I’m not much of a darts player myself, so I was surprised when I decided to purchase my own this year (a nice thing about living in New York City – there are several great places to buy cheap used games)
But now that we’ve got our new board installed, what next? How should we position it? Should we hang it high or low? Is there some other special care required before hanging it up? We looked at mounting options online, purchased a few things, took measurements and finally picked out a place, then set off to drill holes. The results were pretty good, though we may need another coat of paint. I hope these instructions help someone else get started with their very own dart-playing corner of the world!
What You Need:
- A large, framed, mounted dartboard
- An electric screw gun
- Tape measure
- Drill/driver kit
Step 1: Measure Your Board & Cut It Out
First, take down all four corners from where you plan to mount your frame using a tape measure and pencil. This gives us a rough idea of where each hole needs to go; later on, we’ll use those numbers to figure out exactly which dimensions we want to cut the board to fit. A quick note: if you don’t already have a framing square handy, you might consider buying a small piece of wood specifically designed as such. If possible, try to choose something sturdy like 2x4s since most of the weight of the board itself won’t be placed upon it.
Next, grab your ruler and draw lines along both edges of your board, as well as any straight sides. These lines act as guides for cutting the actual boards; make sure you leave yourself extra breathing room because once those pieces are glued together, no mistakes allowed. Also, remember that you’ll eventually be drilling through two layers of material (the outer layer of sheetrock, plus whatever backing lies underneath). So depending on whether you’re working inside or outside, make adjustments accordingly. For example, if you work inside, try to account for any necessary venting by leaving more room between cuts. And if you’re doing exterior projects, leave more room to accommodate weatherproof screws. Finally, keep in mind that the amount of scrap lumber varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always allow for potential wastage during the trimming process.
Once everything has been laid out, mark spots on each side where you’d like to create a stud pocket (this is usually done by placing a level across top edges of the board, then marking the spot directly above the centerline with a nail.) Then, lay out your measurement marks on either edge of the board, parallel to these pockets. Once again, using a pencil, draw guidelines based on your original markings. Next, transfer these figures to paper templates made just for this purpose. Now, simply trace over the template with a marker and remove the board from its protective covering. Using a sharp utility knife and a block of wood, carefully slice away the excess cardboard until only the exact shape remains. Repeat this process twice more, making sure all four corners remain intact, and you end up with a perfectly sized board ready to mount. One last tip: Make sure to check that the finished product fits within your pre-marked frames.
Step 2: Assemble Your Frame
Now, let’s assemble the rest of our materials. First, decide which direction you’d prefer your board to face and start measuring. Take your first line and attach it to one long edge of your board somewhere near the middle. Remember to follow your previously drawn guideline lines as closely as possible.
From here, continue laying out additional stringlines every three feet or so, allowing you to determine approximately where the final holes need to go in order to complete the project. Keep track of your measurements with a pen and calculator. At this point, you can also begin preparing the back panel of your board; typically, this is created by gluing plywood sheets to form a smooth surface. In our case however, we opted to skip this step due to cost considerations.
With all strings roughly sketched in place, move on to drawing horizontal lines across the entire length of your board’s front and base panels. Mark these lines with masking tape and then run a bead of caulking under each section. After smoothing out the caulk slightly with your finger, wait 10 minutes or so for it to cure completely. When you come back, lightly sand the area beneath each line with fine mesh screen, taking care not to damage the surrounding areas. Use a power sander and slowly increase the grit size while repeatedly running your tool against each line. Do this until you reach your desired result. This will provide a clean border around each individual area.
Step 3: Lay Out Holes for Screw Anchors
The next step involves creating anchors for our screws. To accomplish this task, you’ll need a hand saw, a hammer, nails, and either a drill or appropriate driver bit. Place one of your marked vertical lines horizontally across your board, followed by another horizontal line vertically below it. Draw a third line perpendicular to the bottom line, intersecting halfway between these two points. Doing so creates a grid of squares.
Using a pencil, divide each square into thirds horizontally and vertically. Each resulting triangle represents one anchor hole. With a circular object like a drinking glass, poke a pinhole opposite one corner of the triangle and tap gently with a hammer to break the plastic casing free. Insert a nail through the hole and twist it tightly. Repeat this action in the remaining corners of your grid.
After repeating this procedure on one side of your board, turn the board over and repeat on the reverse side. While keeping tabs on the number of rows left empty after completing the project, punch out corresponding holes on the underside of the board (one row per hole!) with scissors. If you happen to encounter any stray pins, pull them loose with pliers. Once completed, fill the newly formed holes with premixed spackling paste. Allow this mixture to fully soak in, then wipe away any excess using a damp cloth. Let sit overnight for full penetration.
Step 4: Attach Stringers & Back Panel
At this stage, we’re almost ready to finish the job. However, we still need to prepare the interior stringer strips we mentioned earlier. Basically, we’ll insert these thin wooden slats between our outer plasterboards’ lath strips in order to hold our board upright. Begin by removing the old laths with a reciprocating trowel blade attached to a pole. Set aside for later disposal.
Next, apply adhesive spray evenly to the innermost strip of lath, being careful to avoid the aforementioned recesses. Run a second lath strip diagonally across your board, overlapping the previous one by six inches. Try to push it firmly into the glue without damaging the underlying plasterboard. Continue in this manner until you’ve covered the whole board, including its perimeter.
While waiting for the adhesive to properly dry, prepare the back panel. Start by applying contact cement to the front of the board. Wait five minutes, then flip it over. Apply contact cement to the backside and wait 15 minutes, flipping the board over again once the adhesive dries. During this time, you can also prepare the “stringer” strips; simply slide these thin wood wedges between the laths whenever needed. Once the back is thoroughly coated, secure it in place with clamps, holding it steady while setting your drill press to the proper depth settings according to your particular model. Be sure to adjust the guide blocks appropriately so that your blades strike each intended target squarely. Remove the board once drilled.
Attach the strainer strips wherever they’re necessary, securing them with toggle bolts or similar hardware. If you didn’t opt for the back panel, affix the front panel (which usually consists of a simple flat piece of wood) to the rear side of your board with contact cement.
For best performance, maintain the board with rust proof lubricant throughout its lifetime. Also, periodically dust the finished product with flour or cornstarch powder.
That’s it! Enjoy your custom game table!