Building a 55" round table...looking for some opinions

bostonwinch

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Hey guys,

I'm building a round poker table out of Baltic birch. I found a pretty heavy duty pedestal (looks like it was from a kitchen table). I have a couple questions before I start to make sure I get the right material...

I'm getting 60x60 plywood. I wasn't sure what size to use for the base and then the surface (which will be for the rail, racetrack, and playing surface). I was thinking 3/4" for the base, and then 3/4" for the surface? I just want to know how peoples tables have held up against bowing over the years? I'm worried when I have 8 guys over and all the leaning on the table would cause it to bow over time? I could get 1" for the base, and then 1/2" for the surface for only about $20 more. I know that would be more sturdy but the weight might be to excessive to carry? or too much weight for the pedestal to handle?

Also, what type of stain is best used for Baltic birch?

Just looking for some thoughts/opinions and if there is any tricks I should know as this is my first table build. A main concern I have is stapling the upholstery around the foam to the underside of the table, as I would want a nice tight and professional look.

Thanks
 

allforcharity

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Hello and welcome! Where in Canada are you?

Good luck with your project. I know almost zero about woodwork. But I'm pretty sure our resident Canadian expert @T_Chan uses 3/4" for just about everything. He hosts multi-table tournaments every month for years. Having been there myself, I can say that the average player is not your 'wee delicate body type' and the tables look as sturdy as ever. As long as you've got good base support, you should never see bowing with normal use.

P.S. I wasn't calling anybody 'fat'. I have other euphemisms.
 

bostonwinch

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Haha I'm from Winnipeg MB. Much colder here than BC. I guess I should explain my initial plans a little more. So I would take my first 3/4" sheet of 5x5 plywood and make it 55" round. That would be my base. Then on the second sheet I would again cut a 3/4" sheet 55" round, but cut off the exterior 8" of it for the rail. With what is left I would cut 10" of the remaining exterior for my racetrack. This would leave me with 37" left for my playing surface. I would glue 1/4" waterproof foam for this 37" piece, cut it flush to the edge of the plywood, and then cover it with my felt. I would use nuts and bolts to fasten the playing surface and rail to my base, and wood glue for my racetrack. The sites I have visited have suggested leaving 2" extra foam on the outside of the rail, and 1" on the inside. I sometimes see a 2" round strip cut and screwed to the underneath edge of the rail, does anyone know the purpose of this? Should I do it? If not how does the extra foam sit if I just place my rail on top of my base? Also, when I countersink my bolts into the plywood what would be a good way to secure them permanently? (so I can remove the top from the pedestal for easy storage, but also be able to put it back together tightly). This might seem stupid but what about a little bit of contact cement in the hole with the bolt, with a nice flush finish? Sorry I know I am asking a lot, but I want to do it right. I am not a carpenter, but I am an electrician, so I am good with tools but lack some knowledge of wood working. If anyone can help I would really appreciate it.
 

BGinGA

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I suggest that you create a temporary mockup of a 60" diameter table at the proposed height and test it's playability using a chair that you intend to use with the finished product (the model doesn't have to be a full table, or even wood construction). Test dealing, retreiving cards, scooping pots from the middle, etc. You may find that a table that large is more uncomfortable during actual use than you think.

"Get samples" isn't only just good advice for chip purchases. The best (and cheapest) time to correct or change design parameters is before you begin construction.
 

ssanel54

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I would make sure that you enjoy playing on a table with a wooden racetrack. Though they look beautiful, I think many would say they aren’t ideal for actual play. Use the extra money on a custom felt with a betting line.

If you do go the racetrack route, make the inside cut with a router or circle jig, or else it will look crappy if it’s not perfectly round. When using a router you need to account for the gap for your playing surface.

IMO 54-55 inch is perfect diameter for 8 players while still being able to reach the center for pots.

Good luck
 

Richard Cranium

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I built a 54" table about 7 years ago, and used 3/4" 5x5 baltic birch. I used three sheets of 3/4" ply, and one layer of 1/4" ply to match the foam on playing surface.

No sagging or problems, and that includes me catching my kids sitting on the edge like it is a chair instead of a table. /angrydad

See cutaway style diagram here:


The whole build is at a different forum. I've reposted the rail vinyl here somewhere. I could repost the whole build here if people want.
 

Darson

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This is how I would do it:

250301


The purpose of the 2" lip is to seat the rail centrally, making it potentially removable too. It also gives you a place to wrap your vinyl around. Here's a cross section:

250305
 

bigdonkey

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This is how I would do it:

View attachment 250301

The purpose of the 2" lip is to seat the rail centrally, making it potentially removable too. It also gives you a place to wrap your vinyl around. Here's a cross section:

View attachment 250305
Often, the inner section of the rail cutout (round part labeled "Scrap") is glued/screwed to the bottom of the playing surface, rather than fabricating any kind of support braces.
 

Darson

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Often, the inner section of the rail cutout (round part labeled "Scrap") is glued/screwed to the bottom of the playing surface, rather than fabricating any kind of support braces.
Yeah, that's an option and is probably the right thing to do here since it's a pedestal base. I didn't for my build because it would have made the table almost twice the weight which would make moving it a challenge (it's already a challenge!)
 

Richard Cranium

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This works fine, and is how I built my first table. However, you will have a bit of the playing surface plywood not flush with the bottom of the rail.

I think OP was going to only use 2 sheets of plywood so that's not an issue.

If someone wants a third sheet to sit below the rail for nail heads or the look of it a wood base, then you need to use another sheet of 1/4" ply or use spacers in the rail to make it flush.
 

DoubleEagle

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Are you sure you want/need a race track? Makes the build way more difficult, especially for a first time builder.

And there is this in which I am in complete agreement.

I would make sure that you enjoy playing on a table with a wooden racetrack. Though they look beautiful, I think many would say they aren’t ideal for actual play. Use the extra money on a custom felt with a betting line.

If you do go the racetrack route, make the inside cut with a router or circle jig, or else it will look crappy if it’s not perfectly round. When using a router you need to account for the gap for your playing surface.
 

MoscowRadio

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This works fine, and is how I built my first table. However, you will have a bit of the playing surface plywood not flush with the bottom of the rail.

I think OP was going to only use 2 sheets of plywood so that's not an issue.

If someone wants a third sheet to sit below the rail for nail heads or the look of it a wood base, then you need to use another sheet of 1/4" ply or use spacers in the rail to make it flush.
Trimming back the 1/4" foam around the rail before applying the actual playing surface will allow the rail to sit flush with the rest of the table.
 

Darson

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This is how I've always done it because having the rail sit a bit higher than the playing surface drives me bonkers. :confused
I didn't trim back the foam on the playing surface but I did screw it into the rail and the force was enough to squish the foam to practically nothing. There's no real height difference between the bottom of the rail and bottom of the playing surface. I do have a raised rail though...
 

bostonwinch

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Hey guys thanks for the replies. The 2" cut strip underneath definitely makes sense for extra support and keeping the rail/playing surface in place. I have measured out the area in my basement where its going and put down strips of tape to mark it. As for the racetrack, yes I'm definitely set on it. My brother has a gorgeous (but expensive table). I even love how the actual playing surface sits 1/4" higher then the racetrack. Makes it so nice and easy for dealing cards (almost like a pocket for the player to receive them). I'm also putting in cup holders and I'm putting them in the racetrack and not the exterior rail. I think its a good area for your cards/chips/drinks. I'm not to worried about the precision cuts or routering the edge as I will have a friend whose a carpenter help me. I guess the biggest question I have is the 2 sheets of 5x5 plywood. Is this 3/4" for both too much weight? or should I go 3/4" for the base and 1/2" for the playing surface, race track, and rail? I'm leaning towards 3/4" for both. What do you guys think?
 

MoscowRadio

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The playing surface, the racetrack, and the 2" lip all come from the same piece of wood in this instance. The rail and the sub-base come from the second piece of wood. I would highly recommend 3/4" ply for both.
 

Taghkanic

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RE: The pedestal: If you want to be able to remove it easily, look into hanger bolts.

These would drop down (countersunk) from the wood supporting the playing surface to the underside, where you could then drill holes in the pedestal to put nuts and washers on the bolts.

RE: Racetracks: I can’t stand em, but that’s just my taste. The added surface acres makes the table feel roomier and allows for more flexibility as far as how people stack chips, place their cards, etc.

RE: Cupholders: I bought stainless steel slide-under cup holders from Brybelly (iirc). This means only those needing a cup holder has to have one, and the exact position of a seat is less important. They are just metal cups with a sort of thin tail or flap which can squeeze get under the rail, if it is mounted in a way that allows it. Brybelly had two sizes, one for beer bottles and the other for glasses/cans.

RE: Support: For an 89” long supereliptical table I built, I came up with a hack to prevent any sag on the ends, as follows. However, I would be surprised if it was an issue on a 54” round built sturdily.

Anyway, the hack was getting some 1/2 or 3/4” long iron black pipe from the plumbing section of a hardware store. I then secured these to the underside of the table in two tracks using some half-round flanged clamps (if that’s the right term. They extend to maybe 8” from either end.

It’s not the sleekest solution if you are on the floor looking at the underside of the table, but who does that? And it has worked.

For a round table, I’d maybe get three short lengths of pipe and secure them in a sort of open triangle, keeping them far enough back from the edge to be out of view/knee range.

If you had access to some flat iron bars instead (like what is used for overhangs on kitchen islands and a drill press, that might achieve the same thing. What I could find in a local hardware store was too flexible.
 
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bostonwinch

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Do you think pipe is needed for underneath? Seems like overkill. Here is a picture of the pedestal I bought
 

T_Chan

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What's the dimensions of the footprint? General rule of thumb is you want the base to be at least 50% or larger than the top.
 

BGinGA

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Hey guys thanks for the replies. The 2" cut strip underneath definitely makes sense for extra support and keeping the rail/playing surface in place. I have measured out the area in my basement where its going and put down strips of tape to mark it. As for the racetrack, yes I'm definitely set on it. My brother has a gorgeous (but expensive table). I even love how the actual playing surface sits 1/4" higher then the racetrack. Makes it so nice and easy for dealing cards (almost like a pocket for the player to receive them). I'm also putting in cup holders and I'm putting them in the racetrack and not the exterior rail. I think its a good area for your cards/chips/drinks. I'm not to worried about the precision cuts or routering the edge as I will have a friend whose a carpenter help me. I guess the biggest question I have is the 2 sheets of 5x5 plywood. Is this 3/4" for both too much weight? or should I go 3/4" for the base and 1/2" for the playing surface, race track, and rail? I'm leaning towards 3/4" for both. What do you guys think?
That's a full Trifecta for things I can't stand in a poker table:
  • wood racetrack (noisy, hard to pick up cards)
  • raised felt area (can't slide cards or chips easily from personal area to common area)
  • cupholders in racetrack (fixed holes in personal space are catch-alls for cards and chips, and your drink is where the designer wants it to be, not where you want it to be)
And all three result in more damage to cards and chips during play.

Ultimately, it's your table, but I would advise against using any of those 'features' (flaws) in a table design, based on my personal experience.
 

Taghkanic

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Depending on the height of the pedestal, and also how you construct the tabletop, the block of wood might be something you want to remove, or replace with something thinner but more structural. (For example, I’m looking right now at a round metal plate my girlfriend salvaged from a steel salvage place.) One thing I can’t stand is a table which is too high, and I’m reasonably tall.

 

bostonwinch

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What's the dimensions of the footprint? General rule of thumb is you want the base to be at least 50% or larger than the top.
From the bottom of the pedestal (feet) from one side to another is 33". The small piece of plywood on top of the pedestal is 13"x16"x3/4". I think I am going to replace it with something bigger, and more stable. Thoughts?

Not if you double up on the table layer as @bigdonkey suggested. Like this:

View attachment 250808
Yes the table will be getting doubled up like this, with two 3/4" sheets of Baltic birch plywood.
 

DoubleEagle

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Depending on the height of the pedestal, and also how you construct the tabletop, the block of wood might be something you want to remove, or replace with something thinner but more structural. (For example, I’m looking right now at a round metal plate my girlfriend salvaged from a steel salvage place.) One thing I can’t stand is a table which is too high, and I’m reasonably tall.
You want 29”
 
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