UPDATE 10/24/11: I was contacted by a firm about a certain trademarked game and have since removed any instance of said word.

So I traveled back to upstate New York for the holidays, which was a welcome change from Chicago. However, one thing I wanted to do while I was there and while I had access to some heavy-duty shop equipment was to introduce some folks to a game I had played a few times here in the Chicago - basically, an oversized version of a game from childhood that we all know and love.

I didn’t really bother looking for directions online since the idea is painfully simple. Make a bunch of wooden blocks that can be stacked into a tower of alternatingly-oriented layers. So if you’re interested, I’ve put the directions and parts list below. Keep in mind, the dimensions are not simply scaled-up from the classic childhood game – this is just how I did it because it was easy.

What you’ll need:

  • Seven 2x4x96

Be picky. Avoid knots (especially on the sides) and look for unwarped boards 

Assembly (approx. 2 hours)

1.     Divide each 8ft board into lengths of 10.5 inches.

“But Charlie, shouldn’t they be 12 inches long (3x4in)?” No and I’ll tell you why. A “two-by-four” is actually 1.5in by 3.5in, so the length of each piece needs to be 10.5in (3x3.5in).



2.     Cut each block (duh).

I used a mitre saw, which is what you see below, but a table, band, or even a good old fashioned handsaw will do the trick. Or summoning the ghost of Bruce Lee. Whichever.

Manly, deadly machines!

3.     Sand each block so it will slide easily. The idea is to minimize friction, especially on the sides. If you picked up quality 2x4s, the tops and bottoms should be planed well and pretty smooth. Be sure to round out the corners. You can also exorcise Bruce Lee now.

I used a belt sander because it saved A LOT of time and I could get an even bevel on all sides.

This saved a whole bunch of time

4.     Play a round, be choosy about your blocks (you need 45 to make 15 “stories” of the tower) and make any finishing touches. You should have a few blocks leftover to choose from.

Testing out some different blocks

If I had the time, I’d use floor wax and coat each block to feel like a bowling alley’s wood. In fact, I’d summon the ghost of Pat Morita to do it for me. The blocks may be sticky at first, but as the tower gets higher, they’ll loosen up a bit.