One of our close friends is about to celebrate their daughters first birthday and asked if I could whip together a Donut Board for their party. These things are quite popular nowadays and also versatile for a number of different event settings. I figured I’d try to build something a little different than some of the Pinterest DIY’s floating around – while also not going overboard on something that may very well end up in the garbage in a few weeks.
- 1/2″ Poplar Core Plywood
- 5/8″ dowels
- 5/8″ Fortsner Bit
- 1×3″ Select Pine (1 x 8ft, 1 x 10ft)
- Wood Glue
- Sanding Paper
- Prime and Paint of your choice
- Brad Nailer
- Chop Saw or Sliding Mitre Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Paint Sprayer (Optional)
- Palm Router (Optional)
- Purchase your Plywood. You can pretty much go to any hardware / lumber store for this. For the sake of convenience (and transportation), have them cut the board down to your preferred size. For this project, we opted for a 3.5ft x 4ft backwall because that’s the largest single piece I can fit into my car. I opted for a 4ft x 8ft x 1/2″ Pine w/ Poplar Core plywood sheet since it has a smooth face and relatively low cost. If you are building something to last, I’d suggest going with a 3/4″ plywood, as it will better withstand warping. Note: If you want exact dimensions, make sure you take an extra inch off each cut to account for the side walls
2. Determine spacing between pegs. We didn’t want the donuts to feel crammed, so we opted for 6 inch spacing between each peg. To visualize the layout, I taped painters tape horizontally across the board every 6 inches down and used a straight ruler to mark square. Given the backboard dimensions were 36″ x 48″, I was left with 6 pegs across and 7 pegs down, for a total of 42 pegs.
- Create slot holes for each peg. At each marked point, I used a 5/8″ forstner bit attached to a standard drill and drilled slot holes for the 5/8″ dowels to fit snugly into. Using some leftover painters tape, I marked an approximate 1/4″ depth point on the bit so that I would have a stopping point to prevent the hole puncturing straight through the other side of the plywood.
- Routing the frame (optional). Taking the 1″ x 3″ select pine, I routed one side of both boards with a 1/2″ bit, 1/4″ deep. You can skip this step and directly mount the frame around the backboard, but I liked the idea of tucking the backboard into the frame better.
- If you skipped the routing part, you can simply miter your frame on a 45 degree angle with 2 x 36″ inseam edges (using your 8ft pine) and 2 x 48″ inseam edges (using your 10ft pine). Since I routed 1/4″ off the ends of each side, my inseams were trimmed down to 35 1/2″and 47 1/2″ – to accommodate the 1/4″ overlay on both ends of the board.
- Glue and Nail the frame around your board. The next obvious step is to stand the frame up around (and in my case over) your board and glue the frame to the board. I used some tape to keep the ends of the mitre tight and a speed square to check for 90 degree angles on each corner. Be generous with your wood glue and if you have, use a nail gun to hold the frame in place as it dries. Work your way around the board until all 4 sides of your frame are glued (and nailed) to the board, wiping off excess glue with a damp cloth as you go.
- Quick Sand. Sand the entire board down with 120 grit sandpaper, followed by a second pass with 220. This will give your board a smooth finish and make your life a lot easier before you paint.
- Turn dowels into pegs. We decided we wanted the pegs to be 2-inches from the backboard, so I created a stop block on my mitre saw at 2’1/4″ – which includes enough room for the dowel to slide into the pre-drilled holes. Now we chop 42 times.
- Plug the holes. We’re almost there! Simply dab a drop of glue into each predrilled hole and plug it in with your pre-cut pegs. Make sure you wipe off any glue runoff that might be squeezed out.
- Prime and paint! In most cases, I would have prime and painted the frame & board before plugging the holes, however, a few factors made me decide to do this step in reverse:
a. I didn’t want to paint the pegs separately, and
b. I was planning on using my paint sprayer vs a brush & roller.
The downside to inserting the pegs first meant the sanding session between coats was more difficult and time consuming than it could be. In hindsight, even though a paint sprayer is so much fun, I think I would use a paint brush/roller combo first, then insert the pegs at the end. Sanding the project between the pegs was a nightmare. Lesson learned!
If you are looking for more weekend projects, hit up our weekend project category for more ideas. Hope you enjoyed this project!
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