Originally played in a sandpit with submerged tin cans for goals, washer toss is a variation of horseshoes that’s especially popular in the mid-Atlantic states, where leagues and tournaments are common. If you’d rather not dig up your yard, make a suitcase version of the game that can be stored easily and will go anywhere.
The goal of washer toss is to pitch heavy metal washers at a goal. Points are awarded to the player whose washer is closest to (or inside) the goal cylinder. The regulation pit size is 3 x 5 ft., with a 4-in.-dia. can sunk into the pit. But for the suitcase version you’ll find no hard-and-fast standards. I experimented with several sizes and finally settled on goals that are 16 in. wide and 20 in. deep, with a 6-in. wall in back that slopes down to a 3-in. wall in front. The cylinder is 4 in. dia. Schedule 40 PVC, trimmed at a 10-degree angle to follow the sidewall slope.
Because there are no standards, you can make a washer toss game from scrap material in your shop. The goals shown here were made from salvaged oak stair treads. Avoid soft wood (such as pine) and brittle sheet goods (such as particleboard) that are easily damaged by the airborne washers. If you’re purchasing material, maple or maple plywood are good choices.
Build your own suitcase-style washer toss game with the everyday items and materials shown above. These parts are assembled into a box that’s cut in two to make a pair of box goals.
You only need one goal, but two is better because the setup allows you to more easily play in teams: One player from each team is stationed at each goal and throws toward the other target. To make two identical goals, I constructed a 10 x 16 x 9-in. box and cut it in two after assembly. The corner joints are fashioned with simple 45-degree bevel cuts, and the 3/8-in. plywood bottom panels are inserted loosely into rabbets before you glue-up the box.
To cut the box into two parts, I set a table saw blade to 1-in. cutting depth (the thickness of the stair treads) and sliced through the box 3 in. from the bottom on the front wall and 3 in. from the top on the back wall. Then I cut through the sidewalls with a jigsaw and straightedge guide, connecting the ends of the front and back cuts.
After cutting through the box on the front and back walls with a table saw, join the cuts by cutting through the sidewalls with a jigsaw and straightedge guide.
Attach a handle on one end of the box (centered) and then attach draw buckles on the sides to secure the two box goals together.
After you sand and finish the goal boxes, cut the PVC cylinders slightly shorter than the midpoint height of the sidewalls and affix them to the bottom panel. Then cut indoor/outdoor carpet to fit snugly into the box. Make a cutout in the carpet for the cylinder, and trim the cutout piece to fit inside the cylinder. Tack the carpet pieces down with adhesive. Finally, stack the goals to recreate the box shape, and attach draw-catches to the sides to secure them. Add a handle on one end.
For the game pieces, you’ll need to buy four metal washers. Regulation size is 2-1/2 in. dia. with a 1-in.-dia. center hole and an approximate weight of 4 ounces. To make the washers easier to find in the grass (and to designate teams), paint them with high-visibility spray paint.
MATERIALS FOR WASHER TOSS
9-in.-wide wood stock (8 lineal ft.)
3/8 x 16 x 20-in. panels (2)
14 x 18-in. pieces of indoor/outdoor carpet (2)
4-in.-dia. Schedule 40 PVC pipe (1 ft.)
Draw-catch hardware (2 sets)
Handle or cabinet/sash pull
2-1/2-in.-dia. washers with 1-in. center holes (4)
RULES FOR WASHER TOSS
- Place goal boxes 25 ft. apart (measuring from the centers of the goal cylinders). You may reduce this distance for younger players.
- Each team/player gets two washers for each round.
- Player One throws both washers at the goal from behind the goal box. After the first round, the player who scores last throws first in subsequent rounds.
- Player Two attempts to throw washers closer to the goal than Player One. The closest washer to the cylinder is awarded one point. Washers outside the target box are ineligible.
- A washer that comes to rest in the goal cylinder is awarded 5 points, and no other points are awarded in that round. If both players land a washer in the cylinder, they cancel each other out and the remaining washer that’s closest to the cylinder is awarded one point.
- Only one player/team may score points in any round.
- The first team/player to reach 21 points wins. (The winner must have a minimum two-point advantage.)
- VARIATION: Some washer toss players prefer to award one point for any washer in the goal box, three points for any washer touching the cylinder, and five points for any washer in the cylinder.