Photo Credit: Ashley Largesse Photography

Most projects here at Build Basic are brainstormed on a napkin or the back of a receipt, and then move quickly into the sketch, prep, and building stages. But when The Home Depot invited me to participate in a Lumber DIY Challenge, I found myself with a case of builder block–a close kin to writer’s block, which I experienced waaay too many times throughout my years in the Magazine industry. Somehow I found myself daydreaming of upcoming summer cookouts (i.e. reasons to procrastinate), which led me to thinking about how our barbecues typically turn into a “tournament of backyard games” among friends and family.

 

So, I thought, I already built a rustic DIY Baggo Game Set (which we LOVE), and just about every place I stop has a plan for Ladder Golf. So what game could we add to our “outdoor offerings” that would feel fresh and different? Enter my childhood love for Connect Four, and a strong urge to build a giant-sized version, complete it with holes, discs, and slots that empty when the game is over.

 

Which is all to say, my builder’s block was cured, the four-in-a-row game turned out waaay better than I thought it would, and we have a new reigning backyard favorite that’s perfect for all ages. Here’s how to build your own…

 

 

TIP: Click the image above to reveal the free building plans. Click the tabs below to see the tools, materials and cut list.

NOTE: This tutorial may contain affiliate links. To see our full disclosure policy, click HERE

 

Cost: About $60

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate. While the assembly is easy, drilling all the holes takes time and patience.

Note: This list may contain affiliate links

(2) ¼” x 2′ x 4′ Plywood Project Panels

(1) ½” x 2′ x 4′ Plywood Project Panel

(2) 1 x 3 x 6′ Boards to make the Legs and Tray

(6) ½” x ½” x 3′ Square Dowels

(2) ½” x 2 x 3′ Hobby Boards

1¼” inch Kreg Jig Screws

5/8-inch finish nails

1¼” Finish Nails

Center Panel

¼-inch Plywood Panels – 2 @ 41-by-24-inches

½” x 2 Boards – 2 @ 24 inches

½” x ½” Square Dowel Dividers – 6 @ 24 inches

1 x 2 Disc Holder – 1 @ 41 inches

Tray

1 x 3 Floor Boards – 2 @ 39½ inches

1 x 3 Sides – 2 @ 39½ inches

1 x 3 Ends – 2 @ 6½ inches

Legs

1 x 3 Vertical Stands – 2 @ 36 inches

1 x 3 Horizontal Boards – 4 @ 11 inches

1 x 3 Angled Boards – 4 @ Cut and Miter to Fit

Game Pieces

½” Plywood Discs – 35 @ 5-inch circles (using a 5-inch hole saw)

 

Steps

 

1. Layout the Holes

 

Using the cut list above, cut the plywood pieces to size. (Tip: Use my easy DIY Plywood Cutting Tutorial). Sandwich the two pieces of ¼-inch plywood together. Place the plywood pieces 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 my Building Plans HERE.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 1

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2. Create the Pilot Holes

 

Because hole saws can wander a bit until the drill bit bites into the wood, drill pilot holes at each crosshair. Choose a drill bit with a sharp point, like a brad point drill bit.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 2

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3. Cut the Holes and Discs

 

Using a drill/driver fitted with a 4-inch hole saw, drill the holes. To see my tips on how to use this tool, see my tutorial HERE. Tip: Allow time between cuts for the drill motor to cool, and keep a second battery charging, as this part of the process can run through a battery’s power quickly.

Lastly, cut the discs from a separate piece of ½-inch plywood using a 5-inch hole saw attachment. The interior cut out of this size hole saw is just under 5 inches (because you lose the thickness of the blade), which allows the discs to pass freely through the 5 inch spacing between dowels later. Likewise, the thickness of ½-inch allows the discs to “stack” on top of one another inside the slot.

Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 3

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4. Join the Panels

 

Place the panels back-to-back. Apply glue to two ½” x 2 boards. Position the boards between the plywood panels flush with their side edges. Clamp the parts together. Nail through the plywood and into each board from both sides using 5/8-inch nails to join the panels.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 4

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5. Position the Dowels

 

To create the slots for the discs to fall into, slide ½” x ½” 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.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 5

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6. Build the Legs

 

Using a pocket hole 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. 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 for reference.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 6

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7. Secure the Legs

 

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” x 2 board with 1¼-inch nails.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 7

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8. Add a Board to Catch the Discs

 

To hold the discs in the frame during play, covered 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” x 2 boards as well as the edge of the 1 x 2.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 8

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9. Add a Magnetic Catch

 

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.
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 9

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10. Build the Tray

 

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. Using a nail gun, shoot 1¼-inch nails through the 1 x 3 tray sides and into the outer edges of the floor boards. Cap the ends of the tray with the 6½-inch-long 1 x 3’s. Nail through the boards, and into the ends of the side and floor boards using 1¼ inch nails.

UPDATE: Some reader have said this magnetic catch doesn’t quite hold the weight of their discs. A screen door hook or shutter magnet is a good alternative (Thank you to Steve for the suggestion!).

Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 10

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11. Secure the Tray

 

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. 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 3 to release to discs and play again!
Four-in-a-Row Game by Build Basic - Step 11

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Four in a Row Yard Game - Project Plans by @BuildBasic www.build-basic.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Largesse Photography

 

WANT TO BUILD THIS PROJECT?

 

 

How to Use a Hole Saw by Build Basic - www.build-basic.com

Check out my

Hole Saw Tutorial

 

 

 

Four in a Row Yard Game by Build Basic for Home Depot - www.build-basic.com

Check out The Full Tutorial on

The Home Depot’s Blog, The Apron

 

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33 thoughts on “Build a DIY Four-in-a-Row Yard Game

  1. Michele Craft

    How did you get the magnetic catches to keep the tray from dropping after only a few disks in? I can’t get it to stay closed tho we’ve had to mount the plate on the board and the magnet on the flip down piece since the suggested magnets have a screw hole width on center of 1-1/2″ and the meat of the board where the side support is only equals 1 1/2″

    1. Steve

      The latches shown are really intended for vertically mounted swinging cabinet doors like bookcase or kitchen on wider surfaces, not supportinbg weight – they just hold the door closed. Instead, consider using shutter magnets which are half the depth, or really strong earth magnets ⅝” or ¾” diameter, all available at most any hardware store.

  2. Judy

    When inserting the slides between the vertical holes, why wouldn’t you attach them to one side of the plywood before joining the two pieces together. So much easier to see where they need to go when the second piece of plywood isn’t blocking your vision. Otherwise, great plans for a great project.

    1. STEVE

      SUBSEQUENT SANDING AND LABOR INVOLVED WOULD BE BOTH PROHIBITIVE AND UNECESSARY; AND SUBSEQUENT SHRINKAGE & CRACKING WOULD BECOME A NIGHTMARE

  3. Pingback: Best Yard Games for an Outdoor Party - Sometimes Homemade

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