Wood Filler: Jumbo Jenga

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This article is from Issue 82 of Woodcraft Magazine.

jumbo jenga

The most fun you can have with 2×4’s.

In warmer months, my friends and our families get together for food and fun. We play Frisbee, Beersbee (the inebriated version), horseshoes, and beanbag toss. During a recent case of the winter blahs, I found myself surfing the web for a new game to add to our repertoire, and came across Jenga® Giant™. It’s a super-sized version of the popular block-stacking, tower-toppling tabletop game. You can buy Jenga Giant if you’re willing to shell out $100, but why not cut up your own blocks for less than $20, like I did?

I began by crosscutting six of the clearest, straightest 8' 2×4’s I could find to a more manageable size and then face-jointing and planing the lengths to 1-1/4" thick. (For this game, it’s important that all the blocks are of consistent thickness.) After edge-jointing and ripping the stock to 3" wide, I set up a stop at the chop saw and cut 54 blocks to 9" long. Then it was time to cozy up to the router table to ease all the edges with a subtle chamfer, followed by gang-sanding the faces of the blocks through 220 grit. To further increase the all-important sliding action, I applied a coat of polyurethane and, after scuff-sanding the contact faces, followed up with a coat of wax. 

Itching for a test-run, I gathered some of the magazine crew in the shop for a crash test. We found that stacking the pieces on a sheet of plywood straddling a couple of sawhorses elevated the game to a more comfortable height. It also made for a more exciting crash! But play however you like. The “rules” are pretty simple. (See box.) The most important thing? Have fun. And watch your toes.

Game on!

To play, stack the 54 pieces in crosshatched rows of three. Then take turns sliding a block from any lower row, and setting it atop the stack, maintaining the crosshatched pattern. Repeat until the tower tumbles. The player to make it crash loses.

Stories wanted! Have a humorous or inspiring story with a woodworking theme? Email your submission to editor@woodcraftmagazine.com, and put "Wood Filler" in the subject header.

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  • PH
    When I saw this article, I thought my daughter l would like to play jenga when she has friends over. A few afternoons in the shop and let the fun begin - or so I thought. Each step is simple enough, but when you have to repeat each one 54 times, the number of hours I had to put into finishing this project was immense. However, the final product does look great and once I regain some energy, I'm going to deliver the game to my daughter's house.

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