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Subject: The Time is Now (Building a Gaming Table) rss

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Ernie Darby
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I have been wanting to build a gaming table for a long time. My Dad has always had a wood shop and I always knew it was doable but it was never the right time and I was never in the right place. Well that time is now. Armed with my Dad's knowledge and tools, my "perfect" design, and some help along the way from family I intend to use this forum to document my process (and will continue to edit this post) with pictures along the way.

The reason for this post is that I think I have looked at almost every thread on here about building a table to get my own "perfect" design. I hope that what I have done and learned can help others!

Here is my current table (also built by my Dad)(don't mind the cats)



It is pretty simple just a top (30" x 60") made with reclaimed pine and stained weather gray (as is most things in my house). I really go for a rustic Modern look.

Before I did anything I created a folder and went through these forums and looked at many different tables and tried to determine what I liked and didn't like. I looked at all the professional sites and tables too in order to determine what were must have for me and what would be nice to haves.

Here is my MUST LIST - (and why they were must)

- Vault - I was not super concerned with depth but would be okay with anywhere from 2-3 inches, but I wanted to be able to keep things set up and not worry about them. What's a good gaming table without one! Which leads me to...

- Table Top - I went back and forth between and table top and an insert. I saw the good in both of them and the bad. Ultimately we decided on a top which would be two pieces (in order for it to be easier to take on and off) and would allow for a leaf to extend the table. I do a lot of entertaining and space is a premium in my 900 sq ft condo so the table had to be able to extend to allow for seating for 8-10 people. The issue with going with a table top is that now you have to start considering vault depth and where it might hit people when they sit (more on that later)

- Leaning Ledge - Again I went back and forth with this as it makes the play area smaller and increases the weight of the table but in the end the pro out weight the cons.

- Rails - I know that all people don't like this and maybe a rail system is not as useful as it could but but I think that they are awesome. I like the little decorative look it gives to the table and I like the accessories. I knew this would be my hardest ask but I really really wanted it. With this I wanted accessories: drink holders, wine holders, and bit holders.

My Nice to have list is a little smaller (as so much was in my Must)

-Snack table - Essentially being able to partition part of the table off if I was doing something with a smaller footprint or with just two to be able to have half a table to place things on.


So once I had my list of stuff I knew I wanted and was armed with plenty of pictures I knew I had to ensure I had the space for the table size I wanted. I spend hours with post-its and string to ultimately decide that the playing area would be 30X66 which meant that with leaning ledges we have a 36X72 table. I really wanted a 36" wide playing area but was unwilling to give up my ledge.

Finally armed with all these measurements and printouts and everything I had gathered I went and visited my Dad and we spent about 4 hours working though everything I wanted and how feasible it all would be. In theory my Dad said he could give me everything except the table would have to be in Oak or another similar hardwood if I really wanted the rail system. I'm a pine guy but I relented and went ahead with oak. My dad told me that he would start getting things planned for me but I would have to come back to help him and make sure I was getting what I wanted.

About two weeks later my Dad give me call and sends this picture -



The wood had been planned and he was ready to start building. He also let me know he built a sample leg and wanted to know what I thought (I don't care for a lot of embellishments so I was a little worried but it ended up being fine).

Anyway I get to the house and the first thing is we have to work out some of the immediate details. So we work on the feasibility of the rail system. Let me tell you we almost decided it wasn't worth the trouble but using a Keyhole Router Bit and the Dado blade on the table saw we were able to at least see in theory that we could get it to work.



Once we are able to get that worked out we worked on how I wanted the valut box sides to connect to each other. He really wanted to do just a simple "V" but I wanted a box joint (which looks like really big Dove Tails). We tested it on some pine and I loved the look -



In this picture you can also see the legs which I approved of after a little modification they will be 4X4 of oak and the vault will rest on them for a clean edge and the leg coming right out under the table. (better pictures when we get that far). Using the legs I was extremely worried about my vault depth and people sitting for a nice meal. We ultimately decided for a smaller vault to ensure people could get under the table easily.

Now back to the box joint - which we decided we had to test with the railing and determine the height of the raining for each edge.



At first I was a little put off about how the railing was looking but after looking at it long enough it grew on me and I really like the way it looks. We are keeping the option open to plug it depending on how I feel toward the end of the project.

After getting all that worked out we went to cutting the boards to the right lengths (yes this is me.)



Once we had them cut the fun begin to route the railing in using the routing table. (Dad and Sis at the routing table) -



This was the most difficult thing we did. Due to the hardness of the oak we actually burned out a router and then had to make a trip to Home Depot. We wanted to get a 3 HP router but the max they carry is 2HP. Luckily we make it though the 4 boards however we did mess two boards up and then had to plane and cut a few extra pieces of wood. At this point we were extremely tired.

We starting doing the box joints on the oak but honestly at this point we had been going for about 7 hours and my Dad said he and my sister would try and finish the box joints sometime during the week, as he knew we actually wanted to play some games that evening.

That evening with the rest of my family we played Secret Hitler for a while and then called it an evening. Apparently they want it for the house!

I am very excited about my next visit down. I am hoping to at least get the Vault and legs done and then we can begin work on the table top, leaf, and rail accessories.

Things I am still pondering -

When to Stain?
How I will move it into my 8th floor condo (as it will be heavy)?
Vault Floor? (probably going to do the mousepad material from hook loop)?
Other Accessories for Railing?
First Game on the Table?

I hope to get down there in a couple of weeks and work another day. I will be sure to continue with pictures. Please let me know if you have any questions or advice!

Continued 10/20 -

Well its been a little while since I posted here last but I am excited to say we are 95% there and I am going to my Dad's on Saturday for final touches and putting the vault floor down and should be bringing it up.

Thankfully my Dad was a trooper and knew I was doing was travelling so he has no issues getting everything fitted and rough sanding done. I was pleasantly surprised with the following photos on 9/26 when he shows the gluing and assembly of the box. I was happy with the way the box joints ended up looking.


Notice that we were not able to cover the railing as but I ended up being happy enough with it so we decided to leave it as is

The next set of pictures I received was on 10/3. He was able to complete the box and had the legs attached. (My Dad's finger is showing me the decoration he decided to put in the leg which I liked so much we ended up carrying it out throughout the table.



He also had cut a piece of plywood to fit the bottom which will not be attached. My plan is to cover it with felt and then put the mouse pad material over it.

The next time I went and visited I had gone to Home Depot and had purchased 3 different types of stain, as well as knowing we were going to try and make the table top.

Part of my reason for wanting a new table period was to have a table that could seat 6-8 and then have a leaf for the table which would make it seat 8-10 (as besides board gaming I do like to entertain). So the table top was very important to me.

The next time I went home I worked with my Dad and to be cost effective we decided we would do short board that went horizontally across the table as opposed to verticals (as we would have had to have had 96 in planks). So that day x 72 we planed a lot of wood and got everything cut to the right size. I wanted to table top to be (w/o leaf) 40x72. We were able to get the board cut but then decided to use a tounge and groove method to help the board stay together. We were able to get them grooved that day. In order to speed the process along my Dad did glue them and I ended up with 2-36in sections and 24in leaf. At this point we have not quite figured everything out but we were doing it slowly but surely.

That same day I visited I believe I tried 6-8 different stains on some scraps. I tried everything I had and most of what my dad had (except the dark as I knew I didn't want a super dark table), and could not find anything I liked. My Dad recommended a few sites as well as telling me to go to Sherwin and Williams to get some stain mixed.

Fast forward and my Dad send me some pics of the table with the rough completed table top (I say rough because as we finished it we added some embellishments to make it look more finished). (I can't find those pics right now.

Needless to say I went down last weekend and finally (after 3 more stain attempts) finally chose a color I liked (its very subtle) Pickled Oak from minwax. We also did some finishing on the table top. We decided to attach an additional board to the bottom to both strengthen and take out any bows in the wood and then also put a small edge piece on either end to give it a finished look. It ended up being very very heavy but I was happy the way it turned out.

We did all the fine sanding. We did have a little issues getting the interior railing smooth but I think we ended up getting it pretty good. I was able to finish staining it that day, and then my Dad has been working on the poly finish. Since I was working with stain I didn't snap any pictures after the edge pieces or the stain but here is what it looks like more or less "finished" prior to staining (sorry for the bad pics).



So this weekend I am going home and will just need to do the vault floor which will be felt stapled to the plywood and then on top of that it will be neoprene.

Then it will get brought to my house, and then I am having my brother and sister and her husband (Yes Dad was invited) over for gaming and dinner.

However we are still working with the cup holders. Dad sent me pics today and we believe that they are for the most part completed. He is going to get the stained and Poly'd before Saturday.



I am still hoping for some additional accessories but we will eventually get there.

More (finished) pics to come! I am excited that its so close to being finished!

Throwing up some completed Pics but will do the final write up soon!






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Darren
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Looks great!

I'm curious to how your "leaf" system works. Can't wait to see some pictures of it in action.
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Mike Cook
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Also curious as to how the leaf works. I have seen some systems that have a rail that extends to the side and a leaf can be set on that. Is that what you did here?
 
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Mike M
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Hey Ernie, awesome table! How does the topper stay in place?

In once pic I see it has pieces underneath to keep it from sliding back and forth along the short dimension of the table. Is there anything keeping it from sliding along the long dimension? If so, how do the pieces fit together? It looks like they have a tongue and groove joint to slide into each other, but I don't see how that could work if they also hug the short side of the table like they do the long side.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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Ernie Darby
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Not sure I can help a Tech fan (Go Dawgs!).

Underneath (what you can't see) there are some catches. It's two pieces that fit together with the groove. Its so heavy it slides a little but easy to bump back it place. Also along the edge the lip hold it in place as well.

Does that makes sense? I can take pic of the bottom if it would help.

In other news the top did warp a little so I think we are going to have to rebuild the top so its actually flat.

Good Luck!

Backlash27 wrote:
Hey Ernie, awesome table! How does the topper stay in place?

In once pic I see it has pieces underneath to keep it from sliding back and forth along the short dimension of the table. Is there anything keeping it from sliding along the long dimension? If so, how do the pieces fit together? It looks like they have a tongue and groove joint to slide into each other, but I don't see how that could work if they also hug the short side of the table like they do the long side.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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Mike M
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Ha, I didn't even notice your UGA logo.

A pic would definitely help if you have one or can take one. For the warping, do you think having 3 or 4 smaller pieces to the top would help? Or how are you planning to change it when you rebuild it (if at all)?

diometes wrote:

Underneath (what you can't see) there are some catches. It's two pieces that fit together with the groove. Its so heavy it slides a little but easy to bump back it place. Also along the edge the lip hold it in place as well.

Does that makes sense? I can take pic of the bottom if it would help.

In other news the top did warp a little so I think we are going to have to rebuild the top so its actually flat.

Backlash27 wrote:
Hey Ernie, awesome table! How does the topper stay in place?

In once pic I see it has pieces underneath to keep it from sliding back and forth along the short dimension of the table. Is there anything keeping it from sliding along the long dimension? If so, how do the pieces fit together? It looks like they have a tongue and groove joint to slide into each other, but I don't see how that could work if they also hug the short side of the table like they do the long side.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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Ernie Darby
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My dad has a saw mill and we are just starting from scratch. He has some that apparently should be completely dry (he says). We did notice a little bowing but after putting the lip around it, it really straightened out and then over a few months its like a marble will roll to the middle. Not bad enough to not use it but def noticeable.

I will try and take a pick tonight to show the edges better and underneath the top as well as the warping.

Backlash27 wrote:
Ha, I didn't even notice your UGA logo.

A pic would definitely help if you have one or can take one. For the warping, do you think having 3 or 4 smaller pieces to the top would help? Or how are you planning to change it when you rebuild it (if at all)?

diometes wrote:

Underneath (what you can't see) there are some catches. It's two pieces that fit together with the groove. Its so heavy it slides a little but easy to bump back it place. Also along the edge the lip hold it in place as well.

Does that makes sense? I can take pic of the bottom if it would help.

In other news the top did warp a little so I think we are going to have to rebuild the top so its actually flat.

Backlash27 wrote:
Hey Ernie, awesome table! How does the topper stay in place?

In once pic I see it has pieces underneath to keep it from sliding back and forth along the short dimension of the table. Is there anything keeping it from sliding along the long dimension? If so, how do the pieces fit together? It looks like they have a tongue and groove joint to slide into each other, but I don't see how that could work if they also hug the short side of the table like they do the long side.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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Darren
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Even completely dry wood will warp as the humidity around it changes. If once it is built you completely seal it, that will help prevent it from warping in the future when the humidity changes.
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Ernie Darby
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We did stain and poly should that not have sealed it?

Because if not that is the same plan for the next top....

Kaiyoot wrote:
Even completely dry wood will warp as the humidity around it changes. If once it is built you completely seal it, that will help prevent it from warping in the future when the humidity changes.
 
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Darren
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Did you seal everything? Top, bottom, ends, etc? What type of wood did you use? (ie. flat/quarter/rift cut)...

Check out this page for more info:
https://www.intouch-quality.com/blog/wood-warping-and-how-to...
 
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Mike M
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Hi Ernie, were you able to get a picture of the underside of the topper that shows how it stays on the table and how the two pieces lock together?
 
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Ernie Darby
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Sorry it has taken a while -

Here are the pics of the underside -

Hope it helps to get the idea -



 
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