Here’s another fun game to play for all ages, especially for kids. It’s called a Kerplunk Game. The original Kerplunk game is small, made from plastic, and is mainly for indoor use. But to make it more interesting and to encourage kids to spend more time outdoors, I’ve built a Giant DIY Kerplunk Game with a wire mesh screen. This is a great backyard game for any occasion or a party.
What Is Kerplunk Game?
Originally this Kerplunk game was invented by Eddy Goldfarb and first sold by the Ideal Toy Company in 1967. The game consists of a tube with lots of holes for the rods, and a couple of dozens of balls. The point of the game is to take out one stick at a time, taking turns, and hope you’ll end up with the smallest pile of balls.
This game offers a fun test of hand-eye coordination. Kerplunk game can be learned in a couple of minutes for all ages, from a young child to an adventurous grandma or grandpa. KerPlunk was a popular game in the 1960s and 1970s, yet many people even decades later enjoy this fun and simple game. Try it for yourself!
What are Rules for Kerplunk Game?
Slide the dowel rods through the openings of the wire mesh screen from different directions and angles. Make sure not to leave any large gaps between the rods. The rods act as a web that blocks plastic balls from falling down. Fill the top of the wire tube with balls, and begin the fun!
The play begins with each player taking turns removing one stick at a time. The point is to remove each stick and try to minimize the number of balls falling through the web. Once a player has committed themselves to a particular stick by touching it, they must remove that stick. Each player keeps a pile of balls that fell through during their turn. In the end, the player who accumulates the fewer dropped balls wins. Usually, the last few sticks will make all the balls drop; you’ll need to plan well for those few left. Have fun playing Ker-Plunk with adults or kids!
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Draw Half Round Circle on 1×12 Board
First, you need to build a round base for the KerPlunk game. This base will hold the wire mesh screen and will have four legs attached to it. You could make the base out of plywood, but since this game is made mostly for outdoors, it’s better to use solid wood. Plywood typically falls apart much quicker than solid wood when exposed to outdoor weather and moisture.
To build the base, use a 1×12 board. You could purchase this board at Home Depot or Lowes. Since the 1×12 board is 11 ¼” wide, it’s too small for a 20” round base. You will need to draw a half round circle that will be cut out and combined together to make one full 20” circle.
To draw a 20” diameter half circle you’ll need to have a large compass. You could purchase it on Amazon, or simply make your own custom compass jig.
Take a thin scrap board that is about 12” in length and drill a small hole on one end of the board for the nail. This nail will be positioned at the center of the circle. Then drill two more holes exactly 8” and 10” away from the first hole. These two additional holes will be used to insert a pencil and draw the circle.
Insert a nail into the first hole and hold it firmly while drawing the 10” radius half-circle on a 1×12 board. Then move the pencil into the 8” radius hole and draw the inner circle. Repeat the process and draw the remaining circles as shown in the picture.
Step 2 – Cut out the Half Round Circles with Jig Saw
Clamp 1×12 board to your workbench. First, cut out all of the 20” circles with a jig saw. Then clamp the 20” half circle to the workbench and cut out the inner 16” circle.
Step 3 – Glue the Half Radius Circles Together
Place the first two half-circles against each other forming a circle. Then place the second pair of half circles on top overlapping the seams. Make sure everything fits perfectly. Then attach these boards together with wood glue and 1 ¼” brad nails using a nail gun. Make sure to nail the boards from the bottom so the nails are not visible. Clamp the boards together and let the wood glue dry.
Step 4 – Sand the Round KerPlunk Base
Once the wood glue is dry, take a random orbital sander and sand the outer and inner circles to eliminate any rough edges and misalignments.
Step 5 – Cut the Legs for the KerPlunk Game
Take your miter saw and rotate it to 15-degrees. Then take a 2×4 board and cut four pieces to 14” in length having both ends at 15-degrees. Use a block stop to make sure all four legs are exactly the same length. (I used a clamp on the miter saw as a block stop.)
Step 6 – Drill Pocket Holes in the Legs
Next, take your Kreg Jig and change the settings to 1 ½” wood thickness. Then insert the leg into the Kreg Jig and drill two pocket holes only on one end. See picture. Repeat the process for all four legs. Sand the legs using a random orbital sander.
Step 7 – Attach the Legs to the Circle
Place the base on your workbench face down and attach the legs to the circle using wood glue and 2 ½ pocket hole screws. See picture.
Step 8 – Attach Side Pieces for Wire Mesh Screen
Next, take a 1×2 board and cut two boards to 27 3/8” in length. Then change your setting on the Kreg Jig to ¾” wood thickness and drill two pocket holes on one end of each board.
Now attach these boards on top of the base on opposite sides from each other. Use wood glue and 1 ¼” pocket hole screws to attach the side pieces.
Step 9 – Cut 1”x1/2″ Wire Mesh Screen
Now you need to cut and insert the wire mesh screen inside the base. For this project use a 30” tall, 1” x 1/2″ wire mesh screen. You could purchase this screen in a roll at HomeDepot or Lowes.
Since the wire mesh screen will be attached to the inner 16” diameter circle, the total length of the screen will need to be 50 ¼”. Measure and mark 50 ¼” on the ground and roll out the screen. Then using cutting pliers, cut the screen so that it’s 50 ¼” in length.
Step 10 – Attach Wire Mesh Screen to the Base of KerPlunk
Insert the wire mesh screen inside the base. Align the bottom of the screen with the bottom of the base of KerPlunk. The seam of the wire mesh screen should overlap behind one of the side pieces. Staple the wire mesh screen to the base with 9/16 staples using a staple gun.
Once the base of the KerPlunk is stapled, then staple the screen to the 1×2 side pieces.
Step 11 – Install Pipe Insulation Over Wire Mesh Screen
Take 1 ½” pipe insulation and insert it on top of the wire mesh screen. The seam of the pipe insulation is coated with adhesive and protected by a plastic strip. Once the pipe insulation is positioned in place, remove the plastic strip from the seam and glue the seam tight. The purpose of the pipe insulation is to cover the sharp edges of the wire mesh screen.
For this game, you will need about 25 wooden 3/8” dowel rods that are about 36″ in length. You also need about 100 plastic balls, 2″ in diameter. These could be purchased on Amazon. You are done with a DIY KurPlunk Game for Kids.