Game Table Construction Plans

Gaming / Project Table Plans

Before starting a project like this one, it’s important for you to clearly define what the end product will be used for.  In my case, I wanted to build a multi-purpose table that could be used for both war gaming and robotics.  These purposes require a table that is both very sturdy and has lots of storage for the associated materials.

All of the components used are standard stock lumber / fasteners with the exception of the Piano hinge which usually requires a special order from your DIY store.

The table features the following components:

-       8 foot by 4 foot playing surface that is hinged along one of the long sides to allow access to a 6 inch deep storage area.  The hinged top also allows the tabletop to be propped open and used as a drafting table – my son’s robotics team uses this feature when they are in the initial design stages.
-       A bookshelf at one end of the table
-       Approx 70 cubic of storage under the table that’s hidden by sliding doors
-       The top surface of the table is edged with quarter round molding to prevent dice from falling off and to allow “clip-on” features such as moveable cup holders to be attached to the table.  The edging also acts as a frame to hold sectional terrain in place.

Building Steps

Table Top “Box”

-       Table top: 1 8’ x 4’ sheet furniture grade plywood (use the best you can find for the table top as you’ll be looking at it very often)
-       Bottom: 1 8’ x 4’ ½ inch sheet of plywood
-       Siding: 1x6 Lumber (2 lengths of 97.5” and 2 lengths of 49.5” all ends mitered to a 45 degree angle)
-       Internal support – 1x3 lumber (4-6, 8’ lengths)  I used 1x3 because it’s what I had on hand, the key is don’t skimp on the bracing.
-       8’ of Piano hinge (added later)
-       4 ¾ inch plywood 8 inch squares

-       Attach 2, 8’  and 2, 46.5” pieces of the 1x3 lumber to the ½ inch plywood sheet (I used a nail gun with 1.5 inch nails)
-       Attach 3, 46.5 inch lengths of 1x3 lumber as cross supports every two feet.  These will also serve to help segment storage areas in the table top)
-       Place the ½ plywood with its attached support frame on a flat surface.  The supports should be on top.
-       Affix the 1x6 siding to the supports – the defined lengths and mitered edges allow the siding to go around the plywood frame.  Also use a nail gun to fix the mitered ends to one another to ensure a tight fit.
-       Attach the plywood squares in each corner in full contact with the ½ plywood bottom (on the inside of the box).  These squares will be used in anchoring the legs.  I used both wood glue and screws to attach the squares
-       Go around the top inside of the box and mark at 2 foot lengths ¾ inches down form the inside top edge.  Attached scrap lumber to act as support for the table top at those points.  Leave one of the long sides of the table top box without any bracing (that’s where the hinge goes).
-       The table top is not attached yet


-       4, 36” lengths of 4x4 lumber – these need to be cut exactly the same so if you don’t have the right tools you should ask the lumber vendor to do it for you
-       Top Siding, 1x6 lumber (2, 73.5 inch lengths and 2 37.5 inch lengths all ends mitered cut to a 45 degree angle, 1 length of 36 inch for internal bracign
-       Brass “L” Brackets (8)
-       Bottom Siding, 1x3 lumber (2, 73.5 inch lengths and 2 37.5 inch lengths all ends mitered cut to a 45 degree angle)

-       Flip the table top box over and mark the spots where the legs will be attached (each leg will be placed 1 foot in from the 4 foot side of the table and six inches in from the long side – the table top sits of a 6’ x 3’ leg structure
-       Put the table top to the side
-       Attach the 1x6 and 1x3 siding to the top and bottom outsides of the table legs so the 1x6 limber is flush with the top and the 1x3 lumber is flush with the floor.
-       Insert the 36 inch 1x6 at the center of the top leg bracing
-       Internal support – attach along the inside of the top and bottom siding length of 1x3 plywood to further support the legs,  The support should fit snuggle between each lag and the siding.  This support help stabilize the legs and prevents them from moving

At this point you’ve got a partially built tabletop box and leg frame.  If you are NOT building the table in its final location I suggest moving the parts to where if will be set up now and then completing its construction

-       Place the table top box onto the leg structure and affix with “L” brackets (2 per leg).  It’s important to use screws to attach the legs with “L” brackets as it allows the table to be taken apart to facilitate movement

Table Top
-       Place the ¾ inch plywood tabletop.  It should fit snuggly and be supported by the scrap lumber you attached to the inside of the box earlier.  The top of the ¾ plywood should sit flush with the top of the box frame edges.
-       Test fit the Piano hinge.  You may nee to trim 1/8 of an inch from the table top to make sure the hinge fits.
-       Remove the tabletop and make any required rip cuts to let the hinge fit. 

I cut the table top into a 6’x4’ section and a 2’x4’ section so it would be easier to handle and I didn’t always have to lift the whole table top to get access to some of the storage.

-       Attach the hinge along the inside of the table box (make sure to cut the hinge to match the your table top sections if you’re flowing the advice mentioned above
-       Attach the hinge to the top of the table top and you’re almost done
-       Attach ½ inch quarter round molding along the top of the box siding – this is very useful for keeping Dice on the table and attaching things like sliding cup holders and such.

Under Table Storage
-       This part of the exercise should not feature a set plan.  Each builder should take into account their respective hobby needs and plan the storage space out accordingly.  In my case, I needed a open area with a minimum dimension of 24 inches square to store our robotics’ team robot. 
-       Storage Components
o   The book shelves are a simple box frame built on the inside of the table legs and are roughly 29 inches wide.  I used ¾ inch furniture grade plywood and made the shelves 12 inches deep.  The frame is attached to both legs and tabletop.  Once attached in provides a significant amount of extra support.  For our purposes this is where we do the “heavy” work on the ‘bot”
o   The lower level shelf is again ¾ inch plywood cut to fit to lower frame of the table (37.5 inches wide and 73.5 inches long.  Notches were cut to accommodate the legs and bookshelf unit.  I also put additional shims under the center line of the bottom frame to help support the weight of anything put on the lower shelf.  Sagging bookshelves are a pet peeve of mine.
o   The upper shelf was made with simple 1x2 lumber supporting the ¾ inch plywood platform


aka John said...

Thanks. I don't think I'm going to build quite that big, but your plans will help me figure out what I'm doing.

jmilesr said...

If I was going to start over, the one aspect of the table I would change is the top storage. Having the the tilt-able playing top is very helpful, but the effective 5 inches of storage depth isn't as useful as I would have thought. I might have been better off having more shelf space underneath.

I will likely install some drawers to make accessing the top storage easier.

Good luck with your table!