How to Make a Dart Backboard…MacGyver Style

I work in a very unconventional office. It has a lounge that includes a sofa, LCD TV with high def cable, Xbox 360, Guitar Hero, and a beer fridge. You might be left wondering how any work gets done around here. These are nothing but distractions, and whilst they are fun, they did lose their novelty a long time ago. Well, apart from the beer fridge. I doubt that will ever become passé. So in a effort to boost office morale and help reduce productivity, I thought I’d introduce a bristle dart board into the mix.

I had an old Nodor/Swiftflyte Supabull I had given to my dad, and as he wasn’t using it anymore. I thought it would be perfect for the office. It’s amazing how quickly you can clean a couple years’ worth of crud off a dart board face with a decent shop vac. Anyway, I knew before I put up the dart board in the office I would have to get hold of a dart backboard before I upset the landlords, or the boss, for that matter.

Channeling my inner MacGyver, I figured I could fashion something reasonable from junk I had lying around that wouldn’t look too ugly, and wouldn’t fall apart after a week. If you’re hoping for detailed instructions and accurate measurements, prepare to be disappointed. This is a very simple project that just requires a little bit of ingenuity. Here’s how I put together my own backboard:

Stuff you might need:

  • Scraps of some kind of composite wood board
  • Hanging bracket
  • Fabric (to make it look pretty

Tools you might use:

  • Saw
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Dremel Rotary Tool
  • Cordless Driver
  • Staple Gun
  • Screws

First, I needed some material to make the board out of. Luckily, earlier this year we put in new hardwood floors, and I had a few scrap sheets of OSB (oriented strand board) lying around. The good thing about OSB is that it it’s nice and light, unlike the plywood I was considering using. I found a cut piece that measured about 35” x 40”. This looked about right. I laid it down on the floor, placed the dart board on top, gave it a quick eyeball, and decided this would be the perfect size.

Unfortunately, OSB is quite thin, and while I don’t think a dart would pass through it and damage the drywall behind, I decided to play it safe and double up, so I glued two pieces of board together. The gods must have been shining on me. I found another piece that was only an eighth of an inch off in height, and I just had to cut off one side to straighten up the edge. When I had the the second piece cut to size, I used some wood glue to stick the two boards together. Then I put some weight on it, clamped down the edges, and left it overnight.

After a good night’s sleep, I needed come up with something to hang the dart board on the backboard. A dart board mounting kit makes life easier here. They can be purchased separately, and one is usually supplied with a new dart board. For me, this was the trickiest part of the exercise. My dart board was all ready for mounting, it just needed the bracket that mounts to the wall. As I had no luck finding that, it was time break out the Dremel and grind something into existence from some form of metal bracket I found in my junk. As you can see from the picture below, it wasn’t the most scientific process, and quite a bit of bending was necessary to ensure the board fit tight against the backboard.

Once I had the mounting bracket jury-rigged, I tested it, and removed it from the backboard. It was time to take everything indoors and make it it look pretty. I had already procured a piece of green felt from the office that was once used to create a green screen for a video project. If I had any sense, I would have checked to make sure it was large enough to cover the backboard I was making. In true MacGyver fashion, of course it was big enough. The felt was laid out on the floor, and the backboard laid on top. Then, using a staple gun, I fastened one edge to the back of the board. Before doing the other edge you want to make sure the fabric is pulled nice and tight across the backboard. Having an assistant for this part really speeds things up.

Once the material was nice and tight on the backboard, we had our almost-finished product.

The only things left to do were mount it on the wall, reattach the mounting bracket, hang the dart board, and start playing some darts. When attaching the backboard to the wall, I purposely placed it so the dart board would not sit right in the middle of the backboard. Instead, I left it so that the area below the dart board had more protection than the the area above the top. This is because, in my opinion, low misses are a lot more common than high misses. Here’s the finished project, looking resplendent in the office.

With a little time and not much effort, this easy project can save you a lot of redecorating efforts in the long run. This project was made entirely out of scrap and found materials, so it’s probably good for the environment or something. If being green is not your thing, then I hope I’ve inspired you to be a cheapskate. If it all smacks of effort, though, feel free to go out and buy one. Be kind to yourselves, and one another.

Ooooops Addendum:

OK, I admit it! I made it all sound like smooth sailing! I did make this by flying by the seat of my pants for the most part, and I was very lucky not to make any major screw-ups. However, when I was mounting the backboard to the wall, I decided to put a screw through the board without drilling a hole first. As I was rushing, the fine threads of the screw started to eat the felt, and in the blink of an eye, there was a big rip in the fabric. I hid this rip behind some painter’s tape and, as you can see below, it’s totally seamless.

Comments

  1. I cannot belive it! this is the EXACT thing i was looking for! my father bought me a dart board at the weekend now i can put it up! i love making things out of scrap items i should do it more!! Thanks!!!

  2. Kymaureen1 says:

    I am planning on using your instructions to a “t” and wonder if the board will hold up over time. I am concerned the darts will cause the board to crumble. Thanks.

  3. This backboard receives some pretty heavy abuse. It’s been up over 6 months and no obvious signs of wear yet.

  4. i did just what u said to do and it came out realy nice i was shock how nice it came out saved alot of money going out to buy one nice job

  5. I wish I worked at your office! Totally using these backboard directions for home though, I just moved and I finally have the perfect place for darts. Thanks

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