How to Build a Dartboard Cabinet
Score big points with your friends with this easy-to-build dartboard cabinet.
IntroductionA solid-wood dartboard cabinet typically starts at $150, and at that price you’re getting one made of pine; you’ll pay much more for a premium hardwood. For the same cost, you can build a better one yourself, such as this one, which is stylish, durable and easy to make. There are no fussy miters or fancy joinery, and it’s made from standard board widths, so you don’t need a table saw. And if the aged-steel door panels don’t suit your style, you can substitute plywood panels to match the surrounding wood.
- Aviation snips
- Drill press
- Finish nailer
- Miter saw
- Orbital sander
- Plug cutter
- Pocket hole jig
- Table saw
- 1-in. screws
- 1/2" x 2' x 4' oak plywood
- 1/2" x 2" x 4' oak board
- 1/8" x 2' x 4' chalkboard sheet
- 1x2 x 8' oak board
- 1x4 x 8' oak board
- 24" x 36" weldable steel sheet
- 24" x 48" x 5/32" roll of cork
- 3/4" oak cove molding
- 3/4" x 8' screen molding
- Hinges (4)
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Muriatic acid
- Table salt
Tools and materials overview
We spent about $150 on the materials, which are available at any home center. You could save some cash by choosing different hardwood and hinges (we found ours online for $6 each!). You’ll need a pocket hole jig to replicate the dart storage system. To make perfectly matched plugs to hide the screws, you’ll need a plug cutting bit ($17 for a set of three sizes) and a drill press, or you could use a dowel or store-bought plugs.
An angle grinder would be helpful for cutting the steel, but you’ll get a decent cut with aviation snips—without the sparks. You can have the panels cut to size at the home center or cut them yourself with a circular saw and straightedge guide. Just check the diagonal measurements before you make the cuts.
Age the steel panels
To achieve the rust patina shown here, first lay the panels on a scrap of plywood outdoors. Pour a few ounces of muriatic acid into a spray bottle, spray the metal and let it sit overnight. When it’s dry, spray on a mixture of vinegar (1 part), hydrogen peroxide (4 parts) and table salt (1 to 2 tbsp.) and let dry. If it fizzes a little bit, you’ll know it’s working. If you want more rust, spray on more rounds of the rust solution. Try your hand at “painting” with the solution by opening the nozzle on the spray bottle and creating a unique pattern with the stream. The solution will dry and leave a superficial rust surface. To keep the look permanent, spray on several light coats of a matte clearcoat finish.
Caution: Muriatic acid releases harmful fumes and can burn skin. Work outdoors, wearing rubber gloves and eye protection.
Keep chalk handy on this simple holder made from cove molding.
Clever dart storage
Pocket holes are the perfect place to store your darts.
Project step-by-step (11)
Drill the plug holes
Bore holes with a 3/8-in. Forstner bit in the drill press. They should be about 3/8 in. deep to make room for the plugs, so be sure to set the depth stop. You can bore the holes with a standard drill and bit using a stop collar, but you’ll get better results with a Forstner bit in a drill press.
To get a perfect match, cut your plugs from an offcut of the wood you used for the cabinet. A special plug-cutting bit will cut a circle into the material and leave the plug in the middle. Chuck the bit into a drill press and set the depth to cut 1/2 in. deep; you’ll ruin the plug if you go all the way through. Cut more plugs than you need so you have options for grain matching. Break out the plugs by prying with a flat-head screwdriver.
Plug cutters are incredibly useful and will make any DIY project look professional. Get an 8-piece set from Amazon here.
Assemble the cabinet box
Drill a pilot hole in the middle of each plug hole and into the ends of the cabinet top/bottom. Apply glue and screw the box parts together with 1-in. screws.
Plug the screw holes
Choose plugs that match the surrounding grain and glue them in. Cut them flush. A flush-trim saw works great for this; the thin, flexible blade sits on the wood and can cut the plugs close to the surface without gouging. Sand them flat.
Add the back
Be fussy about the back panel! Cut it perfectly square and use it to square up the box. A square cabinet will make installing the doors easy. After a test fit, glue and nail the back to the cabinet box.
Build the doors
To build the doors, start by boring the plug holes in the sides of the frame, then glue and screw them to the tops and bottoms and fill the plug holes. Check for square by taking diagonal measurements and making sure they are equal, and then attach the top and bottom face frame rails. Cut the stiles to fit and nail them to the frame flush with the rails. Cut the diagonal and horizontal pieces, then glue them flush with the back side of the face frame. Hold them in place with a clamp while the glue dries.
Drill dart holes
Cut a 1x4 to 12 in. and mark lines where it will be cut at an angle to fit in the corner. We made 60- and 30-degree lines at each end to match the doors. From the sharp corner of the 60-degree line, measure and draw a line across the top edge of the board at 5-1/4, 7-1/4 and 9-1/4 in. Align the pocket hole jig with each mark, resting it on a 3/4-in. spacer block and drill pocket holes. If your jig differs from the one shown, your setup may be different. Drill a 1/8-in. hole to account for the length of the dart tip in the center of the hole.
Then cut four pieces of cove mold to fit inside the door frame, three pieces of screen mold to hold the panels, and four more to trim the cabinet against the wall. Sand all wooden parts to 220 grit, stain, and apply a few coats of finish.
If you don't have one of these amazing Kreg pocket hole jigs, then do yourself a huge favor and get one from Amazon right here.
Attach the chalk and dart holders
Drop the steel panel into the door frame. Fit two pieces of cove molding together inside the door frame, then glue and tack them to the bottom frame board in front of the metal paneling. Before you nail on the dart holder, cut cork to fit inside the back panel and use spray adhesive to keep it in place.
Install the chalkboard
Cut the chalkboard panels to fit above the chalk tray, and then glue and nail in screen molding to hold it in place.
Mount the hinges
Position the hinge so the barrel is flush with the front edge of the cabinet, drill pilot holes and screw the hinge to the cabinet. Set the doors against the cabinet and use a spacer to create a gap (we used a combo square). Drill pilot holes and screw the hinge to the doors. Installing the hinges with the cabinet upright took care of any “slop” in the hinges. To finish the cabinet off, use the screen molding to hide the plywood panel, attach the cabinet to the wall and mount your dartboard!