I've been thinking about hosting a poker tournament at my house one of these coming weekends. What better to host a tournament with than a poker table? I looked around on the web and found some good resources like www.HomePokerTourney.com. It didn't seem too difficult and I was on the lookout for a good project so I decided to go ahead.
I had some MDF in my garage leftover from the theater project. Sheets of MDF don't fit in the back of my Mustang. It's a pain to rent the Home Depot truck or borrow a friend's SUV, so my goal for this project was to build the table out of the scraps I had in the garage. The table was based on the largest piece I had: 42"x49". I began by cutting an elongated octagon shape. I sort of had a rough idea in my head about how this would all work, but I didn't spend a lot of time planning it all out on paper. In retrospect I probably should have.
This is where my lack of planning bit me. (Yes it was only the second step into the project.) All the plans I saw online said you needed to equal sheets of wood. The first was for the table and then the second was for the railing. It seemed like a waste of wood to just cut out the railing and scrap the rest. I was going to be smart and make the railing out of mutliple smaller pieces of wood. Well duh, that doesn't work very well because you have to build the railing separate from the table so you can pad and upholster it. I managed to survive by putting some screws through the joints. I also used spray adhesive to stick the padding on. This all held it together enough that I could upholster it... but just barely. I used 1" closed cell foam for this. One of those electric kitchen knives is supposed to work best but a serrated knife got the job done for me.
Next I laid my sheet of black cotton-backed marine vinyl on the floor. The rail was laid padded side down on top of the vinyl. I proceeded to cut and staple the outside perimeter and then did the same. My only plan here was to keep it pulled tight and use tons of staples. I even bought an electric "heavy duty" stapler. That turned out to be a piece of junk and was quickly returned. I exchanged it for a contractor grade hand stapler which worked much better. Aside from giving me a blister I have no complaints. Just make sure you get a lot of staples. I think I went through 400-500 of them over the course of this project.
Once the rail was finished, I used a similar process to upholster the main table with the piece of green suede. Then I screwed from the bottom of the table up into the rail to secure it. It's looking pretty good.
Now my lack of planning gets me again. The articles I read online said you can buy folding table legs at Home Depot or Lowe's. I asked at both places and neither store carried just the legs. I couldn't even buy a table and take the legs off because new folding tables are all molded plastic and the leg contraption is pretty complex. I could have gone with real wooden legs but I really want to be able to fold this up. So what to do? I bought a 4 foot folding table. I screwed a couple guide boards onto the bottom of the table and set the poker table on top of the folding table. It doesn't look as nice as I had originally hoped but I'm sure the poker will still be fun. I suppose this has the added advantage of giving me a folding table in case I ever need one.
And just in case you're curious, here's a rough estimate of the project. I'm too lazy to dig out the actual receipts to give you exact numbers.
Stapler and staples: $25
Black and Decker power sander: $40 (for sanding the edges to keep the cloth from tearing)
Folding table: $35
Padding, vinyl, and suede: $55
3/4" MDF: FREEBIE
The whole project only took me three days to complete. I probably could have done it all in one Saturday though. There's not much too it. If I ever build another one, I'll do a few things differently. First of all, I'll buy enough wood to make a legitimate railing. Secondly, I think it would be cool to have a chip rail. Third I would raise up the railing and put strip lighting underneath. And finally, I'd figure out a different way to handle the table legs.