First Attempt Table Build - Rookie Questions (1 Viewer)

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Hi all,

I'm in the (very) early planning stages for building my first self-built poker table (I already have a refurbished Chanman rental table).

I've read a ton of posts here already, so a lot of the hard choices are already made. My plans at the moment are:
  • Oval build, outer dimensions 48"x96" (should fit 10 players, uses (two) single sheet of plywood)
  • Semi-portable, stored when not in use (the majority of the time)
  • No cupholders in the rail (will use slotted groove swing out wooden trays or possibly magnetic slide in metal jumbo cup holders (slide unders, but attached in a slot under the outside of the rail). I'm hoping for maximum flexibility in cup holder location.
  • No racetrack, cloth all the way to the edge of the playing surface
  • Custom Chanman gaming cloth
  • 1" HD open cell rail foam from YAT (comes in single 54'x108" piece)
  • 3/10 HD open cell playing surface foam from YAT - 3 yds (a bit thicker than 1/4", softer and less likely to permanently dent than Volera)
  • Black Whisper Vinyl from YAT - 3 yds
  • Cheap assed folding legs (for now, may go with Gorilla Legs when I win a big tournament or the weekly lottery)
  • Wooden swing out "legs" for storing the table without resting on the rail
  • Recessed spring loaded metal handles on bottom of playing surface for gripping while moving
I still have a couple of questions:
  • For the playing surface foam, YAT shows that it has nylon laminated on one side. Should the lamination go up (against the cloth) or down (against the wood)?
  • For the playing surface foam, I have seen several options:
    • some builders (@Richard Cranium) extend the foam all the way to the edge of the playing surface oval and "shim" up the rail 1/4" to compensate
    • other builders stop the foam at the inner edge of the upper rail so the rail edge sits a bit lower than the table surface (@T_Chan)
    • most DIY plans extend the foam all the way to the edge but don't shim the rail
What are the pros and cons of each approach?
  • I'm still debating the optimum plywood thickness to use.
    • 3/4" is both heavier and more expensive than 5/8".
    • Would 5/8" be strong enough to prevent warping/bending over time. especially if I use some of the leftover rail cutout plywood as strengthening (2" strips running the length of the playing surface on each side of the folding legs)?
    • Should I use 3/4" for the playing surface and 5/8" for the rail? Would it make that much of a difference to the weight?
    • Doubling up by attaching the 3/4" or 5/8" rail cutout piece to the underside of the 3/4" or 5/8" playing surface piece seems like it would make things very heavy for a "portable" table. What if I used 1/2" for both the playing surface and rail, and then double up for 1" total under most of the playing surface? Would that be too flimsy, or would the rail be too thin?
  • I've seen some builders use T-Nuts or threaded inserts to attach the rail to the table, while others simply screw it together. Is removability that much of an issue that screws shouldn't be used? How hard is it to unscrew 8 wood screws, or is there something else to be considered?
  • Anything that I've missed?
 
I really like the elliptical shape, you really do get better site lines. The jig is slightly more effort, but no more difficult to build.

optimum plywood: The cost difference, IF and it will likely be fine, but IF 5/8s bows or isn't strong enough, is the value of saying 'I should have went with 3/4 instead' worth skipping on? For me it wouldn't be, build it once!

For my table, I used 3/4 Berch as the base, and then I have 1/2 that sits on top of it, the 1/2 is the playing surface. I think have 3/4 rise and I think I used 3/4 for the rail.

My playing surface runs the entire width of the table, so if I had used screws it would run up through the felt and padding, I used Tnuts.

For the record I used Gorilla Gaming legs, best I've ever seen.

20220415_005944-01-jpeg.896217
 
I really like the elliptical shape, you really do get better site lines. The jig is slightly more effort, but no more difficult to build.
I'll look into this. I'm pretty familiar with the process for oval cuts, and just about every table I've seen or played on is oval. But I am open to new ideas if they make sense.

optimum plywood: The cost difference, IF and it will likely be fine, but IF 5/8s bows or isn't strong enough, is the value of saying 'I should have went with 3/4 instead' worth skipping on? For me it wouldn't be, build it once!
Agreed, I don't want regrets. But if 5/8" will work (and looking for opinions on that), then the cost and weight may make it worthwhile. Or not...

For my table, I used 3/4 Berch as the base, and then I have 1/2 that sits on top of it, the 1/2 is the playing surface. I think have 3/4 rise and I think I used 3/4 for the rail.
That's 1-1/4" for the playing surface. Plenty strong, but is it still portable at that weight?

My playing surface runs the entire width of the table, so if I had used screws it would run up through the felt and padding, I used Tnuts.
Don't the bolts for the T-nuts also penetrate the cloth and padding?
 
That's 1-1/4" for the playing surface. Plenty strong, but is it still portable at that weight?


Don't the bolts for the T-nuts also penetrate the cloth and padding?
I can move the table, not sure I would refer to it as portable.

I cut the padding and felt so yes but it’s better than screws if I need to take it apart
 
Another rookie question - I know that you apply spray adhesive to glue the foam to the playing surface wood oval, but do you also apply spray adhesive to glue the cloth to the playing surface foam? If so, do you have to replace the (open cell) foam if you ever change the cloth?
 
Another rookie question - I know that you apply spray adhesive to glue the foam to the playing surface wood oval, but do you also apply spray adhesive to glue the cloth to the playing surface foam? If so, do you have to replace the (open cell) foam if you ever change the cloth?

Watch this, it helped me when installing.
 
Iirc they are different adhesives. The spray for the felt is thinner and acks more like hook and loop rather than glue. The foam adhesive is like a spray on foam and is like super glue
 
Any progress?
I guess that depends on your definition of progress!

I've been spending a lot of time pre-planning everything, and a lot of the time has been spent trying to nail down the optimum table shape and size.

I find that the standard oval "stadium" design, while super easy to build, has terrible sight lines for several seating positions. And I really don't like the ellipse design, because I find the ends are too pointed.

I've more or less decided to go with the superellipse (Lame Curve) design suggested by @Taghkanic (see post https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/table-shapes-a-bit-of-a-rant.22942/post-474148). The biggest challenge was figuring out how to use a router to cut the shapes, as there aren't any available jigs to cut that shape, unlike the ellipse or oval shapes. There was a whole discussion thread on this at https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/how-the-heck-do-you-cut-a-super-ellipse.105025/post-2169222 .

From that thread I settled on the idea of either having a 1/8* hardboard router template made at a local CNC shop and using a guide bushing to cut the shapes, or to use some nifty flexible router strips (https://www.smartsaker.com/products/saker®-woodworking-profiling-strip or https://www.cmtorangetools.com/na-e...xible-templates-for-curved-and-arched-routing ). The latter would require that the pattern be drawn onto the table a distance from the cut line equivalent to the distance from the router bit to the edge of the router base.

So next I need to determine the dimensions that I need for the template or for the pattern to draw the lines. I'm on the steep part of the learning curve with FreeCAD, but I've managed to create a file that shows the outline of the 4x8 sheet of plywood, the outlines of different sizes of standard oval (stadium) tables (48", 46" and 44"), and I've overlaid a Lame Curve that I can manipulate different Y axis (width) and "n" values (the latter adjusts the "squareness" of the superellipse).

Here is an example with a 46" wide superellipse (96"long), with an "n" of 2.4, showing outer (rail and playing surface), inner playing surface and inner rail cut lines (2" bottom rail ring, 5" top rail ring):

FreeCAD Drawing 1 .PNG


I'm going to work on getting this transformed into a 3D model, and then try to convert in into g-code, for the CNC machine or find a way to print it on a large plotter so that I can trace the lines onto the plywood.

Next on the list is to get in touch with @T_Chan and see what his lead time on printing a custom cloth is. I already have a design from a previous cloth that I just need to modify a bit (different base colour, some changes to the layout based on the different table shape, etc.). I also want to learn more about his ultra-cool relocatable detachable under-rail cup holders (
)

So, does that qualify as progress? Not ready to build yet, but getting closer to figuring things out!
 
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I guess that depends on your definition of progress!

I've been spending a lot of time pre-planning everything, and a lot of the time has been spent trying to nail down the optimum table shape and size.

I find that the standard oval "stadium" design, while super easy to build, has terrible sight lines for several seating positions. And I really don't like the ellipse design, because I find the ends are too pointed.

I've more or less decided to go with the superellipse (Lame Curve) design suggested by @Taghkanic (see post https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/table-shapes-a-bit-of-a-rant.22942/post-474148). The biggest challenge was figuring out how to use a router to cut the shapes, as there aren't any available jigs to cut that shape, unlike the ellipse or oval shapes. There was a whole discussion thread on this at https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/how-the-heck-do-you-cut-a-super-ellipse.105025/post-2169222 .

From that thread I settled on the idea of either having a 1/8* hardboard router template made at a local CNC shop and using a guide bushing to cut the shapes, or to use some nifty flexible router strips (https://www.smartsaker.com/products/saker®-woodworking-profiling-strip or https://www.cmtorangetools.com/na-e...xible-templates-for-curved-and-arched-routing ). The latter would require that the pattern be drawn onto the table a distance from the cut line equivalent to the distance from the router bit to the edge of the router base.

So next I need to determine the dimensions that I need for the template or for the pattern to draw the lines. I'm on the steep part of the learning curve with FreeCAD, but I've managed to create a file that shows the outline of the 4x8 sheet of plywood, the outlines of different sizes of standard oval (stadium) tables (48", 46" and 44"), and I've overlaid a Lame Curve that I can manipulate different Y axis (width) and "n" values (the latter adjusts the "squareness" of the superellipse).

Here is an example with a 46" wide superellipse (96"long), with an "n" of 2.4, showing outer (rail and playing surface), inner playing surface and inner rail cut lines (2" bottom rail ring, 5" top rail ring):

View attachment 1131257

I'm going to work on getting this transformed into a 3D model, and then try to convert in into g-code, for the CNC machine or find a way to print it on a large plotter so that I can trace the lines onto the plywood.

Next on the list is to get in touch with @T_Chan and see what his lead time on printing a custom cloth is. I already have a design from a previous cloth that I just need to modify a bit (different base colour, some changes to the layout based on the different table shape, etc.). I also want to learn more about his ultra-cool relocatable detachable under-rail cup holders (
)

So, does that qualify as progress? Not ready to build yet, but getting closer to figuring things out!
Did you end up finding out more about the cup holders? How's the build going?!
 
Did you end up finding out more about the cup holders? How's the build going?!
I haven’t found a good answer yet about the design and building of the detachable cup holders. The build is on pause, as I’m in the middle of building a CNC router to cut the super-ellipse out of plywood sheets.

Check out V1 Engineering Lowrider v3, a do it yourself CNC machine capable of cutting 4x8 sheets of plywood for < $700, with many components printed on a 3D printer!


www.docs.v1e.com/lowrider/
 
Take the extra step to insert T-nuts in your rail, its cleaner and if you end up taking the rail off enough times the screw holes will wallow out from wood screws. Go 3/4 over 5/8 wood, price and weight difference aren't that much to worry about.
 

Watch this, it helped me when installing.
There may be some variability out there on how to build.
I've never put adhesive on the cloth. I pull the cloth pretty taught progressively as I staple it on. So for me the glue would interfere with the cloth stretching. I've refelted several times over 18 years, and always been thankful for easy removal with no glue. So long as you have good padding that is secure to plywood the tension in the stretched cloth keeps it dead flat against the padding.
 
There may be some variability out there on how to build.
I've never put adhesive on the cloth. I pull the cloth pretty taught progressively as I staple it on. So for me the glue would interfere with the cloth stretching. I've refelted several times over 18 years, and always been thankful for easy removal with no glue. So long as you have good padding that is secure to plywood the tension in the stretched cloth keeps it dead flat against the padding.
This type of spray glue wouldn't give you any resistance on peel up for a refelting. It would be the same feeling as pulling painter's tape off a drywall. If you've got a system that works great for you without glue then keep on trucking.
 
If you've got a system that works great for you without glue then keep on trucking

So for me the glue would interfere with the cloth stretching.

The issue of glue holding the felt when trying to lay it flat and tension it seems to me to be the biggest argument for no glue. How quickly does the glue become tacky, and how difficult is it to tension or reposition the cloth (edit - with glue) if needed during installation?
 
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The issue of glue holding the felt when trying to lay it flat and tension it seems to me to be the biggest argument for no glue. How quickly does the glue become tacky, and how difficult is it to tension or reposition the cloth if needed during installation?
Takes quite a while to stretch and staple (for me). I like to take my time and get it right. Maybe an hour or 30 mins if I rush it. Guess would also depend on the type of glue.
 
The spray glue I used, 3Ms super77, sets up tacky in a couple minutes. You’ll do half the table at a time, and the glue will stay tacky until after you’ve done both sides.

I HIGHLY recommend the glue option. It gives you as many times as you’ll need to pull it back and lay it down flat again until you’re happy with it. It’ll remove the risk of the fabric buckling in the future, and most importantly, you’ll be doing enough fabric stretching on the rail to last you a lifetime. Why fight with the playing surface too if you don’t need to?

As far as the plywood goes, I’d go for the 3/4” and not regret it later, coming from someone who rehabbed a table that was built with less than that thickness. My table flexes in the middle and it drives me nuts. Every time someone braces themselves while standing up or pushes their chair back, the table flexes and bows for a second
 

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