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Subject: My Homemade Game Table (w/ pics) rss

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David Pontier
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So I’ve had this idea in my head for quite a while to build a gaming table. Ever since I played an 8-player game of Twilight Imperium and the guy had to rent a 5-foot banquet table, I had thought it would be nice to have one of those. When I saw that the cheapest I could find them online was $80 (and that was only if I bought 20+ tables) I thought I should build one.

I know I am not a handy man and I have virtually no tools, and if I was going to buy really nice tools, I might as well just buy a table. It would be cheaper. So I needed a very simple design. I settled on two pieces of 2.5 by 5 foot plywood. Placed side-by-side, they would make a 5-foot square. I could cut each piece in to a semi circle and I would have a 5-foot round table top. All I would have to do is brace it together with a few pieces of wood underneath and balance it on a card table.

As you’ll see form the pictures below, it didn’t quite happen that way.

First off, the plywood comes in 4x8 foot sheets. Draw a rectangle on a piece of paper and mark it 4’ by 8’ and try to get two 2.5’ by 5’ pieces. Impossible. My uncut table top was going to be 25 square feet, and I had to by two 32-square foot pieces to make it. It was too inefficient for me. Plus the plywood was too flexible, and if you got it thicker, it was really heavy and expensive. I settled on pine boards. Since I was going to put braces underneath to hold it to the card table anyway, it wasn’t a big deal.

Second, I began having nightmares about me trying to cut an smooth curve. Even if I had bought an electric saw, I still don’t think I could do it. And then when I thought I might try to wrap the table in vinyl, I couldn’t picture a way to wrap a round table without thousands of wrinkles. I decided on an octagon which could be cut with 4 straight cuts. Plus, a 5’ octagon has more surface area than a 5’foot round table, and everyone is still seated 2.5 feet from the middle of the table.

The Home Depot by my work would cut the boards for me. The one near my house will not. They come in nice 10’ sections, so having them cut in half gives you just what you need. Well, almost. Online I saw a 16” wide board, which when finished is actually 15”. Two of those side-by side would be a perfect 30” (2.5’). However, my Home Depot didn’t have them, so I got two 12” boards (really 11”) and one 10” board (really 9.5”). When they were laid together they made two 60” by 31.5” sections. For the braces I got two 8’ 1x2 boards, which were more than enough for the whole table.



I cut the 1x2 (really 0.75 x 1.5) into 22” sections. I knew that I was going to have to tie the two halves of the table together in some way, and I was going to have to brace it to the card table underneath so that when one person leaned on their end, the guy opposite wouldn’t get hit in the chin as the table see-sawed up. So I wanted bolts to stick out of the bottom of the table to screw a brace on and off. To do this I drilled a hole through each of the 22” braces and counter sunk a hole into one end so the top of the bolt would be flush with the top of the board.



I measured my card table (an annoying 33.625”) and then measured the boards about 8 different ways to determine where the braces had to be screwed in place. I was petrified that they wouldn’t be straight or would pinch the card table too tightly so I wouldn’t be able get it on. In the end I just put the card table underneath the board when I screwed them. The braces were placed on either side of the card table so I knew it would be right.



I then screwed down the second board and then repeated the same thing with the other 11” wide boards so I had two 5’x22” sections.



Then I flipped them over and screwed a 7.5” wide board to each. I made sure that the end of the brace nearest the center of the table was 16.8125” from the edge (which everyone knows is half of 33.625”), so that it would butt up against the edge of the card table. In this picture you can also see the two bolts that are sticking up from the first braces.



Then I flipped them over and cut off the corners. The math to cut off the corners challenged my memory of trig, and I had it all figured out for a 5’ octagon, but now my uncut table top was 5’x5’3”. I adjusted the math slightly without redoing it so in the end the angled sides are less than a half inch longer than the straight sides. If anyone in the future sitting at the table decides to measure the sides to see if it is a perfect octagon, I’m going to beat them down.



Here is a picture of how the braces center on the card table.



Now is when I ran into my first an only real problem that I didn’t plan for. The bolts underneath were too far apart for stability. The braces I planed on using were going to be cut from a ¼” board that looks like cardboard on steroids. I don’t know what it is called, but I liked it because it was flexible and would be easy to screw on and off underneath the table. The problem was that there was no support in the center of the table and even with the braces screw tight, the middle of the table could still bow up like a draw bridge. So I had to drill two more holes per side through the top of my table. I dropped more bolts down and then filled the holes with wood glue to keep the bolts from pushing back out.



Then I wrapped each half in black vinyl with a staple gun. I thought I should probably spray adhesive on the wood before wrapping it since it was such a large surface and you might be able to pinch the vinyl in the middle, but I didn’t and I was glad I didn’t. I didn’t clean the first half good enough before I wrapped it and afterward I had to pop off several staples to fish out a chunk of would that was threatening to poke a hole in the vinyl. Had I glued it down first, I would have had to live with the sharp bump, or build an entire new half. In the second picture you can see where the spec of wood was trapped underneath. These pictures were taken before I removed it.


The braces underneath the table were 1.5” tall and hung down past the metal rim on the card table by about 3/8”.



So I bought what I think is some kind of weather stripping that was ½” thick and ½ wide. I applied the stripping to both of the braces.



And then screwed it down tight to the four hanging bolts on each side. I had cut the two braces before I had wrapped the vinyl because I needed to test the rigidity of the table to see if I had to drill the extra holes, which I wouldn’t be able to do if the vinyl was on. Now with the extra thickness of the vinyl between each half, I didn’t think the holes would line up anymore, but they did and created a very nice, tight fit.



Giving me a very acceptable final product:



A couple things I would do differently the next time. Obviously I would have put two bolts into each of the four 22” braces so I wouldn’t have to drill holes in the top of the table. I also would have inspected the boards better. One of the 1x12” boards was flat, but the other was bowed quite badly. I had already cut it in half and begun screwing it down when I noticed how bad it was. The bowed boards took a lot more screws to secure to the braces, and they created an uneven surface where the boards joined together. Once the table is wrapped in vinyl, you can’t see it, but the vinyl was expensive and not everyone might want to do that. A coat of sealant and a large round table cloth would work in place of the vinyl.

I also drew up the specs for the table but I did it based on a 5’x5’ uncut table top (which mine wasn’t), and a 36” card table (which mine wasn’t). Originally I had thought that I would be able to bring this table to a friend’s house and put on their card table to double their seating capacity, but now I am not confident that all card tables are the same size.

A friend at work suggested hinges. I felt there would be three problems with the hinges. While they would hold the two halves together very nicely, they would do nothing to hold the table top to the card table, so I would still need the bolts and braces underneath. The second problem is weight. They are not terribly heavy, but the halves are big and cumbersome. If they were hinged together, then you would always have to carry them together and it would be twice as heavy and cumbersome. Thirdly, I feared that the hinges would put bumps in the middle of the table. Maybe they would be slight, and the same thickness as the vinyl, but then I would have to figure out how to wrap the vinyl around them.

In the end I decided against the hinges. The braces underneath do a great job of pinching the two halves together and since it separates, I get more flexibility in transportation.

Questions? Comments?
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Paul
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Awesome job!

I am planning on buying a premade table cover along the lines of the one you made. I have a chess table that I want to cover for other games. I can get either round, or hex covers for the same price. Do you find the hex shape to be significantly better?
 
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Greg r
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ya did a nice job there thumbsupthumbsup
 
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David Pontier
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LessPaul wrote:
I can get either round, or hex covers for the same price. Do you find the hex shape to be significantly better?


I haven't played on this table yet, and I've never played on a hex table before. I made it a hex table because that was significantly easier to make than a round one. I doubt there is much difference in playability.
 
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M B
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That is a very nice job for not being a carpenter or having many tools. I have the same card table and wondered about something similar to what you did with yours.

I may have to give thsi a try come summertime and can do it in the garage.

Thanks for all the pictures; it will make the job a lot easier to accomplish.
 
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Ben Penner
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Nice work

Out of curiosity, how much did the supplies cost?
 
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David Pontier
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RecklessJester wrote:
Nice work

Out of curiosity, how much did the supplies cost?


The two 10' 1x12" boards were $13 a piece, the 10' 1x10" was about $10. The 1x2" boards were $4 a piece. The board that I cut up for the braces to hold it to the card table was about $5, so all the wood was about $50.

The wingnuts, bolts and screws were cheap (all under $10). The weather stripping stuff was about $5.

The vinyl was bad. It comes in a 56" wide role, which means it is not wide enough to cover the 5' width of the table, but 56" is way more than enough to cover the 31.5" depth of each half. So I ended up throwing a lot of the vinyl away. I bought it discounted at Jo Ann with a 40% off coupon. If your mom or wife shops their, they send out 40 and 50% off coupons each month. But it was $10 a yard, and I needed 11 feet of it.

I also ended up having to buy a staple gun and a new saw and a couple drill bits that I didn't have. So the total cost was higher for me than for someone who already has good equipment.
 
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Meng Tan
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LessPaul wrote:
I haven't played on this table yet, and I've never played on a hex table before. I made it a hex table because that was significantly easier to make than a round one. I doubt there is much difference in playability.

Bad news, mate. That's not a hex table (with six sides), it's an oct table (8 sides).
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Greg Poulos
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I guess there's more to starting a game company than just having a name... :(
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What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, a gaming machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this gamer does is sleep and eat and place little meeples, and that's all.
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meng wrote:
LessPaul wrote:
I haven't played on this table yet, and I've never played on a hex table before. I made it a hex table because that was significantly easier to make than a round one. I doubt there is much difference in playability.

Bad news, mate. That's not a hex table (with six sides), it's an oct table (8 sides).


Dang it! It's "measure twice, cut once", no one said anything about counting!
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Henry Mueller
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I do a lot of wood working and you had better seal the wood as it will without a doubt warp and expand across the cleats. It would be better to use a plywood or MDF material for stability.
 
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Dan Fielding
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So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.
 
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David Pontier
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Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.


I'd say I paid about $80 for it with the vinyl. I'm not counting the tools I bought against it because they will be used for other things in the future, I hope. Plus I got the satisfaction of a job well done.
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Tim Myers
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Nice job!

I am curious about the stability of the card table with your top on it. My past experience with those square card tables is that they are not that heavy-duty.

How sturdy is the the card table with your top on it, does it shake much if somebody bumps it a little?

Are the card table legs stout and sturdy enough for your table top and people leaning on it with their elbows during a game?
 
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Tom Hancock
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Nice job!
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M C
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Game group needed...
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Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.




You seem to have missed the point entirely...
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norman rule
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Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?


Looks to me like he paid less than $100 for the flexibility of having two different table sizes.
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Dan Fielding
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my 4x10 expands to 5x10
 
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Susan
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I think it is terrific! You got what you wanted and get the pleasure and satisfaction of having made it yourself. Way to go!
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Martin
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PROTEIN. WATER. LIQUOR.
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Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.


Sure, but then you'd have an ugly plastic table.
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Celso Távora
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I admire people with the talent for woodwork.

My old man had the gift, but it probably skipped a generation. I am clueless at crafts.

Congratulations! When I am rich, I'll comission you to build many.




...


Any chance for a table giveaway?

(I had to try...)
 
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Scott Bluerock
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neoshmengi wrote:
Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.




You seem to have missed the point entirely...


You too?
 
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Tor Gjerde
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Piqsid wrote:
Here is a picture of how the braces center on the card table.




If the size difference between the card table and the octagonal top had been any smaller, it would have been a good idea to rotate the top 22.5°. That way the legs of the table would go between two chairs when more than four players are seated, and not directly in front of some of them. In your case, it seems that the size difference ensures that everybody can be seated comfortably, though.
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David Pontier
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gjerde wrote:

If the size difference between the card table and the octagonal top had been any smaller, it would have been a good idea to rotate the top 22.5°. That way the legs of the table would go between two chairs when more than four players are seated, and not directly in front of some of them. In your case, it seems that the size difference ensures that everybody can be seated comfortably, though.


Agreed, except that it would make putting the braces under the table to lock the table top in place much more difficult.

The 1/4" board that I used for the braces comes in sheets of 2'x4'. I was frustrated that they didn't come a foot longer and half a foot wider, because a 4' octagon table barely covers the card table. The diagnal of my card table is 47.4 inches. But as you suggest, if you turn the table 22.5 degrees, those legs will be in between. I might make a slight investment in two more pieces of the 2x4' board to try it out. It was only about $5 a sheet.
 
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sbluerock wrote:
neoshmengi wrote:
Gronak wrote:
So you paid something over $100 for a 5' table?

Those less handy can get a 60" round plastic folding table for about $125.




You seem to have missed the point entirely...


You too?



Scraps are my preferred building media - the costs of materials alone makes buying a premade table more cost effective for those who CAN DO NOTHING MORE THAN SMASH THUMBS while building a table.

Watch out for Doors in the Trash - Doors make very good table tops.
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David Pontier
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Wilhammer wrote:

Scraps are my preferred building media - the costs of materials alone makes buying a premade table more cost effective for those who CAN DO NOTHING MORE THAN SMASH THUMBS while building a table.

Watch out for Doors in the Trash - Doors make very good table tops.


With a last name like "Wood" I would have hoped you had a bit more skill in the carpentry arts.
 
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