DIY Giant Jenga!
It's not just for trendy downtown bars. Giant Jenga is an easy weekend project you will enjoy for years - and you can build it for only $30!
This weekend I decided to devote some spare time to some woodworking as I have been devoting a lot of time to my electronics and wanted a change of pace. As almost anyone on Pinterest knows, giant Jenga yard games are all the rage! The house my boyfriend and I live in has a decent sized yard, but the low power lines mean no throwing games - so my go-to DIY yard game, cornhole, is a no-go. This Jenga game looked fairly easy to construct, gave me an excuse to buy the Bosch orbital sander I've been eyeing, and I would learn how to apply a wax finish! So a win all around.
The tutorial I followed was very well written by Colleen of the Lemon Thistle blog, which I highly recommend following and you can find here. I will briefly restate the steps and provide some added insight!
- Saw - miter (easiest), jig saw (still pretty easy), hand saw (it's going to be a long day)
- Sander 80 grit - belt (easiest), palm sander (tedious but still easy), sand paper (bring friends to help)
- Minwax FInishing Wax Paste - makes a tremendous difference in ease of play!
- Drill - for assembling the stand
- 60 ft of 2x4, needs to be straight, minimal knots
- Old tshirt or paper towels for applying wax
- 6 large wood screws
Step 1: Cut 60 pieces of 2x4 in 10.5" segments
The official Jenga game only has 54 pieces, but cutting an extra six will allow you to swap out some less-than-optimal pieces. Additionally, you can use the remaining pieces to build a stand. When cutting remember to tie all loose hair and clothing back and wear safety glasses. Also recall that you lose some width because of the saw blade, so add in around 1/8 in in each measurement so account for that loss. I used a jig saw and it took me about 30 minutes.
Step 2: Sanding each and ever piece...
This step is by far the most tedious and leaves me wishing I had a belt sander (Ryan if you're reading this would love a belt sander for my birthday). The ends need to be sanded down and any rough spots or knots need to be sanded for good measure. I used an orbital palm sander and it took me about 2.5 hours because my hands kept getting tired. Rounding the corners and edges makes the pieces look more finished and will cut down on splinters.
Step 3: Apply Finishing Wax
This was a new finishing technique for me and let me just stress how much of a difference this step makes. If you've ever played Giant Jenga at a bar before you may notice that sometimes the roughly cut pieces are hard to slide around. This wax finish leaves a slick finish that isn't sticky or tacky and allows the pieces to slide against one another. This step is tedious but well worth it!
As for applying the wax, it is very simple - use as little as you need, and like Mr. Miagi said, "Wax on, wax off". This wax paste takes about 15 minutes to dry, but the blocks will need to be rotated to dry all sides and should be allowed to dry completely. Once the wax is dried, the blocks are ready for stacking. If you use the blocks a lot or live in a humid climate, expect to need to re-wax the blocks once a year.
Step 4: Building the stand
Choose six of the worst pieces of the bunch and use five of them, along with the screws, to construct the simple stand for the block tower, see the image below.
That's all there is to it! go on and enjoy your new Jenga set!