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How I Built My Gaming Table

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My Dream

I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons for thirty-five years (I was VERY young when I started), and my four sons all love to play. They each have groups of friends, plus they have cousins who play. You get the picture. Since the first time I saw a gaming table, I’ve wanted one.

There are companies that make gaming tables that are amazing, but they are incredibly expensive. After a few hours on the internet, I zeroed in on what I wanted. I’m sort of handy and decided to try making it myself.

Original Idea

gaming table

This one pic seeded the image of what I wanted in my mind.

It had cup holders, a dice/pencil tray, and it had a TV in the center. I looked at tons of tables that used a projector aimed down on a table, but I didn’t like any of them. The embedded TV was the way to go. Plus, I dreamed up a few extras.

Drawing

My brother-in-law Chris (who is considerably more handy than I am) helped meSketch of the table sketch it out and do some of the tougher cuts. He has better tools than I do as well.

This design, like all well-laid plans, got changed along the way. But this is the basic outline of what we make.

The foot shelf was added to store my cases full of miniatures, and we added power outlets and USB charging ports to the ends of the table.

The materials cost about $175 total. This was pre-COVID so lumber was only outrageous, not yet astronomically expensive.

Early phases

Before starting this project, I read a ton of posts. Successes and horror stories alike. One guy built a huge table but ended up hating it because everyone had to stand up to roll dice or see anything.

Another put down a surface that was quickly destroyed by metal dice. I have banned using those without a dice tray, but it was good advice.

After we had the materials, we marked and cut the pieces for the top. My brother-in-law had a very nice miter saw that worked well for the 45-degree angles. I think it was a Metobo HTP or similar. I’ve since gotten a Cobalt that I love.

We built the top first because it was functionally the most important piece. It would also prove the toughest to work around. Finding the right TV was key. I wanted the stupidest TV I could find. I didn’t want it to connect to the internet or try to decide what web page we should be loading. The Element ELEFW328R 32in was perfect, but is no longer available. The INSIGNIA 32-inch Class F20 Series would be a good choice. The TV hole was basically centered. It has a very small bezel, the legs come off easily, and it isn’t too thick. Cradling the TV would prove to be a pain.

Assembly

This sucker is massive, as you can see from the schematic. From the beginning, we knew it would need to disassemble it every time we wanted to move it. We switched from lag bolts to regular bolts and washers.

Circumstances required us to do some staining after it was in place, so we put down some thick plastic first. I had a weird idea about the feet that never came to fruition, so those needed staining as well.

PRO TIP: I got marine cup holders because they are bigger. These are the ones I got CUP HOLDERS.

Staining

We picked a nice Dark Walnut poly stain. I used two coats of stain. Because I’m a noob, I made a big mess. I used a lot of paint thinner so I suggest having it on hand. You’ll need it to clean your brushes.

I hadn’t stained ‘furniture’ before, so I watched some YouTube videos and talked to some competent people. Bubbles are your enemy. Be patient when stirring your poly and when applying. I only have a few bubbles. Nothing I can’t live with.

The dark color looks so good. It required a little bit of sanding and a bit of touchup.

We originally put down a bunch of sheets of 1/4″ foam sheets for the surface. It looked okay, but ultimately I wasn’t pleased. We pulled it up and put down a nice faux leather surface that I really like. It doesn’t have a seam.

Adding TV

Getting the TV mounted was such a pain. For some reason, I thought I would be laying a completely flat TV down and didn’t account for the brains of the TV. It took a lot of shimming and re-shimming to get it flush.

The TV cover is… special. We rigged up a punch rod on one end of the gaming table. When you push in the handle on the rod, the TV cover raises up and you simply remove it. I’m not in love with it, but it works.

We were all set to run electrical wire to outlets and tie it all together, but we found some extension cords that terminated into little boxes with two plugs and two USBs. It was much simpler just to plug these together around the table. They are similar to THIS.

Finished Product

I don’t want the post to have so many images it won’t load, but here are a few of the finished product. I hope you have enjoyed this article about how I built my gaming table. E-mail me with questions and I’ll try to help.

jack@jackandalicia.com

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