With Summer around the corner and my yard games in full swing for my little son I decided to make this game as whenever we play it we have loads of fun, I also had a decent amount of scrap plywood and some 2x4’s to bang this out.
Although I have seen just the Jenga blocks on their own I also decided to make a box that had two purposes, one was to store the 54 Jenga blocks in and the other was to also provide a platform to play the game on because my back yard is plenty lumpy and void of a decent flat surface to play on.
Here are the steps I took in making it:
Inspiration & Design
Cutting parts to size
Layout Work & Shaping
A little Joinery
INSPIRATION & DESIGN
My inspiration behind this project came from a YouTube video I came across and you can see it below. It goes into a lot of detail and for which I used to design my own plans.
As I usually do I created my own plans that I will include a link to after the project is built but below are a few pictures displaying it all stored inside a box and when it is actually being played with using the box as a platform.
Although I didn’t need to purchase much materials for this project here is what you will need to complete the game.
(6) 2”x4”x8’ (I yielded 9 Jenga blocks per 8 foot length of lumber)
(1) 4’ x 4’ x 3/4” sheet of plywood (This was used to make the storage box
Paint and Primer
CUTTING PARTS TO SIZE
I started making the plywood box for the Jenga blocks to fit inside. So I cut all my parts on the tablesaw to my dimensions.
The Parts you will need are:
(2) Front / Back Pieces
(1) Box Bottom
SOME LAYOUT WORK
All four sides of the box need to have some shaping done to them, the sides will receive a cutout for a handhold and the front and back of the box will receive a decorative detail.
FRONT / BACK LAYOUT
I decided to add a decorative detail to the front and back of the box. Here are the steps I took to make it.
I followed the dimensions in my plans and marked everything out in pencil. Below you can see the design I was looking for. I did this to both the front and back of the box.
CUTTING THE SHAPE
To cut out the above shape there were plenty ways to cut it, but I chose to use my jigsaw, so I clamped the workpiece to my bench and stayed outside the line so as that I could clean it up with some sandpaper later.
The sides need a way to carry the box so I decided to cut handholds into both sides. I used a lot of different tools to accomplish this, which were:
Drill Press with a 1-1/2” hole saw attached
Oscillating spindle sander
A few layout aids such as a circle template, pencil, and a ruler.
Now that all the cutting was done to remove the material on the sides and the front & back pieces I decided to use my palm router installed with a round-over bit to ease the edges of everything that I cut out. There will be more router work later in the process but I will wait until the box is assembled before doing that.
I needed to sand the faces and some of the edges so I used my orbital sander on the faces and oscillating spind sander on the the curved parts which included the the hand hold cut outs. I only used 150 grit sand paper to this preliminary sanding as I will user finer grits after the box is assembled.
There is very little work as far as joinery is concerned on this box, basically the front and back pieces receive a rabbet on each side of the workpieces, the top and bottom is left without the rabbet’s. I used a rabbet to basically insure a square box when it came to assemble the rest of the box but I will be only using glue and screws to finish construction of the box.
So I went over to my table-saw and installed a 23/32” wide dado stack as that is the thickness of my plywood and ran both work pieces through.
It was time to assembly the main body of the box and here are the steps I took:
Pre-drilled the front parts and also counter-sunk them to attach screws after applying the glue
Attach the clamps
PRE-DRILL & COUNTER-SINK
I usually always pre-drill any panel that needs screws its makes the box go together a lot more easier. Anytime I use screws I also usually use wooden plugs to cover the screws holes which is why I counter-sink them below the surface. The main reason for using screws in this project is that they act as clamps and I can move on with the project without having actual clamps and the time it takes for glue to dry.
So with that said I marked out exactly where I wanted to place the screws that way they will be in uniform locations from either side.
I prepared my assembly table to do the box glue up so as usual I rolled out my rosin paper and took all my glue accessories and I also got a few clamps to have nearby when I needed the. Its important to have everything you need when doing a glue-up because you only have a few minutes from applying the glue to it setting up.
FINISHING UP THE BOX
There was still a decent amount of work to finish up the box before turning my attentions to making the Jenga blocks. Here is what I did to finish up the storage box:
Attach the case bottom
Cut & Install the wooden hole plugs
Sand & Router time
ATTACH THE CASE BOTTOM
The bottom of the case was not anything special, its basically a panel I cut a little oversize and predrilled & counter-sunk holes for the stainless steel exterior screws and then glued and screwed the base in place, I also needed to cover up all the holes left from the screws. After the base was attached I used my router to flush trim the base to match the sides so it was nice and tight.
I thought it would be nice to add a contrasting wood to the box I thought I had some walnut plugs left over from my last project but I didn’t so I took a solid piece of scrap cherry and used my plug cutter to make my own. This is why I probably never throw away any scrap because I usually find a use for it. So I installed a 3/8” plug cutter into my drill press and cut all the plugs I needed for the case and the bottom.
Next was to install the plugs into the counter sunk holes, which is very quick. You just glue them in let the glue set up for like 20 minutes and then come back with a flush cutting saw to trim the excess.
To finish the case I needed to do some sanding and use the router to round-over the edges of the box and that is basically it the box is made below you can see a few images of these steps.
THE JENGA BLOCKS
With the box made it was time to turn my attention to the actual Jenga blocks, I will need a total of 54 blocks with the following dimensions 10-1/2” x 3-1/2” x 1-1/2”, so I purchased 6 lengths of 2'“ x 4” x 8’ wood at my local home center. Just incase you didn’t know when you purchase 2x4s there actual dimension is 3-1/2” x 1-1/2”. I also realized when cutting the blocks up why they need to be 10-1/2” long and that is simply because for every vertical Jenga block you can fit 3 horizontally beside it, which is why this dimension is so critical for this game. Its also very important that all blocks have the same thickness of 1-1/2” or the block will be very hard to slide out.
Cut all 54 blocks at my miter saw station
Sanding, sanding and more sanding
MITER SAW STATION
I purchased six 8 foot lengths of 2x4 and broke them down at my miter saw station, I set up a stop block on my Kreg top track at the station and not before long I had cut all my 54 blocks cut.
SANDING, SANDING & MORE SANDING
I needed to do a lot of work on finishing the Jenga blocks to be smooth as this was going to be yard game where kids and adults alike would have their hands all over these I needed to spend a lot of time making sure they were smooth, had no potential splinters and they had to be of a decent quality to paint later on.
So my first stop was over to my belt sander, which I purchased at Harbor Freight last year but to be honest its one of them tools that I hardly use but I am so glad I have one when dealing with projects like this. I installed a 100 grit paper on the tool and sanded them. My next step will be to install 120 grit paper and do them again and finally I will buff them with 220 grit paper using my random orbital sander. So yes I still have a lot of sanding to do.
Sanding all the Jenga blocks was the last part to this project as far as woodworking goes, they all need a paint job and that is the wife’s department so I am not completely sure as to when that will be completed, as I am sure you are aware painting is a very time consuming process and to be honest we are not sure on whether to just paint the ends of the blocks or paint the entire Jenga block, but rest assured when they are painted I will post finished pictures of them.
Below are a few pictures of the set, all be it still in the shop waiting for the paint. I would love to wait around for the paint and then post this project in its entirety but I have other projects that need to get started and I need the room and make way for the next project.
All Boxed Up
When the game is not being used I have an in built storage box for all the blocks
This looks enormous but its about 40” tall