Today I made my very first solo woodworking project: giant jenga, a backyard toppling tower game! I worked on it all morning and finished just in time to take it to a Super Bowl party.
The first time I played giant jenga was with a friend at Hess Brewery here in San Diego. It was so much fun that I wanted to have a set of my own for backyard parties.
This giant wood block stacking game instructable and giant jenga tutorial made it seem pretty simple to DIY. In fact, it seemed like a perfect project to get familiar with my new circular saw — the first power tool I’ve owned, other than my trusty cordless drill/driver.
First, because I wanted to be super prepared and safe while sawing stuff, I read an in-depth article about how to use a circular saw. Then I went to a free workshop at Home Depot a couple weeks ago to try some power tools under supervision.
The workshop was a bit ramshackle but it helped me feel comfortable enough to try it on my own at home. With Dan looking on, I did a test run on some scrap wood.
It worked! So I went to pick up a carload of 8-foot 2x4s. Yes, they actually all fit in the Prius with the trunk closed. Miracle car. (Six were for the giant jenga, and the other four are for my next project… cornhole, of course!)
I rigged up a work table on the back patio using some metal sawhorses we found in our garage, a scrap of plywood left behind by a handyman, and these awesome quick-grip clamps Dan gave me for my birthday.
I measured and cut the first 10.5″ block. Then I used that block as a marker — cutting off each piece before marking the next, to avoid cumulative measurement errors.
Cutting 54 pieces took less than an hour… I was feeling pretty accomplished.
But sanding them took three times as long. Even with an orbital sander. I used rough 60-grit sandpaper on all the sides and corners. After play-testing the set today, it looks like I’ll need to go over them again with a finer grit.
Side note: Why didn’t I buy a sander years ago?!! It only cost $30 and would have saved me so much time on so many projects! Like the time I refinished a dining table by hand, sanding it down every evening after work for a week.
I’m so proud of this project, simple though it may be. As a finishing touch I might decorate the ends with some colorful paint or stamp the sides with a monogram or label — what do you think? Then they’ll be ready to finish with Minwax wood paste for dampness protection and a bit of luster.