Irish's Main Table Build

Irish

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I've had numerous build questions over the years about the main table in my poker room. There's a build thread on an older table forum, but most of the photos were originally uploaded to photobucket and are either no longer available, blurry or watermarked, and the forum itself is not very active anymore and rank with ads. I did that build thread in real time over the course of about 3 months and changed directions a few times, so it's a bit of a mess lol - it is still available here. I had some rare free time this weekend, so I figured I'd take a little stroll down memory lane and try to recreate the build here on PCF. I built this table 10 years, so please forgive the not-so-great quality photos.

Here's what the table looks like today:

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Time to turn back the clock to 2010........

This table build started somewhat on a whim. I had a potential table customer stop by to check out my work and chat about the details for his upcoming build, and he ended up making me an offer on my personal table. Well, in true degenerate fashion, he first tried to talk me into doing a $1000 flip for the table, but I declined on that one. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: I had the itch to build myself a new table, so I took him up on the offer, sold that one and started on the new build the next weekend.

Here are the table specs:
  • 92"x44" 10 man full felt oval
  • 6" wide rail with high density foam & padded suede (recently upgraded to Texuede)
  • 7/8" tall raised rail, solid cherry riser with decorative inlay
  • Jumbo cup holders build into the rail
  • Playing surface padded with ensolite and covered with suited speed cloth (later upgraded to a custom cloth)
  • Custom inverted octagonal pyramid base
  • "The Transformer" sub-base for hiding folding legs to make the table top mobile
  • Shuffle-tech flush mounted into table (added a later date)
  • USB charging ports (added a later date)
There are several great build threads and videos here on PCF with details focusing on the how-to's for making a basic table (overall setup, cutting the main rail cuts, etc.), so most of this thread will focus on the detailed custom areas that I've gotten more questions on.

I typically do all my main cuts out on the back deck to save on sawdust cleanup in the shop. I started by cutting off 4" from both the length & width of three 3/4" sheets of oak ply (base sheet, rail sheet and riser sheet) with a circular saw to get the table from 96x48 to 92x44. If you don't own a 8' long straight edge, the factory cut edge of these cutoffs can double as nice straight edge for routering your inner straight rail cuts.

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The rest of the first day included routering the outer arcs, measuring out and cutting the cup holder holes in the rail & riser sheets, and cutting the inner arcs and straightaways in the rail & riser sheets.

Once all the main sheets were cut out, next up was assembling the rail. For the riser on this table, I went with solid pieces of cherry, inlaid with a decorative wood inlay. The cherry riser pieces were ~7/8" tall and 1/4" wide, so I had to get creative with spacers. Here's a picture of the table section at the rail:

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And an exploded via showing how the pieces separate:

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With this style of construction, you have to make sure rail section at the outside of the rail (lip area) is about 1/4" taller than inner rail (exposed riser), to account for the 1/4" playing surface foam. If the lip area is too tall, the riser won't contact the playing surface snugly, and cards may sneak under the rail. If the lip is too short, you may have a little gap between between the rail and the outer edge, depending on the foam you use for the playing surface. HD foam will compress enough where it's not an issue, but you'll get that gap with firmer closed cells foams like volara and ensolite (which is what I used here). I used 1/4" (7/32" actual) plywood spacers for the main rail piece, and 3/16" hardboard spacers for the riser insert to get both sides to equal out:

Height at the riser area:
  • 23/32" ply rail piece (S1)
  • 3/16" hardboard spacer
  • 23/32" ply riser (S2)
  • 1/4" playing surface foam
  • 1 7/8" total
Height at the outer rail edge:
  • 23/32" ply rail piece (S1)
  • 7/32" ply spacer
  • 7/32" ply riser spacer
  • 23/32" ply lip (S2)
  • 1 7/8" total
I used glue and staples to hold the spacers in place, and then screwed the full rail assembly together and hit the edges with a roundover bit to soften the corners. With a riser this height (<1") and the 3/4" ply sheets sandwiching the spacers on both the top and bottom, you can get away with not having the spacers really close together. Rail assembly pics:





Next up are the cup holder rings, which are glued to the top of the rail. The rings are 3/16" thick and routered from the scrap cutoff corners of 3/4" plywood. These help to give the cups a solid base and prevent them from squishing down too far in the rail padding:




With the main rail assembled, next up is working on the riser. I used a cheap DIY router table & workmate bench to route the inlay channel in the cherry trim pieces for the raised rail.


The inlay I picked for the riser (bought online here) is 1/4" wide and really thin (~1/32" - exactly 0.8mm), so the channel can't be too deep. It took a few iterations to get the depth just right on the router. Then, I clamped a straight edge to the router table and routed the channel down the middle of each trim piece with a 1/4" straight bit:





Test fit:


These trim pieces get glued to the side of the plywood riser. The straightaway pieces are easy enough, but the curved portions need some extra work. I used a kerf cutting technique with my table saw on the back of the trim pieces in order to bend them around the inner radius of the riser. I cut the kerfs a little over 1/4" apart, and about halfway through the trim piece (~1/8"):






This spacing/depth worked OK - I was able to easily install a 4' long piece along one of the arcs, but the second did snap as I was placing it (I almost got there... always buy some extras!):


Next, I applied some wood glue on the edge of the plywood riser and secured the trim with a whole bunch of clamps, one arc at a time. The straightaway portions were done in similar fashion:




And here are some shots after the glue dried and clamps were removed:



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Irish

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After staining the cherry trim and allowing it to dry, next up was installing the inlay, which came in 3' long strips. First I did a dry fit before getting into the glue - and noticed at a few locations, there were some minor imperfections in the router cut and/or a slight variation in the width of the inlay, so it wouldn't fit:


To get it to fit, I used a razor to trim the inlay or widen the channel, depending on which was more practical for each case:


Once I got the fit correct, I used a small detail paint brush to put a very light coat of glue in the channel:



Then the inlay gets placed in the glued channel:


I used a roller to get a good tight fit, then wiped the piece with a damp cloth to remove any glue that had leaked out:


I installed these a strip at a time, then allowed the glue to fully dry. Got a little creative to give me a better working platform, using gravity to help keep the inlays in place while drying.


Once all the inlays were installed, I sealed the riser with several coats of spray on polyurethane.

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Next I moved onto to preparing the base sheet. During the build, I came up with kind of a crazy idea - I wanted both a nice heavy pedestal base, for when the table is sitting in it's permanent home in my card room - AND a lighter folding leg table for those occasions where we wanted to play outside on the deck with cigars. The general idea is that I would start off building the table via the typical "2 sheet" construction, except forgo attaching the leftover rail cutout piece to the bottom of the table, so the table would only be a single 3/4" sheet of plywood, with folding legs and spring loaded handles secured to the bottom. Now you've got a light portable table top. Next, you build the base sheet to connect to the wood pedestals, and build up the edges of the base sheet so the folding legs fit within and are concealed within the base structure. When folded up, the legs take up less than 1 1/4" inches, so the base doesn't have to be too thick. Here's the schematic:

Fully assembled, with the top attached to pedestal base, so the legs are hidden (pedestals not shown):

Exploded view, showing the table top coming off the base, revealing the folding legs):

The pedestal construction will come later - for now I'll just show the folding table build. First I had to lay out where the folding legs and spring loaded handles would fit:


I found these spring loaded handles on ebay, I believe they're mainly used in the entertainment industry for speaker kits and other custom equipment. They worked great because they're essentially flush and heavy duty.



First step in installing these is cutting out the recess for the handles. Because this table will only be one sheet thick, I had to carve out enough wood to get the handle in without puncturing all the way through. The recess needed to be ~3/8" deep. The lip on the handle hides most of the hole, so I just free handed the cut with a router:



And the handle fits right it. Once I stain/finish the bottom, it'll get screwed into place.


Next is applying the edge banding to the base sheet:


It's pretty straight forward - hold the band in place, heat with iron, then use the roller to ensure the banding is secured tightly:



The banding is slightly wider than the 3/4" sheet, so any large overlaps are cut off (out comes the razor blade again):


Then I hit the top/corner with my palm sander to take that edge off and make it look like a nice solid piece of wood:


Afterwards I stained & polyurethaned the base sheet, then screwed in the handles and folding legs. It's finally starting to look like a table.




With both the rail and base pieces finished, it's time to get all the pieces together and install the hardware that will hold everything together. First up is the hardware that will secure the riser to the rest of the rail. You can simply screw this in, from underneath, but I prefer to add a few threaded inserts & bolts to make sure the riser gets installed in exactly the same spot, every time.

Threaded insert with bolt/washer:


The rail will sit directly on the pad/cloth below, so I need to countersink the bolt on the underside of the riser piece. I used a 3/4" spade bit:


Then, after aligning the riser with the rest of the rail, I drilled the hole for the bolt through both:


Then the insert gets screwed into the opposite side (top of the rail):


I use the flanged inserts to get a nice flush finish:


Then the riser gets bolted on:


The process is identical for installing the threaded inserts that hold the rail the base, you just use slightly longer furniture bolts instead.
 
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Irish

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Next up is padding the playing surface. I do half the table at a time; so I lay out and trim the pad, fold half the padding back, and spray down a coat of Insta-bond:


Let that sit for a couple of minutes until it's a little tacky, then roll back the foam:


Same for the other side, EZPZ. I located my bolts to attached the rail to the base under the foam, so I had to cut away some foam accordingly at each bolt hole location:


Next, now that the rail is all assembled, I wanted to confirm that the spacers I used in the rail lip where the right thickness. The rail is put in place and lightly bolted down, then I checked both the inside of the rail:


And made sure that there wouldn't be a gap between the rail and the base around the outside:


Everything is sitting in place as designed. Next up is getting the cloth installed. I use the "light haze" method. Spray a very light layer of adhesive on the entire padded area - I use the 3M No. 77 for this, as it's not as strong as the Insta-bond:



Then, use one of the manufactured edges to align the cloth straight on one side:


Once's it's straight, roll the rest of the cloth out, using your hands to smooth and kind of pull the cloth taunt at the same time. Work any any lumps or "bubbles" so the cloth is flat and doesn't ripple:


Then, I tacked the cloth down at a few spots with a stapler to hold in place:


Once the cloth is in place and tacked down, proceed to staple it down all the around the cloth, alternating locations (instead of working your way around in a clock-like fashion) to ensure it's secured evenly. Last is cutting out the holes for the connector bolts. If you poke a bolt up through the bottom, you'll be able to see where the hole is coming up under the cloth:


Shoot in a few staples around the hole, forming a square or circle around the hole:


Now, carefully and with a very sharp razor, cut the cloth out within your square to expose the hole:


I'd recommend always cutting away from the center of the table, so if you slip or some of the wood underneath chips and gives way, you don't accidentally slash your new cloth.




Something to have in mind while you're laying out your bolt locations is that you don't want to be too close to the inside edge of the rail, otherwise you may see some uneven spots where the staples are. I'm about 3" back from the edge of the 6" rail:


Trim back any extra cloth, and the cloth is installed:



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Irish

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On to padding and upholstering the rail. There are several different ways of doing this - I pretty much followed the method Jason detailed several years back. Here's my setup, the assembled rail (minus the riser piece) laying centered on top of 65lb sheet of high density foam from yat:


I use a sharpie and trace the shape of the inside and outside edges of the rail on the foam. This is so I know where to spray the adhesive to the foam to secure just the top portion (sides will come later).


Then the rail is lifted off but left in the same relative position so it's easy to lower back down in place (note you can see I've added some duct tape over the threaded insert holes - this prevents any adhesive from gumming up the threads):


Next is spraying adhesive to both the foam and the top of the rail between cup holder locations. I use Insta-Bond which is 10x better than 3M No. 77 for this application. You don't need a whole lot, just as long as you spray it from around 10" up. This give the spray a chance to foam up a bit before hitting the HD foam - it almost looks like you're shooting webs from spider-man's web shooters, lol.




I let it sit for a minute or so to until it's tacky, then lower the rail back down within the marked area.


I push the areas between the cup holders down into the foam to get a good bond, then proceed to start cutting out the cup holder holes. You want to have all your tools and supplies set up before hand, because if you take too long to get to this step, you foam will be glued to the tops of the rings.



Once you've got the holes cut, the whole thing is flipped over:


Then, I take the foam at each cup holder hole and stretch it around the ring, so it's sitting almost flush:




Next is flipping it back over to glue and trim the sides. Gluing the foam to the sides is optional, I used to do it all the time, but on more recent builds I've moved away from it. YMMV. Spray more adhesive around the perimeter of the rail, getting both the side of the rail and the adjacent foam (the adhesive works best when both the foam and wood are coated):


Let it tack, then firmly roll the foam up and secure it to the side of the rail:




Now it's time to break out the turkey knife. Cut flush to the rail lip and make sure you're cutting as level as possible.


On the arcs, I try to hold up the excess foam so I'm always cutting with the same orientation. Gluing the sides helps this, but holding the foam upright gets you a nice clean cut. Cut as far as you can with a single stroke - each time you stop, you'll get a slight variation in the final product unless you're perfectly still, which is damn near impossible.


Next, I cut out the middle portion of the foam so the inside of the rail can be padded.


Along the arcs, the foam needs to be sliced radially from the center of the arc so it smoothly transitions around the radius. The inside is then glued up the same way as the outside:


And trimmed up in the same manner:


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Irish

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Padding is done, onto wrapping the rail. I went with padded suede for this table instead of vinyl. Really nice stuff. I didn't take too many pictures of this as I was too busy pulling and sweating like a pig, but I follow the methodology behind the old zerolux guide, except I start with the arcs. Pull and staple at a few points to secure the cloth in place at both ends of the table:


Then, pull and staple between those first points:


Same goes for the straightaways. Here's a shot after the outside was finished:


Onto the inside, same basic concept. Radial cuts along the arc to allow the suede to stretch:


Pull and tack in place:


Then pull and staple away:


Next, the excess is trimmed off:


Here, you can see where the end of the inserts are slightly protruding through the rail. This acts as a guide template and will make getting the riser situated easier:


Almost done, all that's left is the cup holders. The rail is flipped is over:


Find where the rings are and make a star cut radiating out from the center of the cup hole, being careful not to cut too far and expose the ring:



Then the cup is pushed into the opening. I typically take a baby wipe and wipe down the exterior of the cup, it helps the cup slide in. It usually takes a little pressure but fits in snugly.


Repeat 9X:


Time to add the riser. Here's the finished rail, laying upside down:


The the riser piece is lowered in place:



And bolted down at the four threaded insert locations to establish it's correct location:


And then the riser piece was screwed in at various locations around the rest of the rail:



Folding table portion is now done!






I'll follow up later with the second half the of the build - the custom pedestal base:


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TheWhat

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Great job. So happy I didn't try too convince myself this is something I could do!
 

Thomacetti

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Awsome posts buddie, great work...

Glad you were able to help me out with awsome info when I was building mine
 

Irish

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Now for Part II - the pedestals!

These pedestals are dual inverted octagonal pyramids, constructed from 3/4" oak ply, mostly from leftover pieces from other builds. I started by cutting 18 - 7.333" x 23" slats, which gave me a couple of extras in case I messed one or two up.



The pedestals will vary in diameter from about 12" to 18" +/- as they go up. I beveled the top and bottom of each of the slat 6 degrees to account for the change in diameter - this way the pedestals will sit level once assembled:



Next is angling each slat to get the inverted pyramid look. I used a tapered jig with my table saw fence to get the correct angle on one side:


Then doubled the angle and used the jig to get the correct matching angle on the other side:



For the joinery on the pedestals, I'm using a multi-sided router bit (also called a bird's mouth bit):


There's some more info on the method of joining panels to make a column here if anyone's interested: Bird's-mouth bits. What's nice about the joint (aside from the fact that it offer a large glue area) is that it requires cutting just one side of the panel, so it's a lot less cutting work - you do trade off with lots of chips & dust though. I was a little worried that the cut wouldn't be smooth and I'd get some tear out of the plys due to the size of the bit/cut, but it came out really clean. Some pics:




Then I glued up the panels, let them set and then sanded them down.


While they were setting, I cut out the pedestal base pieces, which consisted of three concentric circles stack on one another.


While the pedestal joinery is probably not an issue, I typically like to have some type of mechanical fastener or restraint in a joint supporting this much weight, especially given the geometry of the pedestal design. So I added a groove to the cap piece that the top of the pedestal will sit in. It's only about 3/16" deep, but I think it should provide enough lateral restraint to help with any slat separation forces. I also cut a hole in each side to allow access to the center of the pedestal for connecting the cross piece:



Dry fit with the pedestals in place (upside down):


Here's a shot of the pedestal footings. I routered a small channel around the the edge of the bottom two bases - which will get some gold paint to add a little detail to the base.


Dry fit together with the cross pieces in place:




Stained, detailed and assembled the pedestals:



I secured the footings to the peds with screws from underneath - one into each of the eight sides. Nice and solid:


Base pedestals all stained & assembled. I was toying between using silver vs gold to match the cup holders, but went with gold because I wanted it to blend/compliment the stain and not really stand out.


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Irish

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Next up is building the sub-base - this will sit on top of the pedestals and house the folding table legs. Construction for this is similar to building a dining topper for a table, just inverted.

Gluing on the straight-away wall pieces for the base sheet:


And the curves (I had some leftover wiggle board that I used for the arcs, but you can also kerf cut these pieces like I did for the riser pieces)



Then the whole exposed wall gets veneered. I'm not all that great at veneering, but here's my setup for veneering the arcs - I screwed in some ratchet tie downs into the straight portions of the skirting on each side of the table and used the bands to keep pressure on the veneer. I pieced together some scraps of the wiggle board as well and used that to get a fairly even pressure distribution around the arcs. It didn't work perfect, I still had some "hollow" spots at the top/bottom edge of the skirting, but it worked a whole lot better/quicker than my last attempt (just lots of clamps), virtually no voids or bubbles in the veneer. Here are some pics:

Veneer being secured in place on the arcs with the new setup:


You can see the ratchet tie downs screwed into the straight sides here:


A couple of extra clamps at the veneer edges to help keep pressure on the veneer:


Veneering the straight portion:


Veneer in place before sanding/fixing/finishing:


Sub-base attached to pedestals:



Then the folding table build from part I of the build simply sits on top of the pedestal assembly. I don't have a great picture of it, but I added a few additional plywood supports around the inside perimeter of the sub-base, and drilled in dowels to these pieces:


These dowels fit into holes in the bottom of the main table, so it drops right into place. Then the top secures from underneath with a handful of furniture connector bolts.

Done!


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Irish

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And now for Part III - the add ons!

Shuffle Tech Install & New Custom Cloth
A couple of years after the build, I picked a brand new Shuffle Tech with flush mount kit on craiglist for a killer price. After trying it out on the side a few games, our group confirmed we liked it enough to mount it in the table. The only drawback to this addition was that it conflicted with the hidden folding legs, so those had to come off (they can be installed after the table top is removed).

After removing the rail and cloth I cut a hole in the main table sheet & padding where the flush bracket will sit.


Because of the depth of the unit, I also had to cut a hole in the table base to feed the unit through. This opening had to be wider that the original to get the whole Shuffle Tech in place and also have room for the fastening system. I got it to fit but it took forever to get everything lined up.


Once the hole was cut, I installed the new custom cloth, then proceeded with installing the flush mount bracket. I used some c-clamps to indent the foam a bit and sink the bracket flush to the table. I didn't want cards pinging off the bracket when we're passing the deal and folks are dealing from the ends of the table.


Bracket installed:



And the final product (with new custom cloth), cards glide right over the unit. I'm very happy with how it turned out, and we still use it all the time:



USB Charging Ports
The next upgrade was adding USB charging ports at each seat location. I used the sub-base area that used to hide the folding legs to house all the wires and components.

Pic with the table top off, exposing that little storage area where the folding legs used to be stored:


Multi-USB chargers and extension wires installed. Stapled the wires about 6"-10" from the charger so they don't get yanked out of the charger when someone grabs a USB port. I ran the power chord down the side of one of the pedestals and I velcro those to the Shuffle Tech power chord so they're all together:



I drilled holes through the bottom of the storage area at each seat location and threaded the USB extension chord through the hole. There's about 6"-12" of slack in the wire and the USB extension port hangs out of the hole in the bottom of the table, so when someone wants to charge their phone, they reach under the table, grab the port, pull out some of the slack and connect to the USB port. Once done, the slack is short enough where it's easy to just stuff the USB port back into the hole. Nice and clean and out of the way.



Reupholster Rail & Replace Cloth
As you can see from the pictures above, my poker room was in my unfinished basement for a long time, and I wasn't terribly diligent in keeping the table covered when not in play, so the cloth and rail got a little dirtier than they probably should have over the years. When I finally got around to finishing my basement last year, I decided it was also time to give my main table a face lift. So I reupholstered the rail with Texuede and replaced the cloth with a new Chanman custom cloth. Details of that are posted here.


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Brandon

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Great tutorial....so many diffeeent ways to build tables and get a guide is still necessary....awesome table
 

msuroo

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Love this table. I followed along with the build back in the Keen days - the pedestals blew my mind back then and they aren’t any less impressive today lol.
 

Irish

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Raphmivey

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I'm in the process of building a table. Consulted this thread a lot thx! Putting the suede on the rail was much harder than I thought. Anyways the table height should me 30" right, but with a raised rail, should that height be measured from floor to top of rail or floor to playing surface or maybe even somewhere in between? thx!
 

Irish

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I'm in the process of building a table. Consulted this thread a lot thx! Putting the suede on the rail was much harder than I thought. Anyways the table height should me 30" right, but with a raised rail, should that height be measured from floor to top of rail or floor to playing surface or maybe even somewhere in between? thx!

Height is from floor to top of rail. 30" is about as high as I would go; "Comfortable" honestly depends more on the type of chairs you have. If you sturdy banquet chairs or higher padded steel folding chairs, you'll likely be fine with 30". If you have those plastic folding chairs that sink 2" when a big fat guy like me sits down (or any chair that sits a little lower), you're probably better off at 28"-29".
 
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