Jumbo Jenga

My friend Joey Novak recently posted about making some giant Jenga blocks, so I thought I’d give it a shot, too.

First, I needed to know what kind of wood to buy. Jenga blocks are 0.57″ x 1″ x 3″ (height x width x length). The easiest wood to get would be either 2×4 (1.5″ x 3.5″) or 2×3 (1.5″ x 2.5″) studs. So if we upsize the Jenga blocks with a 1 to 3 ratio for the width/length, then our Jenga blocks would be either 1.5″ x 3.5″ x 10.5″ (2×4) with a height/width ratio of 0.43″ to 1″ or 1.5″ x 2.5″ x 7.5″ (2×3) with a height/width ratio of 0.6″ to 1″.

So what does all that mean? It means I should go with the 2×3 studs if I want the most  Jenga-like blocks.

Next I needed to know how much wood I needed. Jenga has 54 blocks, and since I decided to use 2×3 studs, that means I needed 405″ of lumber. Lowe’s sells 2x3x96″ studs for only $1.83 a piece, so I picked up 5 (only $9.15!), giving me the ability to make 60 jumbo Jenga blocks.

The last preparation needed was tools. I was short a few minor tools, but for a few dollars off of a gift card I got for Christmas, I ended up with the following:

  • Cordless orbital sander with P80 and P220 sandpaper
  • Cordless circular saw
  • Backsaw
  • Square
  • Clamps
  • Kitchen table chairs

Not ideal, but it works. I clamped a 2×3 to my kitchen chairs, marked the cuts using the square and a pencil, then sawed through with the circular saw. For some reason, my circular saw is just a pinch too small to cut through a 2×3, so I had to use the backsaw to finish the cuts.

Next, I used the P80 sandpaper to smooth each surface and edge, and to remove any pencil marks or markings that came on the lumber. This was a tedious task because I had to hold the sander in my lap as if it were a bench sander, and I kept running out of battery power. A corded bench sander would have made things a lot easier.

Last, a quick sand with the P220 to make each block nice and smooth so they’ll slide easily while playing Jenga.

Because of my battery issues, I only had time today to cut and sand one of my pieces of 2×3 (12 blocks), but here are the results so far:

After pulling the wrong block

A block castle with Lego knights

I’m very excited to finish the rest of the blocks! I’m going to cut the rest of the lumber tomorrow, and work on sanding it over the next few days.

Do you have any ideas for easy wood working projects? Please let me know in the comments!

Update (1-2-2010): Today I cut the other 4 studs that I bought, so now I have 60 blocks total. I still need to sand 48 of the blocks, but it is a frigid 33° F outside, and lately I’ve become a bit of a wuss when it comes to cold. Perhaps Monday or Tuesday when it warms up a little.

One comment

  1. Awesome! Katrina and I want to make a game where you get enough blocks to make small castles to protect the King. Then you shoot rocks at it from a small trebuchet or bolts from a ballista at the castle until you knock over your opponents king.

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