My sister Kim and brother-in-law Shawn LOVE to have people over to BBQ and hang out. So when thinking about a birthday present for Shawn, I thought a Giant Jenga set…wait, a TEXAS Longhorns Giant Jenga set could be really awesome and perfect for their summer BBQ season!
I did some research and found this great plan for the Jenga blocks and a carrying case (which makes it easy to store and carry) at East Plum. I decided I would try it out! (FYI, she didn’t have very detailed instructions on how to make the carrying case, so I made that part up based off a few of her pictures and my own ideas while I walked around Home Depot.) You can see how we made our Giant Jenga blocks and carrying case below!
- Giant Jenga Blocks
- 6 – 8ft 2X3 pieces of wood
- Ruler & Pencil
- Circular Saw
- Electric Sander/ Sanding Block
- Mask and safety glasses
- Stain/Paint (optional)
- Gloves, trash bags and old sock for applying the stain.
- Storage Box
- 2 – 9.5in X 9.5in pieces of plywood
- 1- Can Spray Paint (optional)
- 4 – Threaded Rods 5/16 – 18 X 36in
- 8 – 5/16 Bolts
- 4 – 5/16 Wing Nuts
- 4 – 5/16 Washers
- 1 Heavy Duty Handle
- Electric Hacksaw
Giant Jenga Blocks
- Measure and mark every 7 1/2 inches down each piece of 2X3 wood. I used a ruler to draw a straight line across to make it easy when sawing it. You want to cut 54 blocks using a circular saw. Be aware that some of the blocks may have wood knots in them or a gash and may not work well in Jenga, so cut a few extra pieces just to make sure you have enough.
- Using the circular saw, my Dad and I cut at each of the 7 1/2 inch marks. Wear goggles as you cut the wood to protect your eyes. Also, we didn’t have a saw horse, so please feel free to laugh at our make-shift saw horse out of folding chairs. Not pictured is me pressing down to steady the wood as my Dad cut the wood so that it was stable and did not move. It’s not ideal, but sometimes you just have to use what you have.
- Once all the pieces are cut, use an electric sander or block sander to sand each block of wood. I would recommend wearing a mask and googles as fine sawdust goes everywhere as you sand.
- Once the wood is cut and sanded you can choose to leave the blocks ‘as is’, stain or paint them. I have seen a number of awesome different giant Jenga’s online. I chose to stain mine using Minwax Stain/Poly in Espresso Satin finish because I thought it would give it a rich look, protect the wood and thought the poly would make it slide a little bit easier which is good to have in Jenga. It came out a lot darker than I expected, but at least it won’t show dirt:) If you are using stain, make sure to wear a mask and have adequately ventilated space to stain them in. I used an old t-shirt to apply the stain because I think applying it that way is fast and easier to make sure the coat is even. I also laid them out on trash bags to dry. I also wore gloves on my hands. If you get stain on any of your skin, an easy way to get it off is to rub olive oil or vegetable oil on it and then wash with warn soap and water. It is so amazing how the oil takes it right off! Here are about half of the blocks stained.
- For the carrying case, cut 2- 9.5 X 9.5 in. pieces of plywood (I used some scrap plywood we had in our garage).
- Drill four holes into the plywood just outside of where the blocks will be stacked. Make sure you measure this by stacking the blocks on the plywood and then making your marks of where to drill. The picture below is just showing you the approximate location of where you will be drilling. I drilled my holes after I painted, but it would have been better to drill before I painted because it messed up the paint when I drilled the hole afterwards…so drill BEFORE you paint.
- At this point I spray painted the plywood Texas orange.
- Using a Scan-N-Cut machine, Pat & Mike (my sweet in-laws) cut out the Texas symbol and letters on white paper. I applied them to the plywood using spray adhesive and then did a coat of Mod Podge over it for protection.
- I finally screwed in the handle I bought to the top portion of the plywood.
- The all thread rods gave me a harder time. The 36in was too long and the next size down at 27in was too small, so I ended up buying the 36in and cutting it down to 30in using an electric hacksaw. The edges weren’t perfect, but it worked and looked a lot better than if I had left them long.
- On the bottom piece of plywood, I put two nuts, one on top and one on the bottom and then screwed the rod into them to keep the base steady.
- On the top piece of plywood, I used a washer and a wing-nut to be able to tighten the top piece of plywood onto the game. When you tighten all four sides using the wing-nut it holds the game together and you don’t have to worry about the pieces falling out when you are moving it from garage to yard or throwing it in the trunk to take to a party.
- Time to play!
Here are some of their friends (a few of them from Texas:) playing the game at one of their BBQs. They said it was a ton of fun and worked really well! If you don’t know the rules of Jenga, you can find a printable for the rules at East Plum.
On Amazon a lot of these sets are upward of $150. Making the Giant Jenga blocks ran about $20-25, a little bit more depending if you stain or paint it. The carrying case added on about another $25.
It was a fun gift to make! This Giant Jenga gift requires some time and effort but it was totally worth it in the end!
Please send us pictures of your DIY Giant Jenga sets! We’d love to see what you come up with!