DIY Backyard Game: Four-in-a-Row

Jennifer Largesse

Article Posted By: Jennifer Largesse

of Build - Basic

DIY Backyard Game: Four-in-a-Row

Jennifer Largesse is known for sharing excellent DIY tutorials for furniture and home accessories on her blog Build Basic. Here, though, she has a DIY backyard game that’s fun to play and fun to build. It’s an oversized, outdoor version of Four-in-a-Row. This backyard game is sure to be a hit with the family and a great outdoor activity when you’ve invited friends over for a barbecue.

Just follow Jennifer’s step-by-step tutorial to build your own outdoor Four-in-a-Row game.

Four-in-a-Row Backyard Game

Summer cookouts are a favorite of ours, but none compare to the one we hold around Father’s Day for our family, friends, and their kids. What starts out as a carefree barbecue quickly turns into a friendly tournament of backyard games. In the name of upping our offerings this year, we added a new Connect 4-style outdoor game. While it took some time to cut out the holes and discs, we can already tell this will be the favorite for years to come.

Tools

Materials

Cut List

Center Panel

  • (2) ¼-in. Plywood Panels (41-in. x 24-in.)
  • (2) ½-in. x 2-in. x 24-in. Boards
  • (6) ½-in. x ½-in. x 24-in Square Dowel Dividers
  • (1) 1-in. x 2-in. x 41-in. Disc Holder

Tray

  • (2) 1-in. x 3-in. x 39½-in. Floor Boards
  • (2) 1-in. x 3-in. x 39½-in. Sides
  • (2) 1-in. x 3-in. x 6½ in. Ends

Legs

  • (2) 1-in. x 3-in. x 36-in. Vertical Stands
  • (4) 1-in. x 3-in. x 11-in. Horizontal Boards
  • (4) 1-in. x 3-in. Angled Boards – Cut and Miter to Fit

Game Pieces

  • (35) ½-in. Plywood Discs – 5-inch circles (using a 5-inch hole saw)

Building Plans

DIY Four in a Row Yard Game Plans Click here to open a larger version of the plans.


Step 1: Mark the Plywood

Layer both pieces of ¼-inch plywood (cut to size) face-up on support blocks. Clamp the plywood and support blocks firmly to the work surface. Mark a grid on the plywood to designate the center of each circular cutout using the Building Plans above.

Marking plywood for a DIY backyard game project


Step 2: Drill the Pilot Holes

Hole saws have a tendency to wander until the drill bit bites into the wood. To prevent this—and get perfectly spaced holes—drill a pilot hole at each crosshair using a drill bit with a sharp point, often called a dowel or brad point drill bit.

Drilling pilot holes in a DIY backyard game project


Step 3: Cut the Holes and Discs

Place the drill bit on the 4-inch hole saw into a pilot hole. Grip the drill with both hands, and then slowly cut through both panels.

Repeat this process until all the holes are cut.

Finish with the hole saw by cutting the 5-inch discs from a separate piece of ½-inch plywood. For more information about using this tool, check out my Hole Saw Tutorial at Build Basic.

Cutting holes for a Four-in-a-Row outdoor game DIY project


Step 4: Separate the Panels

Flip the lower plywood panel over so the panels set back-to-back. Apply glue to the faces of two ½-in. x 2 boards.

Sandwich the boards between the plywood panels flush with their side edges.

Clamp the parts together.

Separating plywood panels in a backyard game DIY project


Step 5: Assemble the Panels

Secure the panels by nailing through the plywood and into each board from both sides using ⅝-inch nails.

Assembling plywood panels in a backyard game DIY project


Step 6: Insert the Square Dowels

To create the slots for the discs to fall into, slide ½ x ½-in. square dowels between the plywood panels, centered between the holes, spaced 5 inches apart. See the Building Plans above for reference.

Nail through the plywood panels and into the dowels from both sides to hold them in place.

Inserting square dowels between plywood panels to create an outdoor Four-in-a-Row game


Step 7: Assemble the Legs

Using a Kreg Jig, drill pocket holes in one end of each horizontal 1 x 3.

Apply wood glue to the end of the board.

Clamp the board against the edge of the 36-inch Stand, flush with its bottom edge.

Screw through the pilot holes using 1¼-inch pocket hole screws.

Attach a second board on the opposite side of the Stand. Repeat to create the second leg.

Assembling the legs of an outdoor game DIY project


Step 8: Attach the Angled Leg Pieces

Hold a 1 x 3 angled from the tip of the horizontal piece to a height of 11 inches on the Stand.

Mark the angle at each end, and then miter the pieces to size.

Apply glue to the mitered ends, and then toenail them into place using 1¼-inch nails. See the Building Plans above for reference.

Attaching the angled legs of a backyard Four-in-a-Row game DIY project


Step 9: Attach the Legs to the Assembled Panels

Apply wood glue to the sides of the assembled plywood panels. Position the legs on edge against the panels.

Make sure the pocket holes on the legs are facing inward. Raise the plywood with a scrap 1x block underneath to center it on the width of the leg.

Nail through the leg and into the ½-in. x 2 board with 1¼-inch nails.

Attaching legs to plywood panels in a backyard game DIY project


Step 10: Attach the Disc Holder

To hold the discs in the frame during play, cover the gap at the base of the plywood panels with a hinged 1 x 2.

Position and secure the hinges along the outer edges of the plywood panel so that the screws sink firmly into the ½-in. x 2-in. boards as well as the edge of the 1 x 2.

Attaching the disc holder to an outdoor Four-in-a-Row game DIY project


Step 11: Secure the Magnetic Catches

With the hinged 1 x 2 in the closed position, flip the assembly over.

Attach magnetic catches near the ends of the 1 x 2 and plywood panels, as shown.

Securing magnetic catches to a backyard Four-in-a-Row game DIY project


Step 12: Assemble the Tray Floor

To assemble the tray’s floor, first drill pocket holes along the adjoining edges of the 1 x 3 floor boards.

Apply glue between the boards, and then use 1¼-inch pocket-hole screws to secure them in place.

Assembling a tray floor to a backyard Four-in-a-Row game DIY project


Step 13: Attach the Tray Sides

Using a nail gun, shoot 1¼-inch nails through the 1 x 3 tray sides and into the outer edges of the floor boards.

Attaching tray sides to a backyard Four-in-a-Row game DIY project


Step 14: Add the Tray Ends

Cap the ends of the tray with the 6½-in. 1 x 3’s. Nail through the boards, and into the ends of the side and floor boards using 1¼-in. nails.

Adding the end pieces to a backyard game DIY project


Step 15: Attach the Tray to the Assembly

Lastly; mark a height of 5 inches on the inside of each leg. Raise the tray until its top edge reaches the line, and then clamp it in place.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Nail through the legs and into the tray to hold it in place.

Completing the assembly of a backyard game DIY project

All that’s left is to choose a stain and select the colors for your game discs. Paint them, then allow them to dry.


Have Fun with Your Backyard Game

Now grab the game pieces and an opponent and battle to get four discs in a row horizontally, vertically, or on a diagonal. When the game is complete, flip open the hinged 1 x 2 to release to discs and play again!

DIY Backyard Game: Four-in-a-Row

As the daughter of a Michigan carpenter and an English teacher, Jenn has been honing her passion for instructional woodworking all her life. Her years as a magazine editor and video producer in New York City led to the launch of her blog, Build Basic. Through step-by-step instruction in her weekly carpentry projects, Jenn aims to prove you don’t need fancy tools and advanced training to create high-quality furniture and décor—you just have to know the basics!