Detailed Table Build - Raised rail, LED strip, custom cloth (2 Viewers)


Two Pair
Jun 15, 2021
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Hi PCFers!

So what started as an idea to buy a budget poker table off the internet, has turned into an all out table build, and of course seeing all the amazing creations on this forum has led me to add more inclusions into my own design.

I really should add where the idea started - I was going to buy a fold-up like this:

Starting point.jpg

Yes yes, cupholders in the playing surface :eek: I figured it beat playing on a dining table with a cloth over it. But looking at these, the materials are generally quite thin too, and I just thought about people leaning on it (as they should) and the MDF board starting to sag.

So I figured for the same cost (which has since blown out since to PCF and its 'ideas'), I could build something much sturdier and decided that it would be mounted to the current pedestals for the dining table (ie. remove the dining table top on poker night, and mount the table top to the base) - that way it could be stored away easily and brought out when there's a game to be played. I also thought that making it myself, I wanted it somewhat modular, in that it would weigh more and be sturdier due to having several sheets of plywood, but I wanted them to be able to be removed separately for carrying/storage etc. and then bolted together in place when set up.

Here's me pulling the dining table off to check out the pedestal mounting options - I will be making a new center support so that I can bring the pedestals closer together. The dining table is 2400mm long (95"), and I can't store a poker table that long, so it will be shorter.


Ordered some playing surface foam and rail foam (somewhat prematurely before I've even finished the design). If anyone in Australia needs a supplier, hit me up - this came overnight!


Kind of moved the chairs around the area to get a feel for how the space might work. With a chandelier above and the mirror behind, hoping a classy design will go well in this room :cool
Mocked up a bit of a design in Visio to get an idea of the size against the existing dining table (green line) and also wanted to see how much I could shorten the table with the pedestals in their normal position - however, this was before I realised I could bring them closer together.

This initial design was 2100mm x 1200mm (~83" x 47").


And did a rough mock up of the structure of the rail, with cupholders...I'm still not 100% locked in with my design here. Have realised I need more space between the LEDs and acrylic strip to avoid having a dot effect, but i'm also restricted by the cup holders (ie. the LED strip has to pass in front of the cupholders and maintain the same distance from the acrylic all the way around for a consistent lighting effect. Looking at 5.5" rail.


Bought 3x sheets of 19mm (3/4") plywood and 1x sheet of 12mm (1/2") to use as a bit of a test piece (and the 12mm was cheap lower grade stuff).


Cut the test piece to see how it looked in the room as I still wasn't locked in on the size and was considering making it more narrow based on reading here on PCF. I drew the arcs and cut about 2mm away from the line with a jigsaw, then made up a bit of a jig with scrap plywood for the router to cut the arcs more cleanly (the router isn't super powerful so figured removing the bulk with the jigsaw and just using the router for the last few mm would be better).



and the 12mm (1/2") test piece in location. Had a sit at it and flicked some cards, scooped some chips etc. Once taking the 5.5" rail on each side into account, it seems decent, and I wanted to go a wider ratio than the standard 2:1 (8'x 4') due to the shorter length. It stills feels like I might need to shave a little off though. This is 47" wide, so considering going to 44" based on a few comments here on other threads.

Cut the first 19mm (3/4") piece, and managed to balance the phone for a bit of a time lapse video!


Hadn't made the call on the width here (this is still 1200mm/47" wide), so took my time pondering and made the decision to reduce the width to 1120mm (44"). So after cutting all the pieces, I had to go back and not only take the width off, but also re-measure and cut the new arcs :cautious:




and tested back in location at the new width, I think it will be more manageable (easier for me to pick up too!)


You can see that 3 inches taken off the width (half each side) against the original cut here:

Update time, and starting to have a poker table take shape!

So after resizing down to 44" width, I finally got all 3x boards down to the exact same size/shape and finished them off with a LOT of hand sanding to get them nice and flush (the edges mostly get covered but...I'd know :sneaky:).


Because I had done the straight cuts with a circular saw, I was a little conservative on judging the cut line and had left about 3mm (1/8") along the sides...the first side I sanded this back by hand...that was the last time I will do that for any more than a surface smoothing. So on the other side I set up a guide to run the router along and take that 1/8" lip off, and then the remaining sanding to tidy it up only took a few mins.


All pretty and thoroughly sanded :rolleyes:

Marked up and cut the arcs of the rail (140mm / 5.5"), and the set up guide pieces to run the straight cut - this was really slow with many passes, as taking a 6mm router bit down through 19mm while cutting on both sides put the router under a lot of strain.


And finally a racetrack piece ready to pull out.


Also took the router with roundover bit to smooth the rail edges (first one a test piece to gauge the bit size)

Okay update time! Been a slow couple of weeks, but nudging closer to the finish line.

Next up was doing the cupholders. I had seen the idea on here for the double stage and while I've seen some of those marine ones you guys buy in the US, I just ordered a set of jumbo and a set of mini cupholders, with the plan of punching a hole in the jumbo and brazing a mini to the bottom of it.

Luckily a mate offered to use his lathe which made the job so much easier and precise.


The minis actually fit so snugly into the jumbos that brazing wasn't needed, so I went with some epoxy glue instead - plus brazing would've likely left scorch marks so this will do the job and the lip of the mini cupholder will take the weight anyway. I set up a little jig to hold them while the epoxy set, and also put some weights in them to make sure the minis were pulled down into the jumbo while the glue set.


Then it was time to cut out the playing surface - this is because I'll be wrapping the cloth around this piece rather than all the way to the edge of the table. So back to the router jig!


Okay so this bit was really difficult (for me, with no woodworking experience before this). I wanted to put a 4mm groove on the underside of the rail so that my 3mm diffuser could slot up into it (not all the way, so there's no force on it, just a retaining guide for shape).

Before working out how I was going to do this, I flipped over the rail and the outer ring of the playing surface to mark where the diffuser would go. It will be mounted to the edge of the playing surface outer, so needs to align with the rail above it. I marked this out with a pen just to help when setting up the router later.



Maybe if I had planned it all out from the start it would have been easier, but seeing as I had already cut out the rail, I had also cut out my pivot point for the router! This did my head in for a while, but i ended up 'reconstructing' the piece by setting up the rail and the piece I cut out from the middle and bought some 6mm hardwood to use strips as spacers to fill the original router cut between them. Did lots of measurements and made sure it was spot on, and was able to use the original pivot point to cut a new groove! Whew.


Managed to pull it off! :wow:

It doesn't look it, but cutting these strips took me an entire day. I'm sure you guys with the right tools and table saws etc. would knock it over in minutes, but I only really had a router (also have jigsaw but too rough), so I had to measure them up, clamp them with a timber guide and carefully run the router along the get nice straight cuts .


So after buying the LED lights, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. I went with LED 'Neon Flex' over a standard LED strip, as it is set in a silicon tube and essentially 'pre-diffused'. As I have very little clearance behind my diffuser (by design, to also incorporate cupholders - could have gone one or the other, went both), I thought the silicon tube also set behind a diffuser panel would give the desired effect. The only problem is this tubing only emits the light from it's top, and has a solid white material down it's middle, which when set behind a diffuser shows up as a dark strip, rather than a nice even glow.

The neon flex looks like this, you can see the dark strip that I had to contend with...
neon flex.jpg

I took a few measurements and worked out that if I recessed it into a 10mm deep groove, I would hide all of the dark strip and only the illuminated top area would be protruding above the playing surface. I did up a bit of a test piece to see what the effect would look like:


This is the standard colour I expect to use - I think it'll work with the green felt and chocolate brown rail. Light looks nice and smooth, no hotspots or dark strips


Plenty of colour options for fun still.

I was happy with the lighting effect - and that's with only 3mm of the tube showing above the playing surface! So now I took to cutting the 10mm groove around the outer ring of the playing surface. Due to my space restrictions, this would sit only 5mm behind the diffuser! This didn't seem feasible to me at first as recommendations on this site are for 25mm (1") of distance to help diffuse the light, but that's why I did a mock-up test piece first and was really happy with the result - being 'double diffused' removed the need for distance.

Knowing that I could only leave a 5mm (a smidge over 3/16") rim between the diffuser and the LED groove was nerve racking - that's not a lot of material, so I wanted to get it right. Think I nailed it :cool


Laid out the LED strip on it's own (no diffuser panel) just to test the width of the groove etc. and have a bit of play. Will still need to trim the LED rope and hide the excess.



Here's a look at the groove for the LED rope all the way around:



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Alrighty, and tonight with all these grooves and panels/strips cut, I wanted to give it a bit of a test fit with a couple of diffuser panels in place. I haven't glued down any of the riser pieces yet, that will come next, just wanted to see how everything fit together before I went too far and couldn't change riser positions etc.

The piece you see in front of the diffuser came from a suggestion in my other rail design thread, but that piece extends essentially the height of the surface foam that will be applied to the playing surface, so that when the cloth is wrapped around, it gives it a nice edge, rather than compressing the edge of the foam and making a round edge into the diffuser panel - that's the plan anyway!



How's that for minimum diffusing distance!?! :eek:



Only got 2x diffuser panels in place, but can see it gives a nice even glow (that dark patch is just where the LED rope excess is currently, will sort that later on).


Can see only the top of the neon flex tube extends above the playing surface, hiding the dark strip exactly as measured...whew.



and that's it for today. More to follow in the coming days. Really looking forward to getting into the upholstery stage and seeing this thing really come to life!
Haha sorry guys! I had a couple of PMs of a similar nature too.

I am almost finished, and i'm SUPER happy with it! I had a bit of a 2 month hiatus where things paused, but wrapping it up now. Have a heap of pics so will update shortly :D
Great progress so far. Makes me want to take mine apart and make upgrades.
Awesome work so far! Curious to find out how you did the rail. I've built 3 tables, and am planning to make a fourth with a Chanman cloth and a diffuser like this. Just cannot wrap my head around how the spacers to raise the rail work, especially with upholstering (I used a whole extra layer of plywood to make an extra ring).
Just cannot wrap my head around how the spacers to raise the rail work, especially with upholstering (I used a whole extra layer of plywood to make an extra ring).
Yeah I think that's the easy way, as you'll see in my update...Rather than buying another sheet, I used all my offcuts and placed evenly spaced blocks around the table - which gave the benefit of a weight reduction over another solid piece as only 50% material etc. Made it a lot harder and a lot more work though, and I needed other pieces to join around the rim to give me something to staple to rail vinyl into.
Was my last post REALLY July 15? :oops:

Okay so here goes a big update, and I am almost there. Aiming to have it ready for the inaugural game next weekend.

So to create the riser, rather than buying another $100 sheet of plywood, I took all my offcuts and cut a heap of rectangle pieces to place evenly spaced around the table to give the rise. This comes with the added benefit of reducing the overall weight with less material (ie. 50% duty cycle). The rise is 1" / 25mm made up of 3/4" / 19mm offcuts + additional 1/4" / 6mm pieces on top. As the playing surface foam is also 1/4" / 6mm, this will leave me with a final riser (visible light strip) of 3/4" / 19mm.


With the rail piece on top, you can see the structure created by these pieces underneath (which will be covered by the diffuser panel).


There are offcuts, strips and table parts accumulating in the shed now!

Set up a bit of a manual jig with the trim router and cut some more trim / edge banding with 3mm (1/8") ply. At this point, I knew this edge on the riser panel wouldn't be visible and likely covered by vinyl, maybe foam, but I wanted a rigid support if it was to be pushed on, so people couldn't press and feel gaps etc. This is also why the rectangle pieces were used on the riser section (forming the ring around the edge), to give this edge structural support at the top and not have any give if pressed. Over-engineered, of course.


Gluing and clamping the edge banding...bit of a slow process and limited by the number of clamps so just kept coming back every half hour or so and setting the next part.


Edge banding complete here. The washers you can see is me planning out where various bolt holes are going to go (large ones all the way through holding all pieces together, smaller ones holding just the rail section together - to make them modular).

Now to cutting out the 'support rings' I guess you'd call them for the cupholders. Some use them, some don't, but they essentially provide a solid structure to support the cupholders so that pressing a cupholder down hard doesn't press it down into the foam rail further, creating a dent.

I tried a couple of different methods here, starting with two different sized holesaws which I thought would give me the required ring width, but it failed miserably. In the end, precision could only be achieved with the trusty old router!


Here's one of the finished products, as well as showing the holesaw version against the router version...

This one is just a jig I made up to allow me to create countersink recesses for my bolt heads using the router. The jig is to allow the router bit to plunge in without drifting or jumping away.



I did this primarily due to the modularity, where that rail/riser section then has to sit flat on the base piece, so the bolt heads can't be protruding, but I ended up doing this on the underside of the base piece too just for a tidy look.

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This is awesome, thanks for sharing your progress on this. Can't wait to see the final result and probably steal some of your good ideas :)
In a crazy turn of events, I had a heap of offcuts including the big oval piece from the inside of the rail sheet of ply. So I decided to make a second basic table out of the bits I had :wtf: The intent for this was to be able to fit it into the car and being able to easily carry around to a friend's place for some meetups, as I have a few mates who host games on surfaces such as a glass dining table with a table cloth over it (ever wondered what poker chips on glass sound like? No?). If I could easily transport it, it would only have to be better than playing on a hardtop table.


I decided on a basic shape, without any riser, where the rail piece would sit around the playing surface with a lip. As I didn't have enough pieces to cut a third oval, I decided to make one out of the scrap I had. I ended up using some of the larger oval offcuts curved sections, and lined them up as far as they would follow the curve, and then cut them into wedges that each made up a small portion of the oval. Then I glued them into place, filled in the gaps with wood filler and sanded it all flush.



Yeah so in hindsight, this was probably about the project scope I had originally intended. About the same quality as some of the ones I had been looking at online. After my scope creep led to basically casino-quality, I still matched the original project brief with offcuts :LOL: :laugh: I had originally bought some black Suited Speed Cloth of Amazon but later went to a ChanMan cloth, and incorrectly ordered a softer rail foam than I wanted so now I have foam and a felt/cloth for the second table! We'll see how it turns out.
In a wonderful day for mail pr0n, my custom ChanMan cloth arrived! Here I just laid it out on the dining table to have a look. In the second pic, I threw some ceramics on there (I have CPC customs on the way!) which nicely shows the pattern detail outside the betting line. Going for a European style scroll, and it really worked nicely. Will give proper credit tagging Tony and Timinater at the end, but Tim did a wonderful job with my requests. Very happy!

Starting to come together, here's a test fit of the diffuser pieces in the cut grooves (diffuser panel still has protective plastic on it, hence the scraggly bits). First pic is the underside of the rail and riser sections together, and nicely shows the recessed bolt heads which then sit on the base piece. Second pic has base and playing surface added.

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The edge banding around the base piece is the only one that will be visible on the finished product, as the other sections will be wrapped in vinyl. So I applied a stain to this prior to gluing it around the base piece. As I had no way to clamp it, I resorted to good old fashioned gaffa tape, and stuck bits of post it note underneath so I wouldn't damage the edge band.

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To use the legs from the dining table, I have to bring them in closer together as the dining table is a fair bit longer. This meant I had to recreate a shorter version of a bridging piece at the required distance to replace the longer one used for the dining table. I used an offcut to do the same thing with the brace at the bottom. The more rigid the better!


Here you can see underneath with the base piece mounted using the original points in the legs for the dining table, and the additional points I added to my new middle brace.


Then with the playing surface mounted (and bolted down to the base piece), and lastly with the rail section also bolted all together. It all really pulled together nice and tight!


Note: I only just realised that I never took any photos of the bolt installations. I drilled out holes, and glued in threaded inserts like these:
and then cut the hex head bolts to the exact length I needed (by hand with a hacksaw).

These are located in the underside of the rail (through to the bottom of the riser section, and separate ones all the way through to the base), then also on the underside of the playing surface to pull it down onto the base piece (and hold during storage), and finally on the underside of the base piece to mount it to the support stands.
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Time to just loosely sit the new custom cloth on there for a test fit and see how it looks with the diffuser panels etc.


And of course, throw a few Paulsons around for feel. Love the pattern outside the betting line! :love:



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