Although the weather has turned a bit chilly here in Minnesota, spring is coming…I just know it! So despite the cooler temperatures, I want to keep the outdoor theme going with a DIY to enjoy in the backyard with family and friends. Honestly I would love to have a huge chess board in my yard with four foot tall pieces, but I don’t know where I would put it. But the idea did direct me to other games that could possibly be enlarged for outdoor fun. I saw an awesome backyard Yahtzee game, but my family is more into word games than dice games. So a big backyard Scrabble set is the perfect DIY project.
It turned out great and the tiles weren’t difficult to make just time consuming. You need 100 Scrabble tiles for a game so this turned into a weekend project.
I’ve seen some backyard Scrabble sets out of ceramic tile, but I decided to make the Scrabble tiles out of wood fiber board for a couple of reasons. First, wood fiber is much lighter than tile so it’s much easier to play with. Also the wood fiber tiles won’t break as easily as ceramic, which makes them much more kid friendly. They are also cheaper to make. But you will need some workshop tools to make these wood Scrabble tiles.
So if you want a big backyard Scrabble set for your home, here’s what you will need:
- 1 and 1/2 – 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1/4″ Masonite (many home improvement stores will cut the sheets in half so you can fit it in your car)
- 6 inch Stencil Letters
- Black Spray Paint
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw (like this one)
- Sawhorse or folding table
- Measuring Tape
- Utility knife
- Spray Paint Grip (optional but really handy!)
I decided to make my Scrabble tiles 8 inch square. I thought about making them 12 inches square, but once you start spelling out words it gets really long and hard to plan out your words. Also you can get more tiles using less Masonite.
Start out by cutting the Masonite sheets into planks.
Using a table saw cut the sheets into long 8 inch wide planks.
Since the wood sheet is quite long, it’s best to use something to rest the sheet on as it gets cut, like a saw horse or table. Otherwise the sheet will bow and not only end up on the floor but it may affect the angle of the cut.
You will end up with a stack of long planks.
Measure and mark out 8″ lengths on the long plank, for cutting into squares.
Switching to a circular saw, cut at the line that you marked to make the 8×8 squares.
This part takes a little while since you need 100 tiles for a game of Scrabble. Fortunately because they are made out of Masonite you don’t have to sand the edges. Yay!
Now it’s time to spray paint the letters.
I really recommend that you get a spray paint grip for this since you will be spray painting for a while. The grip has a trigger to press the spray nozzle down so your fingers don’t get sore from holding it down for long periods of time.
I tried extending my stencils with paper and tape, but I found using cardboard works better. All you need to do is cut a square of cardboard larger than the tile and then cut a smaller square in the middle a little larger than the stencil letter opening.
With the stencil sandwiched between the cardboard and the tile, just spray paint the letter. Carefully lift the cardboard and stencil off the tile, and you have your own Scrabble letter.
I didn’t add the scoring points on the tiles because we aren’t super competitive Scrabble players, but you could paint those on or even write them on with a permanent marker.
Now just 99 more tiles to spray paint… O.O
Here are the number of tiles for each letter as well as the points for each:
- 2 blank tiles (scoring 0 points)
- 1 point: E ×12, A ×9, I ×9, O ×8, R ×6, N ×6, T ×6, L ×4, S ×4 U ×4
- 2 points: D ×4, G ×3
- 3 points: B ×2, C ×2, M ×2, P ×2
- 4 points: F ×2, H ×2, V ×2, W ×2, Y ×2
- 5 points: K ×1
- 8 points: J ×1, X ×1
- 10 points: Q ×1, Z ×1
But what about the handy little tile trays so you can plan your next words without everyone seeing what you have?
Either you can string some rope between two stakes, or I have another DIY option. 🙂
Cut a 2×4 to 5-6 feet long depending on how much space you need between the tiles.
Using your table saw set at an angle, make a cut 1 inch deep and about two inches from the edge. Run the 2×4 through a couple more times adjusting the guide slightly each time from 2 inches till you reach about 2.5 inches.
After you have made four trays and all your letter tiles are dry, you are ready from a game of scrabble.
I love how it turned out. I can’t wait to play it this spring and summer with my family and friends!
While looking forward to outdoor entertaining, I want to make sure I have something that everyone likes to do. Scrabble is very fun and challenging, but if you have some friends that are in the mood for something a little faster paced check out these great options from Heartland America.
Whether you are planning to enjoy a nice game of backyard Scrabble or flying a remote control aircraft around the yard, I hope we can all get outside soon and have some fun!
I’d love to hear your ideas for other outdoor family games and remember you’re always welcome at Home with Heartland.