Seeking advise from experienced table builders

stonker

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I'd like to convert this conference table into a poker table. The top is 34.5" wide x 81.5 long.
The width is a little smaller than I would like but it may actually work better with my limited space and I have short arms with a big belly.
I have a very low budget that I'm working with.
1) Padded rail - With the already narrow table I'm afraid to consume too much playing surface with rail. What size rail would you recommend and what would be the minimum overlap?
2) Felt - I'd love to get a custom printed felt but it's not in the budget. Should I look at speed cloth or is there a better option in the speed cloth price range?
3) Mounting the cloth - I'm planning on using some foam that I have laying around for under the felt but not sure if I'm going to like it. Is there a different method of attaching the felt other than 1000 staples? I was wondering if anyone has used spline material like screen doors or similar.
 

Coyote

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First of all you need an inspired and trusted carpenter or ultra-crafty friend, if you' re not one.
Adequate foam + SSC would be fine, but don't omit to ask @T_Chan for a quote on a custom cloth with a betting line - it's worth the money.
The rail is an excellent opportunity to extend a little bit the table's dimensions. It would be a ring attached on the table (probably half-positioned on the table), but extending probably at least 2 inches to the outside, to accommodate 10 players and have a decent padded rail. It takes an inspired craftsman, thinking out of the box. I would recommend you my carpenter, if it were not for the 5,000 miles between us:)
 

WedgeRock

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I don't think the rail would be too tough, but it will eat 3" of space around the perimeter (so 6" narrower, side-to-side). As for the felt, rack it in with 100 staples.

You're gonna need foam for the playing surface and thicker foam for the rails. Unless you live in Cleveland, then Bounce dryer sheets are fine.
 

allforcharity

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(I am not an experienced table builder)

34.5" is not very wide. If you are limited to this measure for the outside dimensions of your table, then I would not use a rail wider than 4" because you will lose double your rail width from the inside playing surface. If you have a little room to expand outward, even a couple inches, then you can go for a more luxuriant 5" or even 6" rail.

Or, leave the table as is, and have a customized topper that you can just put on top whenever you want. You'd be able to gain a little bit of extra width, too.
 

WedgeRock

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It would also be easy enough to build a full size table top to drop right on top of this. Check the base to make sure it's able to handle the stress of the additional size.
 

Taghkanic

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1) Padded rail - With the already narrow table I'm afraid to consume too much playing surface with rail. What size rail would you recommend and what would be the minimum overlap?
I would suggest doing without a rail. At those dimensions, you’re going to be packed in pretty close, even if it’s just 8 players. The cards are not going to fly off the table—chips and arms will prevent that 99% of the time. And the padding isn’t worth the lost table space, IMHO.

Instead, I’d go with a homemade table-topper. These can be put together for well under $100. I will try to find some of my previous posts on the topic and cut-and-paste here.
 

Taghkanic

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Here’s one of my posts on the topic... If you search on “Joann” and my username you’ll find others...

I have been using a Solarium outdoor fabric on my table toppers. It has the virtue of being waterproof and easily cleanable, and it has a nice combination of sheen and texture, which seems to allow cards to move well while also making it slightly easier to lift chips/cards with fingertips. It’s listed here at about $18/yard, but I have been able to buy it cheaper at places like Joann Fabric by waiting for sales/coupons to crop up:

https://www.fabric.com/buy/0430488/richloom-solarium-outdoor-rave-black

They call this “black,” but it is a very deep blue-black—sort of a night sky look, with a rich color to it. Here are other colors in the same grade:

https://www.fabric.com/collection/richloom-style-outdoor-rave

I attach this with spray adhesive to closed cell 1/4" foam, which I buy from a local supplier for less than $25 for a 3-yard sheet. On my dining room table, my topper is removable; I just let the cloth hang down around the edges by about 5-6".

Underneath I spray-attached a piece of faux leather (a cheap Joann’s remnant) because I found the foam tended to stick to my table too much, and I wanted just a hair more padding. Obviously this means no rail, but people don’t seem to miss it—and I can remove the topper between games. I just hang it by some grommets behind a curtain “wall” in the living room.
 

Taghkanic

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The spray adhesive I’ve been using is by 3M, but any heavy-duty kind which you find at Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. should do. To cut the foam to size, just lay it down on your table, find the edges by pressing down, and mark the line with a Sharpie or similar pen. Even better, flip the table over and lay it carefully on the foam to trace it. Remember, you can always make it smaller, but you can’t make it bigger once you cut it...

(I’ve also built a table with a rail, and while that was very satisfying, it can be a shit-ton of work, especially the first time around, with lots of little one-time expenses which add up.)
 

stonker

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Thank you for the replies. I will stop by Joann's to check out the Solarium fabric as well as vinyl for the rail. I was reading some posts on here about suited speed cloth and one of them highly recommended the mini pattern vs the regular size. Is this purely going by looks or is the mini a better product?

I'm going towards making a 5" wide rail, overlapping the table by only 2" per side. This will make the outside dimensions 40.5" x 87.5 and playing surface 30.5" x 77.5".
 

Taghkanic

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My experience with speed cloth is that it plays well, but over time can get a little greasy/slick. (Maybe I play with oily people...)

If I understand correctly, you are going to have the rail overhang 3” past the edge of the table and only have it hit the table 2” in? I’m not an engineer, but that sounds like there could be some stress on the overhang if someone leans hard on it. Might need to shore it up at 6-8 intervals around the table if so, say with an angle bracket of some kind.
 

stonker

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My experience with speed cloth is that it plays well, but over time can get a little greasy/slick. (Maybe I play with oily people...)

If I understand correctly, you are going to have the rail overhang 3” past the edge of the table and only have it hit the table 2” in? I’m not an engineer, but that sounds like there could be some stress on the overhang if someone leans hard on it. Might need to shore it up at 6-8 intervals around the table if so, say with an angle bracket of some kind.
You understood correctly. I plan on bolting the rail to the table using pronged T-nuts in the rail. I'll look into some form of bracket if it seams weak after i bolt it down.
 

BGinGA

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If cramped for space (sounds like you are), go with a gravity 4" rail - 2" inboard, 2" outboard. No screwing required.

Mini-ssc is the best material out there short of gaming suede. Looks great, plays great, lasts forever.
 

WedgeRock

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Also check Joanne's for Ultrasoft Velveteen. It plays about the same as SSC (maybe not quite as slick)... But it is solid... IMHO, I've always hated the cheesy look of SSC. My brain equates it to dice chips and battery operated card shufflers.
 

BGinGA

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lol, that's okay. Velveteen has always reminded me of cheap whorehouse motel rooms. :) And it sucks unless pitching with the grain.
 

BGinGA

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If looking for fabric at JoAnn's, the best stuff I've found is polyester blends (several solids aren't too bad, and some of them actually work better upside down). Nylon is another good choice, resilient and very fast, and some bright colors are available in the sports section.
 

BGinGA

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I'd put USV on my tables before SSC and it's not even close. But to each his own.
Yeah, it's a pretty polarizing subject.... most people that like one, hate the other. And plenty in each camp.
 

WedgeRock

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It's not that I won't play on SSC... It plays great. But given the cheesy look and having to pay shipping because Joann's doesn't carry reams of SSC, gimme USV any day of the week.
 

Taghkanic

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I again suggest thinking outside the box and looking at a wide range of fabrics, including remnants and the outdoor sections of whatever store(s) are near you, beyond the poker industry usual suspects... I have been very pleased with the Solarium for its durability, ease of cleaning, and also the way the cards move. We had a major spill at a recent game and it was no problem at all.
 

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I stopped by Joann's tonight but did not have much time to look around before they kicked me out. The branch I went to had never heard of Ultrasoft Velveteen and I wasn't crazy about their Solarium outdoor fabric selection. Most of the Solarium product had busy designs and a couple of the solid colors that they did have felt very rough to the touch. It felt like I would rub my fingers raw after a couple hours of play on it. I did like the feel of the Whisper Vinyl for the rail.
 

BGinGA

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Not for nuttin', but I have played on homemade tables that used rail vinyl fabric on the table surface. Certainly not my preference, but it was more playable than a lot of other 'alternate' surfaces.
 

Taghkanic

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In our game we’ve played hundreds of quality hours on two Solarium-covered tables—but there are many, many types of fabric made by that company. I can only recommend the type linked above. Cards move well, are easy to pick up, and the surface is very durable. Here’s the link again:

https://www.fabric.com/collection/richloom-style-outdoor-rave

It has a slight weave to it, but a very tight one, which actually contributes to the playability (as it gives it something of a felt-like texture, and puts a tiny amounts of air/give under the cards).

I couldn’t be happier with it, and prefer it to the speedcloth and velveteen tables I’ve played on. (Can’t stand most casino surfaces.)
 

Taghkanic

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Here are some closeup pics showing the texture of the Solarium Rave fabric. The weave is very flat and tight, and the surface has a nice balance of tactile and slick. It just works (for me, anyway).

IMG_4823.jpg
IMG_4824.jpg
IMG_1274.jpg
IMG_1273.jpg
IMG_0033.jpg
 

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In our game we’ve played hundreds of quality hours on two Solarium-covered tables—but there are many, many types of fabric made by that company. I can only recommend the type linked above. Cards move well, are easy to pick up, and the surface is very durable. Here’s the link again:

https://www.fabric.com/collection/richloom-style-outdoor-rave

It has a slight weave to it, but a very tight one, which actually contributes to the playability (as it gives it something of a felt-like texture, and puts a tiny amounts of air/give under the cards).

I couldn’t be happier with it, and prefer it to the speedcloth and velveteen tables I’ve played on. (Can’t stand most casino surfaces.)
Taghkanic, I purchased some outdoor fabric to try out. The fabric was folded in half on the roll and has a pretty crisp crease down the middle. Was yours like that and if so how did you deal with it?
 

Taghkanic

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I don’t remember having that issue, but you might try wiping it lightly with a damp cloth, then laying a bedsheet over it before ironing it *on the very lowest setting*. Careful not to melt it!

Better maybe to try a cheap clothes steamer (about $10 at Wal-Mart)... Either way, ease into it to make sure the poly isn’t melting.

Before trying that, maybe just lay the cloth out on a table, smooth it as much as possible then put books down to flatten the crease. If you do it upside down (i.e. the point of the crease toward the table, that might work bear... Leave it a few hours or even overnight.

Or, throw it in a (short) cold wash cycle, then hang it on a clothesline and let gravity do the remaining work.

It’ll come out, may just take some time.

Which fabric did you get? I was looking at other options just recently.
 

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Taghkanic, I purchased some outdoor fabric to try out. The fabric was folded in half on the roll and has a pretty crisp crease down the middle. Was yours like that and if so how did you deal with it?
You might try spritzing with water and ironing. Be careful not to use too much heat. Test in an area that won’t be used first to make sure the heat won’t damage your cloth.
 

Taghkanic

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I just googled this, and with the brand I used it said you can iron it, but recommends ironing only on the *back* side, ideally with an iron which has a setting for Synthetic.
 
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