Elliptical LED Table Build (2020)

Samoth311

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Hey, guys. I'm new here, but I'm loving this site!

I just finished my first build this week and wanted to share. We're getting a reunion game together next year with friends. We needed a table, and I needed a project. I went with an elliptical table, which made the build a little more difficult, but I'm extremely satisfied with the results. I hope you enjoy.

I started with three sheets of 3/4 inch 4x8 Birch plywood from Home Depot.

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I decided to make my table 46'x92' to accommodate 10 players. For the ellipse, I didn't like the string method (too inconsistent), and I didn't want the trouble of building a jig. So I used a framing square at the exact center to scribe the arc with a pencil at one end and nails at half the length of the major and minor axis. Here I have some helpers to draw it out:

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This worked perfectly, and I wouldn't do it any other way! With the ellipse drawn, I used a jigsaw to carefully cut out the table:

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I then repeated the process twice more, giving me three copies. I'd use one for the base, one for the playing surface and bottom rail, and one for the top rail.

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I then stacked them and sanded them so that the edges were even.

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I then used a router to round over a few of the edges, such as the top rail, playing surface, and bottom support.

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I got some more help to mark out the top rail (I went with a 5" rail) and then jigsawed it out.

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I repeated the process for the bottom rail/playing surface, and my surfboard starts to look a little more like a poker table.

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For the bottom, I got some stain and polyurethane in one. This was a disaster. I've never used the stuff, and it was both impossible to work with and left the wood looking horrible.

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So, I sanded it all of and tried again with some traditional stain.

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Much better!

I carefully marked my cupholders (I suck at math, and spacing these guys out on the ellipse was not easy) and cut them out with a hole saw.

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I then glued two pieces of 1/2 plywood together (scraps I borrowed from a friend) and cut them into spacers.

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After cutting them off on the outside with my jigsaw, I glued them in place and sanded the edges smooth again.

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I positioned the inside of the spacers, where I wanted my LEDs to sit. I then used a piece of exterior vinyl I got from Home Depot for $5 to run a track on the inside for the LEDs to stick to.

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I'm out of room on this post so I'll continue with part 2 below.
 

davislane

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I wish I had space, tools, and the all important skill set to build my own table. Looks great, welcome to the forum and I look forward to seeing part 2.
 

Samoth311

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[Part 2]

Another picture of the strip for the LEDs, which I had to cut to make room for the cup holders.

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I'm feeling good, so it's time for my second major mistake. The gap between the playing surface and the bottom rail is where my diffuser for the LEDs will slot. The gap created by the jigsaw is not wide enough, and because of the size of the diffuser I bought, I needed to have it raised a little as well. I bought a rabbiting bit for my router that would work perfectly for this.....except that I just glued a bunch of stuff on top of the bottom rail so that I couldn't use my router. It would work to flip it over to route from the bottom either. The glued wood would NOT come off, even with a heat gun and a pry bar. I was pretty depressed and thought I might have to scrap the piece. Then, as with all good thoughts, the solution came to me at 3:00 AM. I just had to cut the inside of the rail free.

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I could then test out the LED diffuser fit after routing my grove.

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I was really excited about the LED diffusers. I went with the Black LED acrylic from Tap Plastics. It's solid/matte black when unlit, but lights up with full color when lit from behind. It's cool stuff!

I could then screw my rail pieces together. I'd use tee nuts to secure the bottom rail to the table bottom.

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I then used expanding foam to fill the voids so that my rail padding would remain even. I hadn't seen anyone do this, but it made sense to me and worked great after cutting and sanding!

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Time for padding and fabric! I use YAT and went with blue speed cloth, Xtreme black vinyl, 1/4' closed foam for the playing surface, and 1" open foam for the rail. Pretty standard stuff.

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I was worried about aligning the pattern just right for the speed cloth, but I just took my time and everything came out great.

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Time for the rail foam. I marked about three inches on the outside and one inch on the inside, then cut it with scissors.

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The vinyl was, by far, the hardest part of this job. I won't give the details of how to do it (many good "how to's" out there) but I again just tried to take my time (and upgraded to an electric stapler).

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Test fit!

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My third big mistake.....I forgot to cut out my cupholders in the rail foam before stretching my vinyl. It ended up okay, I just had to be a little extra careful when cutting them out. This really had me nervous.

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Final part is next!
 

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Samoth311

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[Final part!]

I didn't cut cup holder rings because I didn't need them. With the raised rail, I just cut some blocks to support the cup holders from the bottom.

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Time to attach and test the LEDs. I had two strips of 16" (only about $25 on Amazon) so I doubled up (this was why I used two 1/2 boards rather than one 3/4 board for the spacers--to make room).

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Time to test out the Black LED diffuser. I was worried at this point that not enough light would get through. First the light off.

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Now the light on!

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Wow! I was so happy.

I added some decorative nails to the outside bottom support.

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This is where I'm at now. Still thinking about legs.

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The shape of this table makes it really hard to photograph. It distorts everything!

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed building!
 

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davislane

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Amazing job on the table, but for all that effort it's missing one thing. A custom felt! Check out some of the amazing work @T_Chan has done for other members on here and I'm sure you will be easily convinced that's what's required next after the legs. Thanks for sharing.
 

Buge

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Table looks great. I really like how you did the LED lights. The black diffuser was a great idea :tup:
 

upNdown

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Amazing job on the table, but for all that effort it's missing one thing. A custom felt! Check out some of the amazing work @T_Chan has done for other members on here and I'm sure you will be easily convinced that's what's required next after the legs. Thanks for sharing.
I disagree. Custom felts are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but generally garish. The classic clean look of suited speedcloth is perfect, especially on an ellipse.
 

Samoth311

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I disagree. Custom felts are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but generally garish. The classic clean look of suited speedcloth is perfect, especially on an ellipse.
I considered a custom felt mainly because I wanted a betting line. But at the time I was concerned about keeping costs down. I also wasn't sure how difficult it would be to match the betting line ellipse exactly to the curve of the table. I may consider an upgrade later, but anything I go with will be super simple and clean. I do like the current and simple look just fine.
 

CaptC07

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I disagree. Custom felts are sometimes good, sometimes bad, but generally garish. The classic clean look of suited speedcloth is perfect, especially on an ellipse.
Gaming cloth is a far superior playing surface to suited speed cloth. You are finding issue with the subject matter of the surface not the quality of the material.
 

upNdown

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Gaming cloth is a far superior playing surface to suited speed cloth. You are finding issue with the subject matter of the surface not the quality of the material.
Yes (though I’m not sure about “far superior;” I’ll certainly concede “better.”)
 

Dodger

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Here’s a guy who knows how to make an entrance.

Table looks fantastic! Nicely done. Thanks for sharing your build process.
 
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