Rings around the yard

This easy project will make for hours of summer fun

By Steve Maxwell

Photo by Roger Yip

There’s something about throwing things in competition that grabs people’s imagination. My easy-to-build outdoor ring toss game harnesses this age-old human interest, while also offering you the chance to work with plastic, metal and paint in creative ways. Built from 1⁄2″-diameter copper water pipe and 4″-diameter ABS pipe, this project is inexpensive, simple and durable.

It’s also designed for compact, organized storage between play sessions; the rings will sit on each post, and each post hangs easily from a nail.

ring toss game




Start by making the two post assemblies. Each one requires two 1/2"-diameter copper T-fittings, three 1/2"-diameter end caps and 30" of 1/2"-diameter copper water pipe. Cut the parts using a copper pipe cutter, then fit them as shown on page 55. Notice how the bottom end of the post is squeezed completely shut using a metal vise. This pinch creates a kind of point that makes it easier to push the post into the soil when you’re setting up to play.

Once all the components are fitted, take them apart and clean the joint areas with sandpaper and a pipe brush so they’re bright. Apply soldering flux to the joints with a plumber’s flux brush and bring the parts together again. Soldering with a propane torch comes next. If you’ve never done it before, check out “Simple Soldering" below. When you’re done, and the metal has cooled fully, drill a 3/16"-diameter hole through the middle of the squeezed post end for hanging the post on a nail between games.

Rings Abound

The rings are made from 7/8"-long slices cut from a length of 4"-diameter ABS pipe. Saw off as many of these rings as you like—I made eight—using either a mitre saw or a handsaw. You can use the rings as is, or roundover the edges to make them more comfortable to hold and better looking. I used a 1/8"-radius roundover bit in my table-mounted router to shape both the inside and outside edges.


Let the games begin

Painting is optional but some colour makes the posts look so much nicer. Choose a bright colour to make the posts easier to see. I applied two coats of Krylon yellow spray paint, letting the posts dry for a day or two so the paint hardened fully. Push your foot down onto the bottom rung to put the post into the soil, and use the slightly higher rung to pull the post out with your hand when you’re done playing.

Tossing a ringer is more difficult than it looks, so start playing with the posts close enough to be encouraging. By the time you’re good enough to move them apart, expect your backyard to be filled with laughter and shouts of joy. It’s surprising what a little bit of copper and plastic can accomplish.


Simple Soldering

Clean surfaces and sufficient heat—these are the two essentials for soldering copper pipe. If you’ve never soldered before, put on safety glasses and practise on scrap pipe and extra fittings until you can create smooth, clean joints every time. Then, hold the assembled post in a vise with the squeezed bottom end in the jaws. Heat both sides of each pipe joint, relying on the heat of the metal alone to melt the solder, not the heat of the torch flame. You’ll find it easier to solder joints while they’re oriented so the liquid solder runs down into the joint; although liquid solder will flow uphill into a hot joint too. The key to a clean soldered joint is to use just enough solder and no more. As soon as a continuous ring of silver flows around the perimeter of the joint, you’re done.


Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Rings ABS pipe 4"-diameter x 7/8" long 8
End caps copper pipe fittings 1/2"-diameter 6
T-fittings copper pipe fittings 1/2"-diameter 4
Main posts copper pipe 1/2"-diameter x 15" long 2
Bottom posts copper pipe 1/2"-diameter x 5 1/2" long 2
Connector posts copper pipe 1/2"-diameter x 1" 2
Rungs copper pipe 1/2"-diameter x 4 1/4" long 4

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools

Copper-pipe cutter

Propane torch

Mitre saw/handsaw

Table-mounted router


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