I love to spend the Fourth of July outdoors with family and friends—so I came up with this fun ring toss DIY to help you unwind, spend time with friends and family, barbecue, and play lawn games.

That is, if the questionable Seattle weather allows it. I don’t know what it is about the Fourth of July, but it so often seems like the hinge between spring and summer. Occasionally, the weather clears and we have a gorgeous day to spend outside, but sometimes it’s cloudy or rainy all day.

Regardless of the weather, I have so many memories of growing up in Seattle and spending the entire holiday outside. Sunny years, I rode my bike in the morning parade, ate hot dogs and snow cones on the grass, went out on the lake, and watched fireworks from the water. Rainy years, we played lawn games during breaks in the rain, huddled under a patio umbrella to eat dinner, and watched fireworks wrapped up in blankets with raincoats over our heads. For me, the Fourth of July is about having an outdoor celebration, no matter the weather. So whether it rains or shines, here’s an outdoor game of ring toss that can easily be moved to a covered patio or a garage.

Step 1: Cut lumber to length

Measure and cut your one-by-two into one 18” length and two 8 1/4” lengths with a hand saw and a miter box, using a clamp to hold the board in place. Measure five dowels to 9” and cut in the same manner as the one-by-two.

cut lumber to length
use a handsaw
diy wooden ring toss
use a milter box to help with angels

Step 2: Drill holes for dowels

Make a mark in the middle of the long one-by-two with a pencil. To do so, lay the shorter one-by-twos lengthwise on top of the longer piece and mark at the ends. This should leave a square in the middle of the longer piece. Then, lay the shorter pieces widthwise across the longer piece and mark the width of the one-by-twos at both ends of the long piece. Do the same thing for one end of each short piece. These markings will show you where to drill the holes for the dowels. 

Add tape to a 3/4” spade bit as a guard so you don’t drill all the way through the one-by-twos. You can determine the placement of the tape by measuring the length of the bit against the thickness of the wood. Clamp down the one-by-twos on top of a scrap piece of lumber—the center of the bit will drill all the way through, and you don’t want to drill into your table. Then, drill holes centered between the lines you marked and the ends of the one-by-two pieces, as well as in the center square on the longer piece. Stop when the tape hits the surface of the wood.

mark a line with a pencil
Add tape to a 3/4” spade bit
drill holes for dowels to fit
diy ring toss game

Step 3: Erase pencil markings and sand

Erase the pencil markings you made for the holes. Don’t worry if you can't erase them completely—the sanding will take care of it. Then, use a fine/medium sanding sponge to get rid of any splinters left from cutting and smooth out any rough edges.

sand down your outdoor ring toss game

Step 4: Assemble ring toss base

The two shorter pieces will be connected on the bottom with a metal plate, and the longer piece will fit snugly in between them. This will allow the base to be taken apart for easy storage. 

Use the short one-by-twos to find the middle of the long one-by-two just like you did before, but this time on the bottom of the board. Place the short one-by-twos in line with this marking on either side of the long piece and position the metal plate on top. Make sure the holes you drilled are all facing down. 

Secure the plate to one shorter piece with 3/4” screws, then attach it to the other shorter piece with your screws off-centered slightly to draw the pieces of wood together. Don’t attach the plate to the middle piece. If you do this correctly, the two short one-by-two pieces should hold the longer middle piece in place without actually being attached to it. This way you can remove the middle piece for neater storing. 

If you’re planning to use this ring toss on a hard, flat surface (rather than grass), the metal plate may make it a little wobbly, but this is an easy fix with some rubber feet or a wood shim glued on the ends. 

Once the base is assembled, insert the dowels into the holes.

diy outdoor ring toss
build a ring toss game
secure the metal piece
insert each dowel in the holes
assemble ring toss base

Step 5: Make ring toss rings

Cut 15 1/2" lengths of rope and secure the ends together with colored tape. The different colors will distinguish different teams’ throws. The amount of rings you make and the number of teams (or colors) is completely up to you. 

cut 15 1/2" length rope
use rope for rings
make ring toss rings

Step 6: Paint and number dowels

For some added fun, you can paint your dowels different colors. We stuck to red, white, and blue in honor of the holiday. Measure several inches from the top of the dowel and tape off the section. Paint each dowel a different color (this could signify different point values), or simply pick a color scheme you like—it’s up to you! I like to use acrylic paint because it’s easy to work with, dries quickly, and is easy to clean up afterwards. 

Number the base of each dowel with different point values. The dowel closest to the players should be five points, and the farthest away should be 10. The dowel on the right should be 15 points, and the one on the left should be 20. The middle dowel should be 25. You can use paint or a permanent marker. Personally, I love acrylic paint pens for this kind of thing.

paint wooden ring toss
paint ring toss game
number dowels on ring toss

Step 7: Apply protective finish

The last step is to apply a protective finish. This is totally optional and depends on how long you plan to keep the game around. But if you want this ring toss to stand up against time and weather, I recommend applying a clear polyurethane finish either from a can with a brush or using a spray. 

apply protective finish to wooden ring toss.
How to DIY an Outdoor Ring Toss Game

Now you’re all set to play a game of ring toss! For more lawn games, see our tutorials on how to build ladder golf, outdoor Jenga, and cornhole.