I’m posting this article because we did the work and because we learned a few things in doing so, and if I can save you the headaches that we found, it’s worth a few minutes of reading right?
My friend Lynn (of Plinko fame) is single-handedly providing all of the games for her school carnival.
We found the DIY Connect 4 plans on the Home Depot website here and followed them to the ‘T’ – but found a few errors;
First and foremost – this project is NOT EASY and it is NOT inexpensive.
This one saw blade cost almost $50 Cdn and you need two of them PLUS the bit that allows it to be attached to your drill!
Second, and even more important – this tool – the hole saw /hole dozer is not for the faint-of-heart. If I’m being completely honest – I hate this tool more than any other tool in the workshop – and this is coming from someone that is terrified of her Hubby-removed-the-safety-shield-table-saw.
We tried using it on a battery-operated drill, on a more powerful electric drill, on the Jawhorse, on the ground and even on the grass. We had safety glasses and ear protection and I even made Lynn wear my rollerblade wrist guards to try and protect her from the grabbing of the blade on the wood.
The hole saw blade bites in and either the plywood goes flying or your wrist does – it’s really dangerous!
Poor Lynn, I managed to cut a whole 4 circles out of the 70 needed for the front and back of the DIY Connect 4 board. She toughed it out and finished the game board, but not without tendonitis as a result.
Another error we found in the Home Depot plans was the use of 1×4’s for the frame of your DIY Connect 4 board. Using a Kreg Jig on a 1×4 piece of wood does not equal sturdy or stable. In fact, the hole was so shallow that the screw actually popped the surface wood off.
We ended up going with 2 x 4’s – angled at 45 degrees on either end of the base (for aesthetics) and with 1×4 posts screwed straight into the base. No need for angle braces with this set-up – it’s solid.
The Home Depot DIY Connect 4 plans show the drop-tray as having a solid bottom. Not if you use the wood they recommend and the measurements they give you. The drop-tray actually ends up having a small space in the centre of it. Nothing that the discs will fall through, but not true to the plans either.
We attached the drop-tray to the side 2×4’s for additional stability, and nailed the bottom into the base of the stand – kids are going to be playing with this, so any extra strength you can give it is good.
Per the online instructions, we inserted 1/2 square dowels (not easy to find – we had to cut our own and that had my fingers a little closer to the saw blade than I liked) between the circles and then nailed them into place. We screwed from the outside of the 2×4 arms and into the 1×2 cross-pieces of the circle boards.
Looks pretty good right?
A little sanding and paint and you’d think “Oh what a joyous building experience this must have been!”
That’s because we had to use the 5″ version of the hole saw to cut the disks – AND the 1/2″ spacing between the two circle boards does not allow for 1/2″ disks to slide easily between them. This meant that poor Lynn had to go on the hunt for 3/8″ wood for the disks – which she eventually found at Michael’s.
Then, we had to cut 36 of the disks for the game…
At 9 discs in, this is what the hole saw looked like:
The blade is dull, the wood is burnt and my house smelled like smoke.
Yup, I had the press on the slowest speed and I used very little pressure (per Facebook advice), and this still happened.
Did I mention I hate this tool?
I try not to complain too much if I can’t offer up a solution – nobody wants to hear from Wendy-Whiner right? As an alternative to the Home Depot plans for the DIY Connect 4, I’m going to suggest you buy 36 frisbees (in two colours) from the dollar store, and build your Connect 4 game using square openings. If you have a 12″ frisbee, cut your wood by pre-drilling a hole, and then using a jig saw to cut out each 11″ square. (Or, if you’re really dedicated you can just build a trellis framework using 1×2’s – but that’s a lot of glueing and screwing.) It will function the same as the traditional-looking connect 4 game, but with a lot less work and for a lot less money (you won’t have to buy $100 in saw blades). The spacers between the squares can be 2×2’s to allow for the extra depth of the frisbees.
Here’s a mock-up:
Your frame would have to be larger to compensate for the larger board, but the plans would be essentially the same.
I won’t be making another one of these for awhile (think PTSD), but if you do make one using my suggested plans, please send along a photo!
Have a great one!