Help me build a gaming table
October 29, 2007 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me build a great gaming table.

I'm a beginner woodworker (I've made a workbench so far), and I've been thinking about new projects. I've been thinking about making a table for the weekly DnD sessions I host. This is a bit of a multiple part question as I'm looking for ways to improve it, and also some help on the actual construction.

Here's what I've got so far for things I'd like to include:

I'd like a grid built onto the table, probably with something over it so we can draw on the grid and erase.

I'd like trays for each person with room for a character sheet and slots for dice or pencils(I'm thinking a tray along the bottom and maybe along one side - nothing too deep though), but this might conflict with the next thing I'd like:

If possible, I'd like it to be stored easily. We play once a week, and I don't have enough room to just leave the table out. Ideally I'd like to fold the legs up and put it in the garage.

Here's what I was thinking for the construction:

The workbench I made has a plywood top with a hardboard on top. I was thinking something similar for the table. Would 3/4" plywood with white hardboard on top be good for the kind of table I have in mind? Is B/C plywood ok? That seems to be about all Lowes/Home Depot carry. What could I put over the hardwood that would let us draw and erase? I'd rather not do glass.

For the legs I was thinking 4x4s on hinges, assuming I could find some hinges that locked at 90degrees. Is there any way I can make this work with the pull out trays? I'm willing to do something different on the legs to make it easily storable and keep the trays.

Any easy way to make the dice/pencil troughs without a router? I'm thinking probably not, but I'm not sure I can justify buying one right now.

Thanks in advance; askme's always been good to me.
posted by chndrcks to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Look for plywood suppliers in your area. They supply cabinet makers but generally do not mind selling small quantities to wood workers. You'll find an enormously larger selection, and generally higher quality.

Not sure what to use for the top. I'd actually consider buying a dry erase board and removing whatever frame came with it (if any) and using that. In which case the top of the table doesn't matter since it'll be covered with the dry erase board. I'd put the dry erase board on top, with a wooden frame around the edge, overlapping the top, and I'd try to make it so you could remove the dry erase board, since it will inevitably get messed up I think, if it's used as a table top.

I'll ponder the other stuff and post later if I think of anything.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2007

For the grid, you could cut a depression in the center of the table that would hold a dry-erase board (with the grid in permanent marker). The easiest solution would probably be to cut a hole in both the hardboard and plywood and support the board with slats across the bottom of the hole.

You could probably find some really shallow plastic bowls and mount them the same way for the dice holders. Of course you can't put them too close to the edge of the table or people will hit their knees.

Good luck with this, it sounds like a fun project!
posted by Hermes32 at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2007

Argh, I guess I should preview before I post...
posted by Hermes32 at 2:29 PM on October 29, 2007

The Ultimate Gaming Table
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:31 PM on October 29, 2007

That should be, The Ultimate Gaming Table
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2007

I don't think a dry erase board is what you want - it will get scratched up and not work very well. Dry erase marker works great on glass, which is scratch resistant and easy to clean, and you can overlay it on a basic grid, or a map, or whatever you want.
posted by aubilenon at 4:32 PM on October 29, 2007

OP mentioned he'd rather not use glass.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:48 PM on October 29, 2007

Dry erase boards are excellent for gaming. Don't mark grid lines on it: dremel dots through the white stuff, then Sharpie the dots. This way the lines you draw for the actual map will show up nicely. And depending on where you work, the markers might be free ;)

Plexiglass and overhead markers are a third choice.
posted by fleacircus at 9:29 PM on October 29, 2007

If you want a dry erase surface, definitely don't get a dry-erase board, get a 4x8' sheet of melamine (sold as 'Shower Board') from Home Depot or Lowe's for $15. It's the exact material that dry erase boards are made out of, at like 1/10th the price. I've used it on several nerd-related projects and it's awesome.
posted by Hildago at 11:22 PM on October 29, 2007

Instead of storing in the garage, can you put a finished wooden cover over it and use it as a dining room table or coffee table? That would be less of a pain.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:14 AM on October 30, 2007

Because you want to store this table, it might be a good idea to make it in the campaign furniture style, square construction with recessed hardware and brass reinforcements at corners.

Instead of building one large table construct two smaller tables you can butt together. During the week, they can be used as side tables or stacked in the garage.

Use 1/2 inch plywood for the top - it's strong and makes an excellent base for melamine or plexiglass. Skirt the edge with 1x3 for strength.if you use plexiglass, you can paint lines on the underside to make a grid, then when it's dry paint the rest of the underside white. When you turn it over, you'll have a permanent grid.

If you put molding along the outer edges, it'll help prevent dice from rolling off the table. Use 2x2 for legs, they can slip into sockets in the table's underside. You can use a bolt to secure the leg but it shouldn't be necessary.

You can make drawers on the ends and outer side to hold things.

People need 26-30 inches for elbow room. Also the height of the table will be best from 28-30 inches tall.

Before starting construction, try making a model, either in 1/12 scale or a full scale mockup in cardboard. It'll let you work out a lot of issues before you commit yourself.

Have fun!
posted by Kioki-Silver at 6:37 PM on November 6, 2007

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