fatherly-connect-four
Dad, I'm Board

Your Backyard Needs This Giant, DIY Connect Four Game

These step-by-step instructions and images were syndicated from Chris Fry. Check out more of his creations on Instructables. 

Sure, it’s cool to get your kids into the retro video games you used to play, but you know what’s cooler? Getting them into the retro board games you used to play, like Connect Four. In giant, way-bigger-than-board-game size. It gets the kids playing outdoors, give them an appreciation for the simple things in life, and — since you’re going to build the damn thing yourself with these somewhat involved but still totally doable instructions — gives you bragging rights over your friends pretty much for life.

Materials

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  • 12mm MDF (these could be made of plywood) for the counters
  • 12mm x 32mm pine batten
  • 6mm plywood sheet (I got this cut to size for me in the hardware store)
  • 18mm plywood (you could use a piece of pine as this) for the drop plate
  • 63mm x 38mm stud timber
  • Wood glue
  • 2 x 400ml cans of coloured paint, I chose green and purple
  • 3 x 400ml cans of spray varnish

Tools

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  • Drill
  • 102mm Hole Saw
  • Bench Sander (you could use a block of wood wrapped in sand paper)
  • Plunge router with router bits
  • Pencil
  • 1m Ruler
  • Tap measure
  • Clamps

Planning

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The size of the game was dictated by the size of my largest hole saw, which is 102mm. This made the holes that you can see the counters through.

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The counters needed to be slightly larger than the holes so I made them 120mm in diameter.

Using Google Sketchup (you could do this using a pencil and paper) I mocked up the face board to determine how much material I needed. I wanted to allow a little bit of space so the counter doesn’t touch the edges of the channel and potentially get stuck, so I made the channel width 122mm allowing 1 mm each side of the counter.

The batten I used to make the channels is 32mm wide, so I needed to account for that in my measurements. With 8 battens at 32mm and 7 holes at 122mm that makes my width 1110mm. To work out the height, I allowed 121mm for each row plus 10mm at the top making the height 736mm

Cutting The Face Boards

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I bought a whole sheet of 6mm Plywood and had the hardware store cut it for me.

Using a tape measure, long ruler and pencil I marked out the channels and the center points of the holes.

With a hammer and punch, I put a little dent in the center point of each of the places for the holes so the drill bit doesn’t slip and then drilled a small pilot hole and then carefully went at it with the 102mm hole saw. It’s important not to put too much pressure on the hole saw, as the material is only 6mm thick and could easily snap. Let the saw do most of the work.

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Creating The Channels And Finishing The Main Board

Using a bit of sand paper, I sanded the edges of holes on both sides to round the edges slightly. This helps prevent the counters from catching on the edges of the holes as they fall.

Cut 8 battens to 732mm. Using the bench sander, I tapered one end on both sides, creating a slightly larger opening at the top to put the counters in.

Apply wood glue to the battens and clamp or use weights to hold them down while they set.

On the board that doesn’t have the battens, I put strips of masking tape where the battens will go and sprayed it with varnish. When I apply battens to the other side, the tape ensures that the glue adheres to the wood and not the varnish. I also sprayed the channels on the part with the batten, since I wouldn’t be able to get to them once it’s glued together.

Once the varnish set, I glued the 2 pieces together to make the main board and used weights to hold it while it set.

Making And Painting The Counters

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I created circles using Google Sketchup and cut them using the CNC router (you could cut these using a large hole saw or a jig saw). Then I rounded the edges of the counters with sandpaper.

As I used MDF for the counters, I hadto seal it before I can paint them. I painted them with PVA sealer and then sanded them smooth again after the first coat and then gave them a second coat of sealer.

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Once dry, I painted them with grey primer, then white gloss to bring out the color. Then came the color coat and 2 coats of varnish.

Frame Work And Base Board

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I cut 2 pieces of the stud timber to 900mm and, using the plunge router, created a channel in each upright at a depth of 15mm to just over the height of the board. I then routed 2 horizontal channels20mm deep, for the base board.

I used a Mortise and Tenon joint to connect the uprights to the feet; I cut the Tenon in the uprights using the router and then test fit the uprights on the board.

Using a piece of 18mm thick plywood to create the base board, I routed 2 rounded channels to give fingers purchase when removing it to drop the counters, and then cut the board using a jigsaw.

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I cut the feet to 400mm, then marked out the hole for the Mortise and Tenon, and drilled holes so I could cut out the mortise with a jigsaw. Using the bench sander, I gave the ends a 45-degree angle so they look nicer.

I glued the uprights in to the feet and once they had set I glued the uprights to the frame and let set before putting in the base board.

Give the whole thing a couple of coats of varnish and the main game board is done.