Dave Jackson
United States
Olathe
Kansas
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Hey fellow Geeks,

Before I blather on TOO much about this expandable table I made, below are a few pictures actually showing it with the 'consoles' extended and retracted, set up for an 8-player game of TI3. Each of the 8 player consoles can be extended & retracted at any time, independent of the other pieces, without disturbing anything on the console or its neighboring consoles. Totally extended, it creates an outer ring on the circular core table with plenty of individual space for each of the 8 players, complete with a recessed area for their dice, minis, or what-have-you.

This makes the consoles perfect for holding all kinds of off-board personal bits (even drinks!). Retracting a console is done by simply sliding it back and flush into the core table. This gives a player full access to the core table area, provided by the sector of the outer ring previously occupied by the console. This makes it much easier to manipulate items on the core table without go-go-gadget arms, overreaching/bumping things, walking around the table, punching your neighbor, etc. Again this retraction is done without disturbing the console's or its neighbors' contents. Finally, all consoles can be left retracted to make a great 2-6 player circular table. A console or two can always be extended in 2-6 player games to provide an extra sideboard or drink holder. And it's covered in nice soft suede fabric to boot!

Oh yeah, those pics. There are many more along the way in case you decide to further assault your ocular nerves with my formidable textwall! But you'll find an interesting journey if you do, especially if you're into this sort of thing.... shake



And all those consoles retracted (all the stuff's still on the consoles though!):



And now, the long story... (TL;DR !?!??!)

About a year ago I decided to create a gaming table that could be used for our big 8-player TI3 games that we'd hold every few months. I also wanted it to be suitable for any other smaller board game we often played. I felt our typical rectangular tables were uncomfortable to play on; either people were too far from the board, or too far from
other players, or too squished together on a short side, or didn't have enough room to lay out all their off-board space schwag. And all those pointy table edges!

I wanted something comfortable, more social (circular has a small advantage in this regard over rectangle, IMO), spacious but with equal board accessibility for all players, and plenty of off-board space without compromising distance to the board. And most of all (so declareth the wife), something that could also be instantly transformed into a smaller table so it wouldn't be a massive room hog.

Enter my late-night whiskey-fueled mad dream of a circular table with eight retractable, hidden 'pie piece consoles' that extended out much like keyboard drawers. When extended, they would form a seamless outer ring around the core of the table, providing enough shoulder room for 8 sweaty dudes/dudettes to comfortably fit around the table, in addition to an extra territory for off-board pieces for each player (or drinks, very important too!).

So I put my functioning brain cells to work, and came up with this 'design' (term used loosely):



Now, there's extendable circular tables out there which are miles, nay, LIGHT YEARS beyond my technical and woodworking abilities (try a YouTube search... you will be amazed at the craftsmanship). But these are made for people who own several yachts, who don't have normal, middle-class lives like I do. Plus- and this I grudgingly hold onto like a dog onto a tattered chewtoy- they're all BINARY! As in, they're either big, or they're small. There's no in-between. But on MY table, you see, each player can have their console in or out, providing instant, unrestricted access to the smaller core table, and variability in the table shape with smaller numbers of people. Much better fitted to the functions of our wonderful board games. Plus, and this is a big one too, it didn't cost 40 THOUSAND DOLLARS.



I felt a circular table was the choice that best fit all my wishes, both functionally and aesthetically. The real challenge was planning the consoles to slide in without their tracks interfering with one another. Additionally, I had to size the core table so that it would fit 2-4 player games/smaller board sizes with comfortable reach on the edge of the core; this had to be balanced with the space the core table would allow for the stowed consoles. Make the core too small (but comfy for a 2-4 player game), and the consoles would necessarily be impractically small (due to space restraints when retracted without bashing into one another).

I also had to have enough shoulder room for 8 players on each of their console arcs, and enough extra radius on the extension to provide usable extra tablespace. Make the core too big, and well, the core would be uncomfortably big and induce clumsy reaching, defeating the purpose of the extensions and project in general.



This also had to be balanced with the vertical size that the consoles, core table, and whatever structures supporting all that would consume. Make the top of the table too short (but comfy for your average joe/jill to sit at), and all the fancy consoles and jimmyjam underneath would mash into your legs. Too high, and you'd be reaching 'up' to the table on your standard chair (but have plenty of knee-height room underneath). These are the things I had to fool around with. And yes, I made an Excel spreadsheet with formulas to mess around with each scenario, driven by the possible core sizes and extension radii. Glorius min/maxing and balancing! I knew all those board games had been preparing my mind for something.



I finally settled on a 4'6" diameter core with 1' radius extensions on the consoles, making the total extended table a diameter of 6'6". If this sounds like a long way to reach, just remember your console can be pushed in under the core table at your leisure, where you can scoot right up to the core and reach away as if you were playing without extensions! And all without disgruntling your neighbors (making them more apt to destroy your measly diplomatic alien race with their oodles of War Suns).



Anyhow, this would give about a 2'6" arc on the outer edge for each of the 8 players with consoles extended; a comfy distance to house both your body and your off-board pieces. This would just barely fit 4 consoles on each side of the subtable, allowing the consoles to be retracted under the core table to be flush with its outer edges.

For the support structure: There would be a smaller sub-table affixed to a pedestal (which I obtained from an old sub sandwich place. It had previously supported me and my wife's first kitchen 'table' back when we had even LESS money). On this sub-table, four consoles and their rails would be attached on top, and the other four below. Some spacers on top of the sub-table to lift the main core table above the consoles; lazy susan hardware; and finally, the main core table placed on the whole fat wooden cake. The top of the table was 30" off the ground; a wee bit high but not terrible. And plenty of room for knees and legs to slide under. Wunderbar!





Hey look, it's my kid! He didn't know what I was making either.

I decided to clad the table and consoles in a nice, soft, black suede fabric. This stuff is fantastic and I highly recommend it. It has enough grip to prevent rogue slidey pieces, it's got a beautiful texture and appearance, and provides a pleasant tactile element. Each console also has a recess cut into it with a bottom of birch, which I left white with a glaze coating. The recess can house dice or minis or other tall-ish items which you want to fit when the console slides under the core table (otherwise, only a small stack of cards would fit under). You can even put your drink in there!

With all those beautiful and perfectly accurate(?) numbers and ideas bouncing around in my head, I set off to CREATE!




And after about a week of time, several little mistakes*, and lots of whiskey, I had completed it! And just in time for our next TI3 game. I'm happy to say that our gaming group loves it!

(* Did you know the arc/curvature of the consoles' outer edge shouldn't be the same as the curvature of the actual larger circle's outer edge they form? Not if you want them to be flush when retracted with the core table's outer edge, which has a 'steeper' curvature. Hadn't thought of that one when I was planning, luckily it required only a little more cutting to correct.)



If you've read this far, congratulations to you for your perseverance (and thanks for reading)! Hopefully this project will inspire others to create something of their own, or perhaps be motivated to create something better using these ideas! I've already been pitched the idea of iPads embedded into each console, and to that I say... feel free to supply your own iPad

And now, a few more pictures. You may be especially curious about the last two. I give out persistent trophies for certain events occurring in our 8-player TI3 game. The winner gets trophy #1. The unfortunate gamer with the lowest VP gets trophy #2 cry. I've got a few more trophies for our next session for other events! Maybe I'll post them later.


In use! You can see the top left and right players have their consoles pushed in for closer access to the board (even though one is standing.... he's just getting all aggressive)


Master of the Galaxy!


For the poor gamer ending with the lowest VP (or first to spill their drink, as I've recently begun enforcing), a form of protection and warning to others that this individual was delivered a sub-belt beating.



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Jules
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Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
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Wow, that's some high level DIY!
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Joe
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I'm fairly certain this would fall under the "Pyuredeadbrilliant" category.
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Brenden Johnson
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That is amazing and beautiful. Well done!
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Scott Wheelock
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David Malki drew this!
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I'm in awe!

You say "lazy susan hardware." Does that mean that the top surface of the table rotates? Do you find the extend-o-tables are strong enough for people to lean on, or do you discourage that? And would you do it any differently now that you're done, and have played on it?
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Dave Jackson
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swheelock wrote:
I'm in awe!

You say "lazy susan hardware." Does that mean that the top surface of the table rotates? Do you find the extend-o-tables are strong enough for people to lean on, or do you discourage that? And would you do it any differently now that you're done, and have played on it?


Well thank you very much! modest

To the lazy susan: that top table does indeed rotate independantly of the consoles. There's a sliding locking mechanism under the table though which holds it firmly in place when rotation isn't needed. Haven't found the rotation useful yet, but maybe someday some game will make the lazy susan a little more industrious and a little less lazy.

To the stability: I used the super beefy sliding hardware just for this purpose; the $25-a-set stuff at Home Depot (which adds up quickly), about 1 inch wide steel. I couldn't hope to bend the rails themselves even fully extended. The consoles are glued & screwed to the rails in many spots along the entire length of the rail and well into the sub-table, so they can take a hefty amount of pressure even fully extended; even that of your average leaning AP'ing gamer stuck in move-pondering purgatory. However, I haven't tested their limits, and I'm sure with a concentrated effort they might rip free of the 10-or-so screws clamping them into the subtable. So I do tell my buddies to take it easy on them, just in case!

And a side note on that, the table as a whole is quite stable when the consoles are extended and pressure is applied to them. At that length, I was worried the consoles would act as big old levers and rock the table all over. I did have to add some bracing to the edges of the sub table, angled down to the base of the pedestal, to add a little more stability. But I'm pretty satisfied that it's not spinning around like a carnival ride with 8 people randomly pushing on each of their extensions.

Stuff I'd do differently: buy one pre-made! Seriously though, there's some details I'd change for sure. I chose 5/8" mdf thickness for the consoles, to save money and some vertical space over 3/4" mdf. I would definitely change that to 3/4" for some additional screw purchase from the rails to the consoles. Nailing the trim onto the consoles found that 5/8" was a touch small too, making it tough to fire enough nails in without splitting the mdf (another disadvantage of mdf, nail/screw grip). The core and subtables are 3/4" though. As such, the trim is pulling away from the edges of a few consoles; I'll need to go back and glue them or find a thin, long screw solutaion as opposed to the trimming nails. Had I the money, I would have loved to make the consoles a nice hardwood for contrast against the core table in suede.

By the way, if anyone feels like doing something similar or has questions about specifics, please feel free to ask! I'm happy to give advice or more detailed measurements on the thing.


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T B
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See this is what I love. Geek furniture made at home. You obviously have a solid experience in woodworking and design Dave, and if I had to guess at your job, I'd say engineer.

I recently saw the Geek Chic website for the first time and drooled, but after that point I enrolled in a beginner's woodworking course to learn some basic skills & safety.

I've just finished that course and come away with a nearly finished bookcase with an enclosed space on one side of the bottom shelf to put a powerboard where it is both accessible (I hate moving furniture just to vaccuum) and safe from little explorers. All from my own measurements and design.

While I am a fair way away from designing and building a table of this complexity, the want to have a specialised gaming table combined with the unrealistic price of the comercially available ones was what motivated me to do woodworking in the first place.

It's not an impossible dream to get to Dave's level from scratch, people.

Please send me your plans Dave - PMing you my email.

CRC

P.S. My son want me to put some emoticons on this post: goowow
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Nick N
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Very nice, reminds me of this:
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Dave Jackson
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nine9ths wrote:
Very nice, reminds me of this


Haha, yes indeed that is one of those crazy ones I found when I first started looking around to see what was out there. Now THAT is some craftsmanship.
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Dave Jackson
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CapnRedChops wrote:
See this is what I love. Geek furniture made at home. You obviously have a solid experience in woodworking and design Dave, and if I had to guess at your job, I'd say engineer.


Thanks! You are close, I'm both a statistics and comp sci major, so a statistical software engineer. The woodworking/building skills I picked up in a 4 year stint overseas restoring an old 19th century coach house in England that had gone through a fire (that was before college/wife/kids/responsibility). So I guess put those two together, and you get stuff like this. I've also built a few fullsize 4-player MAME cabinets, so that gave me some more experience with slapping together MDF boards.

Quote:
While I am a fair way away from designing and building a table of this complexity, the want to have a specialised gaming table combined with the unrealistic price of the comercially available ones was what motivated me to do woodworking in the first place.


Awesome! There are few things as satisfying as creating something from only an idea in your head and some raw materials, as you know from your bookcase. Good luck to you in your endeavors!

Quote:
P.S. My son want me to put some emoticons on this post: goowow

thumbsup thumbsup

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A Paula G
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Awesome! This design is fabulous.

How did you attach the suede to the tabletop?
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Andy Andersen
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Speechless.thumbsupthumbsup
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Dave Jackson
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gg607886 wrote:
How did you attach the suede to the tabletop?


I kind of did it upholstery-style, by stretching the fabric over the top and stapling liberally just under the table. The trim around the outside also helps keep things snug. Thought that would be better than a glue solution in case I ever needed to replace the fabric. Although I suppose I could just glue another layer of fabric over it, if I felt lazy... I hope I never have to!
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Runs with scissors
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I think that stapling is definitely the way to go.

Excellent job btw. Thanks for sharing.
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CanCon, BunnyCon...BorderCon!!!
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nine9ths wrote:
Very nice, reminds me of this:


Great table OP.

But oh my good that table is amazing...I want to have her babies...on that table. meeple
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Dave Jackson
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Neil Thomson wrote:
But oh my good that table is amazing...I want to have her babies...on that table. meeple


As long as it's not while the table's being manipulated, right? YOWCH
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artisan88 wrote:
Neil Thomson wrote:
But oh my good that table is amazing...I want to have her babies...on that table. meeple


As long as it's not while the table's being manipulated, right? YOWCH


That would make for an interesting explanation at the hospital. Knowing us Geeks though we'd tell them all about the cool table first.
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Jenny Nguyen
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Awesome! After recently drooling over those Geek Chic tables, I too suddenly have urges to make my own. Going to show this to the better half and see if he wants to go raid Bunnings .
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smittenkitten wrote:
Awesome! After recently drooling over those Geek Chic tables, I too suddenly have urges to make my own. Going to show this to the better half and see if he wants to go raid Bunnings .


Awesome - you sound like a keeper. cool
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Jason Clague
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Holy crap, that's incredible! Well done! thumbsup thumbsup
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Andrew Finke
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Great work! Looks very nice and well planned.
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chris brockett
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This table is amazing! Any chance I could get the plans for it?

Thanks,
Chris
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Dave P
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Excellent design and idea! I am going to start building my own this weekend. I might mod it a little, but you pretty much thought it all out very well. I am concerned about weight and moving it about, but it seems pretty easy to modularize.
 
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Tiger Borst
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Illinois
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And thank you for my next project this spring/summer. Exactly what I've been looking for.
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Dave Jackson
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Glad to see the design is still inspiring to some folks! If anyone ever finishes something based off this, please PM me with some pics, it would do my heart well to see the results! Happy DIY’ing
 
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