Let me start this Do-It-Yourself guide by stating that I do not have any advanced training or knowledge in wood working. My father in law and I built a built-in bookcase around our fireplace in our new home; rather he did most of it and I tagged along. But I have made a set or two of cornhole boards in the past. Other than that, I have no previous trade experience. I saw a table on the forums by "Findrodimus" but it had no dimensions or material buy list. I was able to just refer to the pictures and throw together my first gaming table. Hope you enjoy the guide!
-Kobalt 7.25" sliding compound miter saw (recommend a bigger miter saw, read later in post)
-PORTER-CABLE PCFP02003 3.5-Gallon 135 PSI Pancake Compressor
-WEN brad nailer with 18gauge 2" brads (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000IZY4PO/ref=oh_aui_deta...)
-Dewalt cordless power drill (any power drill should be fine)
-Skil random orbital sander
Material buy list
4x4x10 fence post - $14
2x4x10 top choice Kiln dried stud - $4
1/4x4x8 premium prime sureply sheet - $20
1x6x10 "top choice" boards - $7 each / 6 for $42
1/2x4x8 plywood sheet - $17
75 pack #8 x 1 3/4" exterior star head deck screws - $10
Elmer's 8oz wood filler - $6
Elmer's 8oz wood glue - $5
1" metal putty knife - $3
6 foot by 60 inch black suited speed cloth - $29 (ebay.com)
3 foot polyethylene foam roll @ 1/4" thick x 60" wide - $24 (foambymail.com)
8 jumbo 3 5/8" recessed black plastic cup holders - $21 (amazon.com)
3M general purpose adhesive spray - $6
Lenox 3 1/2" hole saw with arbor - $24
Kobalt drill rasp - $4
Manual stapler - $10
1/4" staples - $3
80 grit sandpaper
Olympic Elite Petrified wood stain
1 quart of Minwax water based Polycrylic in clear matte finish
So, when I searched through the 1x6 sections, my Lowe's didn't have any red oak in stock. Not only did I not want to drive to Home Depot for red oak, I didn't want to pay for red oak to use for my first table. I may end up selling this table locally and building another high quality table but this one will last until that day comes. I also recently stained our privacy fence around our backyard and have some Olympic Elite solid gray stain left over that I will spray the table with so the finish in the wood isn't a main focus for me. So with that in mind, let's get started with the guide, shall we?!
For the table frame, I started by taking a 2 of the 1x6 "top choice" boards and cutting them down to size. The two long sides are 5 foot 8 inches and the short sides are 3 foot. The inner boards should be placed where the overhang from the long boards are 4". These were first air nailed to hold them and then 2 deck screws were put into each end. The 4" overhang will allow the support for the arm rails.
Next I cut the inner supports for the base of the playing area. A 2x4 stud measured to 3 foot was cut for the center. Flushed with the bottom of the 1x6 long sides. Like the frame, this was air nailed to hold it in place and then deck screwed to secure. The corners are made of 2x4 stud as well with 45 degree cuts and flush to the sides of the inner frame as best possible (again air nail to hold, deck screw to secure). The short length of each support from side to side is 8". I felt that going shorter may cause the table to eventually sink in the middle and I didn't want to go much bigger in fear that the table would flip if someone leaned to heavily on the arm rails. These inner bracing supports will hold our plywood sheet as the base of the playing area.
For the arm rail supports, I started by cutting the 2x4 stud into 4" pieces (14 pieces in total). The first 4 supports should "continue" the 3 foot short boards an additional 4" on the outside of the 5 foot 8 inch boards. Making sure that the supports are flush with the short boards towards the inside of the frame. For the short sides, I measured 12" from each corner of our 1x6 and place a support. Put a liberal amount of wood glue on the end, stuck to mark, and used a nail gun to hold it in place. I then went back and secured each with 2 deck screws. For the long sides, I measured every 14.75". I've made the supports this way so that I can leave enough room for two cup holders on each corner of the arm rails.
As for the outside of my gaming table, I decided that I would just flush the 1x6 boards at a 90 degree rather than cutting 45 degrees on each end and joining them. It is a bit lazy but being in a hot garage and working alone makes you do some lazy things sometimes. Anyway, I cut 2 boards at 5 foot 9.5 inches and used the rest of those 2 boards to cut 2 more boards at 3 foot 9.5 inches. I first air nailed one of the long sides, followed by the two short sides, and then flushed the last long side as best possible. I was then able to use wood filler on any small gaps and let dry before sanding.
Before making the arm rails, I went around and sanded down all the screw holes and gaps around the outside, top, and inside where the play area will be.
For the top rails, I again got lazy. Rather than joining the corners, I just flushed everything as best possible at a 90 degree that way it would match the rest of the frame. I also made sure that the insides were flushed up as well because it's going to be easier to make the base and game surface fit inside. I measured outside to outside for both long sides. Then measured the gap in between each for the smaller sides. Putting deck screws from the top into the 4" 2x4 supports. On the short sides, I put one screw on each end to keep it from being able to be lifted up. Make sure it stays away from the top edge as it may split the end, driving a screw through that close to the edge.
After the top rails are all on, I filled the screw holes with wood filler, waited for it to dry, and sanded it down.
For the legs, I went with 4x4 posts. Typical table height is ~27" from floor to bottom of the table to be able to slide under and have leg clearance. I'm not typical so I went with a height of 28" for a little extra clearance. Cutting them with my saw was a slight PITA since it's only 7 1/4" and wouldn't go all the way through the 4x4. I had to cut down 2.5-3" and rotate the post to cut the rest of the way. If not done perfectly, will leave a little 'ledge' that needs to be sanded down flush with the rest of the end.
After sanding all of that down, it was time to temporarily screw in the legs so I could cut the rails for the cupholders and then stain everything. I measured 4" on each corner 2x4 support to mark the middle of each. Then marked the side/top of each leg so it's easy to align later. I measured 10" in from each corner and drilled the hole in the middle of the rail using a 3 1/2" hole saw blade on the power drill. Since I bought the 3 5/8" "JUMBO" cupholders (hole supposed to be 3.515" to fit), the hole saw didn't make a big enough hole. Once cut, I set the cupholder on top of the hole and traced the extra amount I would need to take off for it to fit the hole. After trying to do that using a dremel rotary and files, I drove to Lowe's and purchased a rasp. Using the drill rasp and the power drill going in reverse, I carved slowly all the way around the hole, checking periodically to make sure it wasn't going to be too much taken out. I want the cupholders to be tight enough that they can't be taken out without a mallet and punch.
With the holes trimmed and everything sanded down, it was time for stain. I had a Graco X5 airless sprayer (thought I used to stain our privacy fence) but it's such a pain in the ass to prime and clean that I decided to hand brush the stain. I went with 2 coats of stain all the way around. After the stain was completely dry, went with 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic clear matte finish. Once everything is dry, I had to go back and use the rasp again to clean up all the stain that may have went in the holes. Once back to correct size, I used a scrap piece of 2x6 and a mallet to put the cup holders in.
**ROOKIE MISTAKE BELOW** Be sure it's tight but not so tight that it splits the wood
Once everything was stained, I cut the 1/2" plywood for the base of the playing area. Now since my table wasn't 100% square, I measured across in 3-5 different spots to get the dimensions for the base. Without a tablesaw, I took a level and some clamps to make a 'guide' that I could use for my circular saw to make the straightest cut possible.
With the plywood base cut, I drilled a 2" round hole so if the playing area ever needs to be removed to be cleaned, repaired, etc. I could just stick something through the hole to raise it out of the table so I can get my hand underneath it.
So once the base was cut and in place, it was time to take the legs off and move the table into my basement. Once in my basement, I put the table on sawhorses so that I could drill up through the 2x4 corner supports and the base to know exactly where the legs will align. I had some help to get the legs underneath one side of the table and aligned all 3 sets of holes using a 2 very small, long screwdriver. I put the screwdrivers through the base, support, and holes already in the legs in opposite adjacent corners. Using the #10 x 3" deck screws, I connected the base into the supports and through the legs. I also ran 5 of the same screws into the center support.
Once table and base were connected, I measured the inside of the base for the dimensions of the playing area. I made sure that the playing area fit on top of the base and had a little play ~1/8" to account for padding/speed cloth.
Once that was a good fit, it was time to lay out the foam and trim to the playing area. I unrolled the foam and laid on the playing area, placing some weight to help with the foam curling back up. I placed a level in the middle of the foam and sprayed half of the wood/foam with 3M general adhesive. I started from the middle and worked my way out when laying the foam back down on the wood. I made sure there was plenty of adhesive around the edges so that when we cut the foam, it's still adhered to the wood. Once dry, I flip the other half of the foam back and sprayed wood/foam the same way as before. Let the whole thing dry for about 15 minutes.
Once it's had time to dry, it's time to flip it over to trim the excess foam off around the edges. I used the cheap, retractable blade from Walmart because the blade is long enough to cut through and keep firmly against both the wood and foam for a straight edge.
Coming down the stretch to the finish. Lastly, I placed the speed cloth to make sure I had enough to cover all the way around but not too much that it would be difficult to staple to the underside.
Once I was pleased with the amount of cloth all the way around, I brought everything inside to my living room and flipped it over to the backside. I started on one of the short ends and folded the cloth to the backside and ran staples every ~2". Next I did the same thing on one of the long sides, keeping the most tension I could so that the playing area wouldn't be loose or have wrinkles in it. Thirdly, did the last short side, and finally the last long side. With a pack of 1000 staples, I was slightly generous about the amount of staples and may actually go back and place more in to keep the cloth from loosening up.
Put the playing area on to COMPLETE THE TABLE!!!
Great job. The photos are extremely helpful.
Have fun with it!
Nice work! Can you take some images of the finished table (preferable with a game being played) and stick them in your personal gallery? I'll use one of them as the image in my BGG Table List for your entry. Thanks!