Yard-size Tumbling Block Game

bobmhunter, posted on May 19, 2020

This is such an easy project to make, and you can easily do it in a day. Making the 54 blocks is what takes the longest time. To start with, you'll need five 2x4s 8' long and one 8'-long 1x8 of standard pine. I scaled the blocks to be of the same proportions as similar blocks found in such games as Jenga (2x3x7). I also made a few extra blocks, and ended up using two as the handles for the storage box, which doubles as the playing surface when you turn it upside down.

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Materials or Supplies

Materials or Supplies

5@2x4x8 pine
1@1x8x8 pine

Cut the blocks

Although you could make the blocks from 2x3 pine, those boards are typically uneven, slightly warped, and full of knots and wany edges. Instead, I cut the blocks from 2x4s so I could make them square, flat, and as free of knots as possible. Start by cutting the 2x4s into 30"-long sections just to make them easier to handle. Next, joint one face flat on each board, then plane the 2x4s to a finished thickness that's smooth on both faces and as thick as you can leave them. Mine ended up at 114 " thick. Rip the boards to 212 " wide. Crosscut the blocks to 712 " long. 

Rout and sand the blocks

Use a trim router and small round-over bit to round all the edges and ends of each block. I used a 5/16" round-over bit, but you could also use 1/4" or 3/8"—whatever you have or like. You could also do this on a router table. Next, sand all surfaces smooth, including the rounded edges and edges. I did all this on my belt/disc combo sander, but you could use a random-orbit sander. Don't oversand! Just get them smooth and free of splinters.

Build the box

Stand the blocks up as shown in 6 rows of 9. Measure the stack and add 1/2" to get what will be the inside dimensions of the storage box. Cut the 1x8 to these lengths and screw the box together, with two pieces ripped to size for the bottom. You can also use plywood for the bottom.

Finish the box

You'll need handles for the box. I just used two of the extra blocks, gluing and screwing them on from the inside of the box. I did not apply any finish to the blocks or the box, but just left them plain pine. I was worried that any finish—and especially paint—would add tackiness to the blocks, and you don't want that when playing the game. The blocks need to slide out smoothly when playing, and any "grip" from the finish would make the game more difficult. I left the box plain simply to match the blocks.

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