How to Build a Horseshoe Pit
Horseshoes is a classic game that is fun for the whole family. Learn how to build a permanent pit in your backyard.
- 1x6 x 12' pressure-treated decking board
- 4x4 x 8' pressure-treated boards
- 2x4 x 8' pressure-treated board
- 2x10 pressure-treated boards
- 1-lb. box of 1-5/8" deck screws
- 1-lb. box of 3" deck screws
- 50-lb. bag of quick-dry concrete
- spray paint
- playground sand
- bar safety cap
- 1" diameter x 30" long metal stake
- drill with Phillips driver and a 1/8" drill bit
- 6' level
- string line
- tape measure
- miter saw
- circular saw
- framing square
- (2) small buckets or flower pots
- safety goggles
Project Cut List and Plans
(4) 2x10 x 48" for the backboard
(4) 2x4 x 22" for the backboard
(8) 2x4 x 72" for the pitching platforms
(20) 2x4 x 15" for the pitching platforms
(2) 4x4 x 84” posts
(12) 1x6 x 72" deck boards
All the materials can be found at any large home-improvement store, (except for the horseshoes). Have the store cut the 12 foot deck boards in half so it will be easier to transport them.
Much of this project can be built indoors then taken to the site for installation. We made the center/sand area of our pit four feet wide. Offical game regulations require the pits to be 31 to 36 inches wide and 43 to 72 inches deep, and the stakes must be spaced 40 feet apart. You can adjust accordingly.
A Few Tips Before You Get Started
- When using any saw, let the blade get up to full speed and then slowly push through the wood using even pressure. Always use a sharp blade for safety as it is will cut easier. A dull blade will force you to push harder which may cause the saw or material to jump.
- When using a circular saw, make a mark across the entire length of the piece so you can follow it with the blade. This will help keep the cut from binding.
- When shopping for lumber, look down the length of the material and try to find straight pieces or at least the straightest.
- If there is a bow in the material, put the bow against the miter saw's fence at the cutting blade so that it bows away from the saw at the ends. If the piece is tight on the ends and bowed away at the cutting blade, the saw may pull it back at the end of the cut and slam the piece against the fence.
- Most lumber does not come with square ends, it is usually is longer than the specified lengths, i.e. — an 8-foot length 2x4 is usually 8 feet 3/4 inches long. This allows you to square up the ends before your final cuts to length, but be sure to measure first before squaring it up. Watch for staples in the ends where tags have been attached, they can catch in the saw blades and be tossed out (one of the many reasons to always wear safety goggles).
- When using a miter saw or circular saw, make sure to have proper support of the material. Miter saws should have a stand or table to catch pieces. Circular saws should have two supports each on both sides of the piece being cut, so there is not a piece dropping after the cut.
- When inserting 3-inch screws into 2x4s, angle the screws slightly so they do not protrude through the other side.
Step 1: Measure for the Pitching Platform
The two side platforms are where a player stands to toss the horseshoes to the other pit. The player stands at the back of the platform then takes two steps forward to pitch the horseshoe.
Cut eight of the 2x4s to 72 inches. Save the cut-off pieces — cut (8) of those saved pieces and (2) other pieces of 2x4 to (20) 15-inch pieces.
Lay one of the 72-inch pieces on its side. Perpendicularly place five of the 15-inch pieces, evenly spaced across the 72-inch board. Here is the easiest way to determine equal spacing:
Multiply the number of pieces by their width: 5 x1-1/2 inches equals 7-1/2 inches. Then subtract that from total length: 72 inches minus 7-1/2 inches equals 64-1/2 inches. Then divide that number by the number of spaces: 64-1/2 inches divided by 4 equals 16-1/8 inches. Thus, there are 16-1/8 inches between each 2x4 (Image 1).
Mark the 1-1/2-inch thick 2x4s on the small side of each end of the 72-inch board and measure over 16-1/8 inches and mark another 1-1/2 inch and continue. Put a mark across the edge on both sides of the 2x4 with an "X" in the center so there’s no confusion as to where you will fasten the boards.
Lay the other 2x4 x 72-inch boards against the one you just marked. Transfer all the marks across to the other boards using a carpenter's square (Image 2).
Step 2: Build the Pitching Platform Frame
Pre-drill two holes in each of the 1-1/2-inch marks through the tall side. Lay (2) of the 72-inch boards with (5) of the 15-inch pieces on the marks and test fit. Attach the pieces together using 3-inch screws (Image 1). It is easier if the back of the 72-inch pieces is resting against something or you have a helper holding it (Image 2).
Repeat for the three remaining pitching platforms (Image 3).
Cut the 1x6 boards to 72 inches. If you had them precut at the store, you may want to check the length and square them up. Lay the boards on top of the frame and test fit. Do not fasten the deck boards to the frame at this time. It is best to do that at the site during installation.
Step 3: Build the Backboard
- Cut the (2) 2x10 x 8-foot boards into (4) 48 inch lengths.
- Cut (2) of the 2x4 x 8-foot boards into (8) 22-inch lengths.
- Cut the (2) 4x4s to 84 inches.
The 4x4 post will span the length of the two platforms and the backboard in order to hold up the backboard. To do this, two notches must be cut into the 4x4. To determine the placement of the notches, find the center of the 4x4 and make a mark. Make two more marks 2 feet out from that mark in both directions.
To mark out the width of the notches on the 4x4, lay a scrap piece of 2x4 on the inside of those marks (Image 1). Make a line on both sides of the 2x4. Double-check that the spacing is even across the length of the 4x4.
Set the circular saw to 2 inches deep and cut all the way through both the marks. Clamp the 4x4 down or have someone hold it while you are cutting. Make cuts within the marks leaving about 1/8 to to 3/16 inch wood with each pass. Knock out the remaining pieces of wood using a hammer then use a chisel to clean it up and flatten the bottom of the notch (Images 2 and 3). Test fit a scrap 2x4 into the notches to make sure they are deep and wide enough.
The 2x10 pieces will be the face of the backboard. Lay one of the 2x10s next to the 4x4 and line it up with the outside of the notches. Then lay the second 2x10 next to the first.
Lay the 22-inch 2x4s into the notch and on top of the 2x10s. Spread the 2x10s slightly apart so there is a gap. Line them up with the top of the 2x4 (Image 4). Screw the 2x4 into the 2x10s and 4x4.
Turn the backboard over and center the other 2x4 x 22-inch pieces 36 inches apart across the 2x10s. Fasten using 3-inch screws.
Step 4: Make the Stakes
We used a couple of really inexpensive ($1 each) plastic planters for the stake supports. Fill the planters half full with the concrete, add water and mix thoroughly. Add more concrete and water until the bucket or planter is full. Set a stake (we used rebar) into the center and support them. We simply leaned the stakes against the top of a table. Let the concrete dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Step 5: Assemble the Platforms to Backboard
Move all the pieces to the installation spot.
Lay one of 4x4s with the backboard standing up on the ground. Measure 48 feet and place the other 4x4 and backboard.
Set the pitching platforms against the 4x4s, then fasten them together using 3-inch screws.
Lay the deck boards onto the platform frames. Line up two on the outsides and then center the last, place a small gap in between each deck board to allow for expansion. Use 1-5/8-inch screws to fasten the deck boards to the frame.
Step 6: Set the Structures in the Ground
Double-check the 48-foot measurement, this is inside to inside of the backboard.
Take a long string and run it against the side of a pitching platform all the way to the opposite pitching platform. The sides should line up square.
When the platform is in place, spray paint completely around the edges for reference (Image 1). Move the structures to the side then remove the sod from the area; add more soil if needed to make the area level. Add some extra soil where the sandpit will be. Put the structure back into place and check for levelness.
The stake needs to be 48 inches in front of the backboard, centered in between both pitching platforms, and stand 15 inches tall and tilt slightly forward. Dig a hole to insert the bucket, go as deep as you need to get to 15-inch height (Image 2). If you have extra concrete, pour it dry around the bucket before backfilling with dirt.
We placed a cap on the top of the stake for safety reasons. Fill the pit with play sand and start tossing your horseshoes.