I got inspired by Bum Kim's table and decided to do a bit of research on different table designs. I couldn't find an exact match to what I was envisioning for my game room, so I decided to design my own.
- Has to be able to double as a dining table in a pinch (this reason prevented me from building cup holders into the arm rests)
- Total dimensions has to be 6'x4' (Mostly for Armada, but as an avid Warhammer player during the 90's, I have that mistaken idea that I will actually play again - sort of like my gym membership)
- Internal vault dimensions of 5'x3' (So I can play Xwing in the vault if I wanted to, not to mention that Shadows of Brimstone has a very large footprint)
- Inexpensive. Since this was my first piece of furniture since Shop class in middle school (spoiler alert - early 90's), I did not want to make mistakes on expensive wood.... which in hindsight was a very good decision
- It has to be Wife Approved(tm). Many of her choices changed my design mid-build.
- Legs need to be removable.
So based on that criteria, I came up with the following:
Some of the design decisions:
- Since I wanted it to be inexpensive, I went with pine for everything.
- The wife wanted Ebony in order to match with the décor of the game room
- I wanted to use nylon covered neoprene. Wife made an executive decision otherwise. Soooooo 1st redesign to allow a drop in upholstered table top.
- I was hoping to put in cup holders, so I was thinking of trying to build a rail system. I eventually decided against it because of the soft nature of pine. I didn't want an "Oh @#$@" moment if someone (probably me) leaned on something they shouldn't have.
- I was thinking of having interlocking leaves for the cover to prevent spills, similar to one of the posts by Kaiyoot, but Wife Impatience(tm) won out on that too (my not-quite-handyman services are needed in on multiple Honey-Do projects around the house).
- I was going to try to get cute with the legs by tapering them. Wife overruled me. Was a good thing too - hindsight tells me that 4"x4" are a pain to work with.
- I'm tall. I want leg room. I decided to make the length of the legs an inch or two longer to accommodate. I also drilled holes on the bottoms of the legs and installed leveling pads. It works great!
- I was trying to decide how to remove the leaves from the vault. I was planning on using the method of drilling finger holes in center of the middle leaves. My wife came to the rescue and suggested a small finger hole in the corner of the corner leaf. It is actually relatively inconspicuous.
- I priced out all of the material to be ~$250. F-ups, redesigns, and material replacement ended up pushing it around $400.
- Pine warps. A lot. Most of my wood was kiln dried, but still warped like mad. I even found that pieces I had installed on the frame warped prior to installing the arm rests. I did not have a planer, so I tried to cheat it and force it into place.... it mostly worked. The most annoying warpages were the boards I was planning on using for the leaves. Judicious sanding helped, but I had to replace a few boards.
- Pine has sap/pitch. Kiln-drying "sets the pitch" which is the temperature the sap no longer runs as a liquid. If it was not kiln dried (which I found out that a couple of boards for the leaves were not) moderate sanding can release the sap into your sand paper, or worse ( like my poor orbital sander) get sucked into the internals. You can clean the sap up with mineral spirits, but it took me hours to fix my orbital sander.
- Make sure you have all of your lumber before you start fabricating. It is difficult to find untreated 4"x4" lumber (as the most common use is for fence posts) and so I traced out on my plywood the dimensions of the posts in order to cut and fabricate the support structure. Due to poor search engine skills, I was under the mistaken idea that the actual dimensions of a 4"x4" were 3.625"x3.625". Its 3.5"x3.5". Sooooo..... the legs, which would have fit snugly in the socket I designed for them, are loose and wobbly. I ended up having to buy some angle brackets to add stability to the legs.
- Stainable wood putty is stainable, but will not look like what you are staining. I got liberal on the usage of my wood putty to cover screw holes and the occasional mistake with the idea that the stain would make it look uniformly good. Wrong. It looked like crap.
- Sometimes stain just doesn't do the job. I used a pre-stain conditioner with Minwax Ebony stain. After 3 generous coats (which you will see below), the results looked horrendous. This resulted in me switching (at the Wife's request) to a Sherwin William's Oil based Black paint. This results in the money spent on the conditioner, stain and polyurethane sealant being wasted (well, I could return the polyurethane, but jury is still out on whether I should coat the finished product). The results of the switch are excellent, however.
- Make sure you use smaller staples than the thickness of the plywood. I was being lazy and did not want to go back to the store, and ended up using 1/2" staples on a 1/2" plywood for upholstering the microseude. Long story short, plywood fragments could be felt through the microseude and batting.
- Trying to use a pneumatic air nailer to hold the frame in place prior to drilling/screwing is not as easy as it looks. The nails kept trying to shoot in doubles like some movie style assassination double-tap. It failed... badly. And required more holes to cover up with putty.
The table build process:
So I initially took my design and measurements and cut the 2"x4" lumber. I started by tracing out where the legs would be (see lesson learned above) and verifying my dimensions prior to cutting. I predrilled holes for the screws and belatedly started adding some countersinks (Good thing I learned that prior to working on the part of the table people could see).
After that, came the 2"x6" boards for the vault frame. So... this didn't go real well. I tried glue and nails prior to screwing, but it was not cooperating. My wife and I ended up having to hold it in place while I drilled and screwed. Surprisingly, my cuts were perfect and it stayed in square.
After the frame was built, I had to make sure that the plywood still fit - it did. I did end up having to shave 1/8" off of the plywood later to accommodate the batting and microseude.
With the frame built, I had to cut and attach the arm rest supports. I borrowed from Bum Kim's design on this one. I more or less attached one every foot or so.
After that, I installed the arm rests. I used 1"x6" for the arm rests and 1"x4" for the edges.
Now it was ready for sanding and staining. I went over the whole thing with 80 grit sandpaper, followed by 220 grit. Afterwards, I went over it with Minwax Stain Preconditioner then applied the Minwax Ebony stain. I then applied 2 more coats over the following 2 days. It looked bad. Basically "Ebony" made it look blondish charcoal. The "stainable" putty soaked up the stain and it looked dark brown.
After cursing a bit and staring at the stain with universal hatred, the Wife had me go get some Sherwin Williams Black Oil paint. After 2 coats, it looks beautiful!
Now came the play area upholstery. It was basically a batting + microseude + spray adhesive + staples = awesomeness type of job. I was wanting to do blue for the microseude, but the wife forced me to get burgundy. The wife was right.
So there ended up being two problems:
1) see staples lesson learned
2) Wife said it wasn't "poofy" enough (yes, she actually said that).
I had used 1/8" quilt batting, but I chose the looser material and it stretched a bit too much. I had to do the unenviable task of removing the staples and trying to squeegee the batting (because of the spray adhesive) away from the plywood without tearing up the batting. So I went back to Joanne's about bought the more dense 1/8" cotton batting and added it to the existing batting already adhered to the microseude. Use better staples and behold:
After that it was a matter of sanding and painting the legs and assembling in the game room.
I rearranged the room after we installed it, added some better chairs and finished up the leaves. I'll take a picture when I get home - the leaves actually came out pretty nice.
Here is the table with the leaves on in its final location
The table in its final location without the leaves on
Playing Descent 2e Road to Legend on the table
- Last edited Wed Nov 23, 2016 1:05 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Nov 22, 2016 6:18 pm
La Canada Flintridge
Really a nice design. Looks like it will last a million years or so.
Surprisingly, the table really isn't that heavy either.
Twelve spouse interventions mentioned. You have remarkable forbearance.
Congratulations on your table.
Wow! Excellent craftsmanship.