May 19, 2014

Building Curling Scoreboards

My name is Buck Krawczyk and this is our story of how we made new scoreboards for the Lone Star Curling Club which is located in Austin, Texas!

For years, the Lone Star Curling Club had used dry erase boards and markers at one end of the ice to record our game scores. While it was an accurate and cheap method of tracking game progress, the 20” x 30” boards were too small, and the written scores too light to be easily be seen on the ice unless you were very close to the boards. The LSCC board discussed coming up with a better solution – lightweight, durable, easily stored, capable of adding sponsors (if we ever got to that point), inexpensive per board to produce, functional for both league and bonspiel play, scores on any sheet visible from the opposite end of the ice, modular so that team names could be easily changed each week (or at a bonspiel) and finally, look great, if not professional.

No problem!

Fellow board member Joe Glaeser and I took on the task of making this happen early last year (2013). Fortunately, Joe provided the important stuff – engineering, organizing and leading the building – to actually realize our vision while I provided – ideas. Lots of ideas. And comments. Many, many comments. And painting skills. And the garage to assemble everything for five scoreboards.

Here are the materials and steps we used to build five of these scoreboards. Obviously, you can adjust accordingly to the number you need. For Joe and I – with help from fellow club members Darin Henley, Ken Poklitar and Landon Russell – it was a learning process and there are certainly some things we did (noted in the instructions) that could be improved upon next time. If your club is looking to build some inexpensive, durable, portable and pretty good looking scoreboards, we think this design works pretty well.


We kicked around some ideas and then I played in the Broadmoor Curling Club’s (BCC) High Altitude Bonspiel in late April, 2013. Broadmoor1It was a bit of a homecoming for me as I grew up in Colorado Springs and learned to curl there in the 70’s. It was a great bonspiel but even more important, I learned so much about organizing a ’spiel, prepping the ice (their process was amazing) and scoreboards. The BCC was helpful beyond words. Paula Bloom, president of the BCC, set it up; Scott Stevinson from the Denver Curling Club gave me the lowdown on everything involved with measuring, marking and painting blank ice; Nate Trachta was always there to answer questions or point me in the right direction; and finally, Darrell Levitt was my personal guru and curling concierge the entire weekend on ice prep, scoreboards, and so much more. His insight was invaluable. Thank you Darrell, Nate, Scott and Paula!

The BCC developed a very cool scoreboard system (below) that could be easily assembled/disassembled for their weekly games. They used PVC pipe for the legs and brace, a flexible plastic material for the scoreboard and cards for the scores on each end that attached with Velcro. It was inexpensive to make, looked great and I loved this design as it met many of our requirements.


So I brought the idea back to Austin and after kicking it around a bit (and in typical Texas fashion) we opted to supersize the BCC boards (everything’s bigger in Texas) to meet our club’s requirements. That included being able to see the score of any game from anywhere on the ice and making it useable if we ever got the chance to host a bonspiel.

To make it visible from across the rink, we decided it had to stand at least 4-5’ off the ice and that the numbers for the ends and score had to be at least 5” high or more. I couldn’t find the exact material the BCC used for their scoreboards, but we did find a material at Lowe’s (Home Depot has it too) called FRP – Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic. It comes in 4 ft x 8 ft sheets and runs about $33 a sheet. It’s very durable, flexible and most important, lightweight. We bought two sheets of the FRP to build five, 2’ x 4’ scoreboards (with one spare scoreboard) and used the rest of the FRP for scorecards and team IDs.

Here are all the materials we used/purchased for five scoreboards:
• 10 10’ x 1” PVC (Lowes/HD)
• 2 4’ x 8’ sheets of FRP – smooth on at least one side (Lowes/HD)
• 5 1” Slip T PVC snap on connectors
• 50 ¼” x ¾” bolts and nuts to connect PVC (Lowes/HD)
• 100 ¼” x ¾”w washers
• Large package of Velcro (Lowes/HD)
• Quart of primer paint for smooth side of the FRP (Lowes/HD
• One quart ea. black, red, and yellow latex paint (Lowes/HD)
• 50’ of white braided nylon rope (Lowes/HD)
• 2 10’ x 1” x 1/8” pieces of wood (Lowes/HD)
• 2 packages of ¼” art tape (OfficeMax)
• 2-3” paint brush
• Numbers 0-9 printed from a web template to exact size of 5.25”x3”
• Small package of art paint brushes (Michaels)
• Hacksaw
• Drill
• 3/4” spade drill bit
• 3/8” drill bit
• Exacto knife
• Box cutter
• Scissors
• Plastic notebook covers
• File
• Measuring tape
• Painter’s tape
• Small painting rollers
• Painting trays
• Large T-square
• Small roller (1/2-1”) for art tape
• 5 1 ¼” x 5” clear plastic literature holders

Step #1

Cutting and prepping the FRP

Based on five scoreboards, cut the first sheet into four 2’ x 4’ sections and the second sheet into two additional 2’ x 4’ sections (one spare). We found the easiest way to cut the FRP is using a sharp box cutter and a metal T-square. It may take a couple of passes and be careful to keep the edge of the cut against the T-square to get a straight cut.


Then cut several 4’ x 6” sections of the remaining FRP for the scorecards.

Once the sections are cut, clean off any rough edges with the file and round off the corners. Use the paintbrush to prime the smooth side of the FRP (we used Valspar Bonding Primer) on all five scoreboards and the scorecard sections.


Step #2

Painting the Scoreboards & Scorecards

Once the primer has dried on the main scoreboards, put a coat of white exterior paint on the boards and the scorecard sections (Valspar Ultra Paint + Primer – Satin). After it dries, use the painter’s tape to separate the sections where red and yellow paint will be applied. We used 6”x 6”x 6”x 6” sections for the scoreborads, the top three for scores and ends and the last six inches for scorecard holders, club logo and potential sponsors. Paint the sections according to your club’s needs; for us, it was red and yellow. No need to paint the white sections again, the primer works very well. For the scorecards, we cut the FRP into 6” x 48” sections and painted those as well.


Step #3

Cutting the PVC and wood supports

Cut the 10’ PVC into 10, 5’ sections (1/2 of 3 sections) and then 5, 5’3” sections. With the leftover PVC, cut the remaining sections into 5, 46” sections for the
cross support at the top of the scoreboard. If you want to hide the PVC printing, you can prime it but it will take two coats to cover it. If not, carry on. Cut the wood into 38” strips (prime it if you want it all the same color on the back of the FRP).


Drill a 3/8” hole at one end of each of the 5’ sections of the PVC pipe – 3” from the end. Drill this hole all the way through the pipe. It’s much easier if you have one person holding the pipe and the other drilling. Make sure to keep the drill bit as straight as you can and as close to a 90 angle to the PVC as possible. The second hole should be drilled 20.5” down the pipe from the top of the PVC (17” from the top hole). Same process – drill all the way through the pipe. Drill the second holes at the same spot as the first ones (3” down and 20.5” down) using the 3/4” spade drill bit to create a hole on the outside of the PVC. This will allow you to tighten the bolts. Be careful when drilling the larger holes in the PVC as the pipe doesn’t cut cleanly and needs to be held by one person while the other drills.

Once the bottom spade bit holes are done, drill another hole (for the rope brace) through the PVC using the 3/8” drill. This hole will go 1” down and 90 from the spade bit hole and will be on the side of the leg. Do this below the spade holes on all ten 5’ leg sections. For the 5’3” back leg sections, drill the same holes on the side of the legs, 21.5” down from the top of the PVC.

For the 46” cross supports, use the same 3/8” drill bit and drill holes 2.5” (and all the way through the pipe) from each end. Then using the 3/4” spade bit, drill the access holes on the outside of each end of the cross support.

Step #4

Drilling the wood supports

Drill a 3/8” hole at both ends of the 38” sections of wood – 1” from each end and centered width-wise. Using the same bit, drill two more holes 15” from each end. Do this for all five wood supports.

Step #5

Making the numbers

We could not find reusable stencils in the size we wanted (5.25” high x 3” wide) for the scores and the end numbers but I highly recommend that approach, even if it’s making your own stencils to fit the scorecards. We made our own numbers using some number templates found on the Internet but the process was a bit more time-consuming than it probably needed to be. I will share it here but know that it wouldn’t take much to improve upon our approach.

After finding a template online (there are many) I transferred the numbers to a Word doc so I could adjust the size to the exact length I needed. I printed the numbers on paper and cut each of them out so I had a solid guide. I knew the paper wouldn’t last through all the numbers we had to create so I bought some cheap plastic folders from OfficeMax for $2 each. After taping the numbers to the plastic, I traced the outlines for each and cut those out.


Using the plastic templates, we outlined all the numbers on the individual 48” strips of the scorecards, putting the numbers in a series together and making one extra set. As I said, certainly not the easiest way to do this and while the results were quite good, I’m sure you could save a lot of time by finding a better solution.


Step #6

Painting the numbers #1

Paint each of the numbers you’ve outlined. We did this process manually as well and if you choose to go this route, the results will be good – and long lasting – but it’s time-consuming as each number was painted by hand (this is where extra help is essential). We used a variety of art/craft brushes and a quart of black paint for all of the scores on the scoreboards and the individual ends for each scoreboard. The black paint on the white background required some touchup after the first coat but for the most part, it covered well, especially if a little extra paint was used and time/care was taken in the application. Once the numbers are painted, touched up and dried, use a box cutter and metal ruler or T-square to cut each of them into 3.5” scorecards.


Step #7

Painting the Velcro

To add a nice touch to the look of the scoreboards, we opted to paint the Velcro on each scoreboard where the scores are held. This is not essential to the final product but it does make it look more finished. Separate the hook part of the Velcro from the cloth part and paint the hook part either red or yellow. We used 1.5” of Velcro each of the 10 scores on each board (15” total) x five boards (75” total). Paint each of the hook strips red or yellow (or your club’s color choice) making sure the entire piece is a solid color when dry. If not, add more paint.

Step #8

Adding the Art Tape

Mark the center section of the board Use the ¼” art tape to make the lines separating the red section on top, the center (ends) section and the yellow section on the bottom. Mark off 15” from the left edge of the center white section and then 10, 3.5” sections next to it for the 10 end numbers. When applying the art tape, be careful not to stretch the tape or it will contract and come loose later. Once it’s applied, roll the tape to help it adhere to the board. We used a kitchen rolling pin. (Note – we have used the boards for nearly six months and stored them inside the rink and have had no issues with the tape coming up).


Step #9

Adding the Velcro

When the Velcro has fully dried, cut it into 1” strips and attach the “hook” part of the Velcro strips ¾” from the top of the red and yellow sections of the scoreboard. For the larger rectangular sections on the left side, use two strips and attach them 1 3/4” from the top of the red and yellow sections and two strips ¾” from the bottom. These will be used to hold the cards with team names.

Do the same with the scorecards, attaching the 1” cloth strips to the center of each 3.5” scorecard. When the scores are put on the corresponding end, they will align perfectly. Also make a 3” square of cut Velcro pieces and add to the lower left corner of the scoreboard and attach it to the acrylic scorecard holder.

Step #10

Cut the team name cards

Using some leftover FRP, cut the team name cards into 4” x 14” sections. We let the teams paint their own names on the cards (we were tired of painting). Add the cloth Velcro so that it aligns with the ones already attached to the scoreboards.

Step #11

Painting the numbers #2

We made a separate plastic template for the end numbers and the “score” that we painted onto the 15” middle section of the scoreboard. We used the same font from the larger scorecard numbers but reduced the size to approx. 4.5”h x 2.5”w. The word “score” had letters that were approximately 2.5”h x 1.5” wide and the entire word was 10” in length. Once you cut the numbers and the letters out of the plastic, center both on the middle section of the scoreboards and outline them all. When it’s complete, use the black paint to fill in all the outlines just like the scorecards.


Step #12

Drill the holes in the scoreboards

For the left and right legs, drill the bottom holes 2” from the bottom of the board and 2” from the left and right edges. For the top holes for the left and right legs, drill holes 8” from each side and 5 ¾” from the top of the board. For the top support bar, drill holes in the scoreboard 1 ¼” from the top and 3 ¾” from each side.

For the wood support on the bottom, drill four holes – 6” from each end and 2” from the bottom, and 20” from each end and 2” from the bottom.

Step #13

Assemble the parts

1) Start with the wood support and attach it to the back of the scoreboard using the bolts, nuts and washers. From the front of the scoreboard it’s bolt and washer, and on the back it’s washer and nut.

2) Attach the top PVC support bar with the bolts, nuts and washers – same as above.

3) Attach the top part of the legs using the bolts, nuts and washers, then do the same on the bottom part of the legs. Attach the snap-on PVC connector, centering it on the top PVC support bar. Insert the center leg into the connector.

5) String the rope through the holes on all three legs and determine how far you want the center leg extended. With the leg extended, tie knots in rope on the outside of the left and right support legs (this can always be readjusted on the ice later if needed).

6) Add the scorecard holder to the board.

And voila! You’re finished. Good curling!


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