-drill a small hole completely through the dowel 4 inches from the bottom. The hard part about this is centering the drill bit in the very middle of the dowel. You need to get this as close to the middle as possible because you want both sides to be as symmetrical as possible. If you end up missing the mark, that is ok. However, you should try to get it as centered as you can.
Congratulations, you are halfway done! All that’s left now is assembly and finishing.
Begin by taking a small amount of wood glue and putting it inside the hole you drilled for the dowel. You want to make sure you put enough glue in to coat the bottom and sides of the hole but not so much that you are going to get a ton of squeeze out. Since you can’t easily get into such a tight corner with a wet towel to clean up the glue, you want to try to keep squeeze out to a minimum. If you end up using too much glue, it’s not a big deal. It will just take a little more effort to clean up during the finishing process.
Next, place your dowel in the hole and flip everything over to drive the screw through the board and into the dowel. Repeat this step for the top piece. It is important to ensure the top and bottom pieces are in line with each other. I laid the pieces on their side and used the table to align them. If you plan on painting your game, now is the time. Before you commence painting, wipe away any excess glue with a wet towel. Then you can finish your game with any paint, stain, or sealant you like!
After your paint or sealant is dry, you may screw in all of your hardware. Screw the eye hooks into the top board. Then you will drive the other hooks into either side of the dowel rod, where you drilled your pilot holes. Next, take your string and tie one end to the ring. To ensure you leave an adequate amount of string, secure the ring on the hook that’s on the dowel and thread the other end of the string through the eye hook on the top board. Pull the thread until you feel tension and then tie it into place. Before you cut off any extra string, give the ring a couple of tosses to make sure that it’s long enough. This can take a little time to ascertain but think of it as practice so you will be able to dominate the competition later. After you make sure that the string is the correct length, make a secure knot in your string and cut off any extra length. If you are worried about your string coming untied, you can put a drop of super glue on the knot. Just make sure you don’t glue the string to the eye hook! Repeat these steps on the other side and you are ready to challenge your family and friends to a quick game of tiki toss!