Sunday, April 24, 2016

Steve's Table - In Use!

 Steve's new gamin table got it's baptism of fire this weekend at a Mini-gaming "con" I put on in St Michaels.  I had 13 friends join me for three days of gaming, drinking beer and eating grilled meats - you know, Valhalla.

I'll do a more detailed report on the "con" but this was a test of an annual event I'd like to throw and it seems to ge really well.  We had a total of 13 people attend and we all had a great time.  But more on that in a future post.

Steve's table got's it first use and seemed to do really well.  It's now in Richmond for Steve to finish up the sanding and then apply his stain of choice.

I'll be building another table for Mike (far left in the second picture) as he just bought a house and needs a house warning present...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 9 - Parts List and Build Advice

This post will feature a parts list and some advice on the tools you need to build a similar table.  Before doing anything the most important tools to use are a pad of paper and a pen - draw / list some ideas you want for your table.  Really think through what you want / what you don't need etc.

I tend to spend a week or so planning (my wife calls it day dreaming) and often end up changing the design / project goals several times before I land on what I think I want.  It's a lot less expensive to throw away a design on a piece of paper that a project that is halfway built.

In terms of tools needed for the project, I'll divided them into "got-to-have" and "nice to have".  A reason will be supplied for each "nice-to-have".

Before starting any project like this, you need to have 2 things firmly planted in your mind

(1) An understanding and respect for shop safety:
Power tools can be very dangerous if they are not used in a safe way.  Always wear eye protection (I keep a pair of safety googles with each power tool) and make sure your feet are clear of obstructions when using the tool.  The table is not a good project for a first time wood worker unless you've got an experienced friend to help you build it.

(2) Patience
One of the leading causes of shop accidents is haste - doing things too fast leads to accidents which can be unforgiving when a power tool is involved.  Take your time and don't get frustrated when you make a mistake (I make lots of them).  Have more than the lumber you need for a project on hand to account for mis cuts and always remember it's far better to go to the lumber yard for extra wood than the emergency room.

In terms of time to finish, the table took 3 weekends to completed assemble.  There's another few days of sanding and finishing work to do which will occur onsite at Steve's house.

Got-to-Have Tools:

- Carpenters Square

- Quality Tape Measurer (you use this tool the most, so don't go cheap)

- Hand Saw
- - I've become a big fan of Japanese style woodworking saws but any kind will do - very helpful for small parts or trimmings where using a power mitre saw is unsafe

- Power Mitre Saw
- - I have a big one (12" blade) make sure yours is big enough to handle a 4x4 post and cut 90 and 45 degree angles easily

- Power Router w/
- - 3/8 inch straight bit
- - 3/8 inch T-Slot bit

- Cordless Drill
- - 5/8 inch drill bit for mounting pegs
- - 1/4 inch drill bit  for T-Bolt holes on accessory trays
- - 1/8 inch drill bit for screw guide holes
- - Philips head screw bit

- Rubber Hammer (for "persuading" parts to fit without leaving a mark)

- Block Plane

- 3/8 inch chisel (for cleaning out the grooves)

- Clamps, lots of clamps

- Philips head screw driver

- Hand files

- Sanding Blocks ( pieces of scrap (usually a 6 inch length of 1x2 with sand paper wrapped around it)
- - 150 grit sand paper
- - 220 grit sand paper


- Table Saw
Really helps with building the accessory trays, cutting the mounting lip

- Router Table
You can cut all the grooves needed with a standard router and guide but a router table makes it a lot easier, faster, more accurate and safer - other than than that there's no real difference.  Rumors that I used this project as a way to justify to my wife the purchase of a new Rockler Router Table (the Rolls Royce of Router Tables) are true.

- Nail Gun
For this project I wanted to go with no visible screw heads or other metal fasteners, using a nail gun will "speed-up" the glue drying process.

- Marking Gauge
Used for accurately marking cut lines where consistency is really important (multiple parts)

Part List:
The costs associated for the parts is based on pricing from a large big box US Home Improvement retailer (Home Depot to be exact).  You can trim the costs for wood by 20% by getting the stock from a lumber yard.

Parts List
Table PartNameNumberCost PerTotal Cost
Top Apron1x6 Pine, 6'4$6.75$27.00
2x2 Pine 6'6$7.96$47.76
Bottom Apron1x4 Pine 6'4$4.38$17.52
1x2 Pine 6'6$3.52$21.12
Legs4x4 Cedar 8'2$22.70$45.40
End Capsscrap exotic wood$0.00
2x4 1/2 plywood3$15.00$45.00
Bottom Shelf
2x4 1/4 plywood3$10.00$30.00
Hardware / Fastners
L Brackets (2 per pack)8$3.97$31.76
3/8 Dowel, 3'1$3.50$3.50
1'1/4 Wood Screws40$0.12$4.98
Wood Glue
Total Parts Cost$274.03
Accessory Tray Parts
T-Slot Bolts (1/4/20, 1.5 inches)10$1.00$9.98
Knobs (1/4/20)10$2.49$24.90
Scrap Wood for the trays $0.00
Total Project Cost$308.91

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 8: Finished! (except for the finish!)

 Whew, the construction part of the game table is complete - this baby's ready see some dice rolled in anger!  The wood's still unfinished, hence the odd title to the post, but I need Steve's input on any color choices since this is going in his house.  I know, I know, it's really his wife's decision but lets go along with the charade.  I've really enjoyed building the table and learned a lot in the process - thanks for being my guinea pig Mr Steve.

 The final tasks for today included putting in some cross supports to support the playing top and storage shelf underneath.  I did this by adding some cleated which I attached with some glue and my trusty cordless nail gun.  A cordless nail gun? - we live in magical times.

 Since Steve has a little one, I'm using 2'xs as the cross brace in case the young lady decides to go climbing.

All nice and square.  I'm using small brass "L" brackets to attach the supports - they don't bear any weight but make assembling and disassembling much easier.

 With the upper and lower cross braces in place, I needed to trim the lower plywood to fit around the tables legs.  Each post is 2/5inched square and i added 1/8 to the measure to account for swelling.

 For precision cuts like these I prefer to do them by hand and have a Japanese Kerf saw (it's like a giant X-Acto razor saw only sharper.  I've just started using Japanese style saws for woodworking and I must say they are superior tools.  I expect I'll replace my entire hand saw set with their Land of the Rising Sun equivalents.

My earlier post today mentioned some wrapping on the larger accessory troop trays.  I cut some angles for my project scrap and now things are nice and square.  Perhaps not the most elegant of designs but it's damn sturdy.

 The end caps are glued into place - I attached them to the short aprons with wood glue - nothing fancy.
 Action shot of the cup holder in use - very exciting, isn't it?

A close up of the cup holder showing the grove and dimple for wine glasses.

 A dice tray on the troop tray!
 A shot of the other trays.
 Here it is again all nice and done except for fine sanding and a finish.

 Close up of the I-Pad stand

I think the corners came out really nice

 I even cleaned up my work bench after the project was done!
 A shot of the cup holder showing how it accepts a wine glass.  The fit was a little tight show I'll file it open a bit more
Without the slot the wine glass looks a bit precarious doesn't it.

I'll be meeting Steve in a few days for a weekend gaming event and will give him the table then.  Once they figure out what type of finish and table top they want I may pop down and finish the project up.

This was a lot of fun and I have some ideas on how to fix up my table, which will be put in place after Historicon.  I've got to make some terrain now!

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 7 - Accessory Trays

Five accessory trays were assembled yesterday: 2 large troop trays (12x14 inches), 2 cup holders and in the center an I-Pad / Rule book holder.  Overall I'm very happy because they fit together and are very study when clamped to the table side.  I dressed all the corners of the trays with 1/2 inch square stock so they mirror the style of the table's corners.

The cup holders have a slot and center depression to accommodate a long stem wine glass so it's more stable.  I've got one more tray to make (a dice tray) and we'll be done with these (for now).

I'm not happy with two aspects of the larger troop trays.  First there's a little bit of wave (curve in the wood) because I used 1/4 birch plywood for the bottoms to reduce weight.  I'll fix that today with some bracing.

The second issue comes from a classic Homer Simpson "Doohhh" moment.  Take a closer look at the two trays - the one on the far left has a lip around its sides while the one on the right seems to be the opposite - why is that?

It seems I initially affixed the mounting plate to the right sided tray backwards - see the lower mounting groove is facing out rather than facing in to the side of the table.  By the time I had noticed this the glue had set so I had to run the piece through my table saw to cut off the top piece, flip it over and attach a new mounting plate.

So we'll now be able to test is Steve prefers either troop trays with walls around the edges or ones with without.  We'll call the second type of tray "free-range" troop trays.

The construction phase of this project is coming to an end - I think I've got about a days worth of work to do.  The remaining tasks include:

- cutting down the 1/2 inch 8x4 ft plywood into 6 2x4 ft panels to serve as the temporary top and bottom.  (I need some input from Steve and his wife on what they want for a permanent top)

- installing the "L" bracket hardware for the top and bottom aprons

- putting in cross-sectional supports for the table top and bottom shelf - no one likes a saggy table top

After that it's all sanding, sanding and, yes, even more sanding.  Hmmm, I wonder where Steve might come in handy?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 6 - End Caps

 A little bit of work Friday night.  I trimmed one corner of the lower Aprons to match (it was about 1/8 inch off by using a hand plane.
 Next the 8 end caps were cut and sized.  These will go in the corners of the top and bottom aprons to dress things up a bit and attempt to make the table nicer than it really is.
 Here's a picture of an end cap in place
Some finish testing - I'm not sure I like any of them at the moment.  One plus of shaping the end caps is that I ended up with a nice supply of "large bases" for big units like artillery trains.

Saturday will be dedicated to adding the "L" braces for support, installing the temporary plywood tops and building a few accessory trays.

The table will get used in it's first game next Thursday so I need to get moving.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Historicon'16: July 14-17 Shameless Self Promotion

Historicon is looming on the horizon again and I'm starting to get excited about going.  This year will be a little different for me as Mike and I have elected to GM games for the entire con rather than just put on one or two.

As I've mentioned in other posts, I find that I like running convention games more than playing in them  Maybe it's the control freak in me, maybe its that I don't take direction very well?  It could also be that I like showing of my toys (running a game is the closest thing one can get to "show and tell" from elementary school).  Regardless of the reason we'll be trying a grand experiment of running a total of 8 games over the three day period.  As with most "grand experiments" it will end in either triumph or disaster.  It will be fun to find out.

We'll be running a "big battle" game set in a fictional version of the War of 1812 twice a day on all three days.  On Friday and Saturday evenings we'll use the same table to run a Muskets and Tomahawks game set during the American War of Independence .

The game table will be 6' by 18' long which means I need to add 3 additional 2'x4' panels to my inventory along with some shore line.  I think people will like the tables

The Longstreet ruleset has worked really well for the past two convention games and I'll be using an adapted version to simulate the War of 1812.  Of course, in my version of the War of 1812, events during the Napoleonic wars have played out a little differently (Nelson was defeated at Trafalgar!) and the French have intervened in the War of 1812!

Some may utter "harrumph" and say this scenario is foolish and likely just an excuse to get as many toys on the table as possible.  I have only response to you cranky grognardian wardens of gaming propriety (CGWGP's):

You're correct.

So sign up and enjoy another dramatic clash between Wellington and Napoleon on the Peninsula - it's just the Delmarva peninsula rather than that Iberian one.  I'll post the game ID's when the PEL comes out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 5 - Accessory Rail Access Points

Last night I cut in the access points for the accessory rails on each of the 4 top apron pieces. To do this I built a simple jig.  The bottom part of the Jig is used for drilling out the holes for each accessory piece and the top is used for drilling out the access point so the T-Slot screws can gain entry into the channel.

 The concept makes more sense when shown after the access points have been installed.  Each Accessory tray, cup holder, dice bin etc is slipped into the rails and then slid over and tightened down.

The apron end caps will be cut from these blocks of scrap exotic wood.  I think it's teak but I'm not sure.  I'll need to cut these down to 4 pieces that are 1x1x5.5 inches for the top apron corners and 4 that a 1x1x4 inches for the bottom apron corners.

I've got a giant box of exotic scrap / cut-offs from a lumber yard but really don't know exactly what I've got.  Lets call it "mystery wood" for now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Play Testing Fire & Fury Brigade: The First Day at Gettysburg

 Yesterday I got invited over to Rich's house for a play test of his revised Fire and Fury: Brigade rules, which is coming out in a new version (hopefully by year end).  With the base unit being a Brigade, one can play rather large battles and that's what we did - the entire first day of Gettysburg in 15 mm scale.
 Of course, Rich's tables are really things of beauty - the second picture show missionary ridge across the the top and the town of Gettysburg at the bottom.

Check out the rules at Rich's website: Fire and Fury.

 I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.  I commanded a division form the Union 11th corps and lets just say my generalship was "off" - I got my butt kicked but had a blast.  I also got to meet another local gamer which is always a plus.

 The Brigade level rules are similar but not the same as the regimental but I really liked them.  It was really fascinating to see a"whole Battlefield" play out in front of you.

 My defenses crumble against the onslaught of Early's division.

 Hmmm, I wonder where the confederate attack will focus on?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Steve's Gaming Table: Part 4: The Frame is Built

Whew - this was a busy morning.  The basic frame for Steve's gaming table is complete (except for some decorative finish work.  Here's a shot of the assembled frame - it will all be held together with wooden pegs and some brackets so the table can make it's ways down to Richmond.

 First thing thins morning, I clamped together the top apron to make sure everything fit.  This is always a little scary as mis-measuring of misquoting shows up right about now....

 The width is 48 inches and the..
 Length is 72 - bang on.  To be honest that's never happened before!
 All the top aprons clamped into place .  I'll be using wooden pegs to hold the top aprons on the table.
 The first step is to drill out a jig so the holes are positioned correctly.  The jig will also allow me to use a hand drill which will be a lot easier and safer
 First test of the jig is a success.
This picture shows "A" corner with the page in place for each apron - it now rakes a good bit of force to remove the tops.

 "B" corner - I ran out of 5/8 inch dowel so one of the pegs is a bit sort.  I'll run out to the hardware store later this weekend and replace that bit.

 I then cut the lower apron parts and assembled them.
 The other lower aprons waiting to be attached with clamps.  The 1x2 lip alone each apron will support a storage bench under the table.
 Moment of truth - with all the aprons attached and aligned is the table square.

"A" corner is!
 "B" Corner reporting in "Square"
 "C" in corner is all right angles too..
 And lastly, "D" corner is square also - another first in my furniture making history.

There is a lot of sanding to be done, but I think that's a job Steve can help with!

I need to add some stringers across the gaps to support both the table tops and storage bench of they will sag over time.  I need some input from Steve (and more likely his wife on some decorative choices

- Plywood for the table top or sound we go with something a bit more fancy like stair treads or a nice dark wood

- Do they want exposed attachments (plugs) or hidden ones

- Finish style

- Accessory rail parts