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How to Build a High Striker Carnival Game

Carnival prizes that can be won playing the high striker game.
carnival image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com

In the high striker, or the strong man game, the contestant strikes a wooden platform with a mallet, trying to propel a small ball or weight up a vertical length so it hits the bell at the top. You don't have to visit a carnival to play this game, however, as you can build one at home with simple tools and techniques.

Use a table saw to cut the 10-foot long piece of wood into two 10-foot long pieces of wood, a 3.5-inch-wide piece and a 2-inch-wide piece.

Screw the 2-inch wide board onto the back of the 3.5-inch wide board. Position the boards so the small board is placed perpendicular to the wider board--making a "T-shape" running the length of both boards. Screw the two boards together with at least 10 screws, positioned one foot apart, all the way up the 10-foot length. You may use more screws if you deem necessary. Make sure your screws are at least 1.25-inches long so they go through the 3.5-inch board, and secure themselves into the 2-inch backboard.

Use a measuring tape to make horizontal lines up the length of the 3.5-inch board. Make the marks evenly spaced and paint them on, with numbers next to them, indicating the points received for hitting the weight up to that height. Therefore, make the number increase as you go up the board. You can use whatever scale you'd like, but 100 points per foot until you equal 1,000 points at the top is fairly standard.

Spread a layer of lacquer over the wood, sealing it and giving it a nice shine (allow the paint from the previous step ample time to dry).

Place an eyebolt four inches up from the bottom of the 10-foot board, in the center. Place another bolt six inches down from the top of the board.

Tie your length of copper wire to the eyebolt at the top of the wood, making sure it is secure. Slide the wooden spool onto the wire from the bottom--the spool must have a central hole that is wider than the diameter of the wire--then tie the wire to the bottom eyebolt on the piece of wood. The wire must be adhered to this bolt in such a way that the tension along the wire can be tightened or loosened by turning the bolt slightly. The tautness or looseness of the wire determines how hard it is to shoot the spool to the top.

Rest your 10-foot long construction on top of the 2.5-foot long piece of wood--the baseboard. Screw it into place. Because the boards must be heavily supported, secure three screws along the 3.5-inch board, at about an inch apart. Screw them from underneath the baseboard, and up into 3.5-inch wide board. Position two screws to secure the 2-inch board as well. Position them about 1-inch from each other. The 10-foot boards and the baseboard should create an "L-shape" now. Use scrap wood to add further support if you feel the need. The scrap wood can be simple blocks of wood, wedged into the corners of the T-shape formed by the two 10-foot pieces of wood. Place them in the corners, then screw in two screws from each of the three sides that the wood touches (the front of the 3.5 inch wide board to the back, the bottom of the stand upward, and the side of the 2-inch wide board into the scrap wood).

Place two small pieces of wood on each of the right and left sides of the baseboard. They should be about four inches high and six inches long. Place them about one foot and three inches away from the 10-foot board. Place a foot-long piece of narrow wood between them, also four inches high. This construction will be used as a pivot point for your striking arm (what you hit with the mallet).

Add a small piece of wood--the dimensions don't matter, as long as it is only about two inches thick--to the free end of the 2.5-foot long board. Place it in the center of the board, next to the edge. Screw or nail a piece of rubber onto the top of it. When the striking arm is hit, the lever will come down and hit this, stopping any damage.

Cut out a notch on one end of the 2-foot length of wood. This notch has to slide easily over the eyebolt at the bottom of the 10-foot board, but has to be small enough to hit the spool and not miss it. On the other end, screw a piece of rubber onto the top and bottom of the board. This will protect the wood from the mallet.

Place the striking arm on the pivot point, sliding the notch from Step 10 around the brass wire, and under the wooden spool. Place the rubber end of the board over the rubber-covered block from Step 9.

Add a bell, like those from boxing rings, preferably, to the top of the 10-foot board. Place the bell so its bottom edge will be struck by the spool if anyone hits it that high. Once in place, set the device upright, and stake it into the ground with stakes, or use sandbags to hold it. Swing your mallet and try it out.

Things You'll Need:

  • 10-foot length of wood, 5.5-inches wide by 0.75-inches thick
  • Two eye-bolts
  • 10-foot length of brass wires
  • Wooden spool
  • Long-handled wooden mallet
  • 2.5-foot length of wood, 12-inches wide by 3-inches thick
  • 2-foot length of wood, 7-inches wide by 2-inches thick
  • Scrap wood
  • Rubber tubing
  • Stakes
  • Paint/Lacquer
  • Measuring tape
  • Hammer
  • Screws (at least 1.25 inches long)
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Table saw
  • Bell


Tighten or loosen the bottom eyebolt to adjust the strength needed to hit the bell. Do this according to who is going to be using your device--for a kids' carnival, make the tension less than you would if you were going to a real carnival.

If the copper wire is too sluggish, coat it in Vaseline. This will increase the speed and strength of the spool as it shoots upwards.

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