How to Build a Custom Poker Table
This oak poker table has a felt-covered center and built-in cup holders.
Lay a store-bought tabletop for playing cards onto a full sheet of 3/4" plywood. Trace around the perimeter of the top to determine the final dimensions of the game tabletop that you’ll build.
To compensate for the trim that will be attached around the edges later on, mark 1-1/2 inches inside the perimeter that you’ve already drawn. Now with a straight-line saw, cut along the inside marks you’ve made. Cut the plywood in half so there are two identical parts.
Cut 1-1/2" maple trim down to length to cover each outside edge of the tabletop. Miter each edge that touches another trim piece to 22.5 degrees. Dry fit the ends around the table to ensure the corners match up nice and neat.
Stack the first trim piece on top of the edge it will connect to so they are flush. Clamp them together with a dowel jig, making sure it’s on tightly, and drill three to four matching pilot holes through the jig with a 3/8" drill bit and a collar set to 1 inch. Remove the clamps, make sure everything lines up, then repeat the process for the rest of the trim pieces.
Drill pilot holes at an angle along adjacent edges of the trim so that the short sides will end up fitting together for added security. Lightly brush wood glue onto the ends of 3/8" x 2" dowels and place them inside the pilot holes of the trim pieces. Brush glue onto the rest of the trim piece edge. You may also brush a light layer of glue onto the matching tabletop edge.
Place the dowels and trim into the corresponding tabletop holes and into the adjacent trim piece, but insert the trim only halfway.
Once each of the trim pieces is inserted halfway, grab a second set of hands and carefully hammer the pieces into place a little bit at a time so that they link together tightly with one another and with the tabletop.
Cut solid 1" maple down to the following dimensions for the base and legs. You can taper the edges for a better look:
For the large base, Part A will be the top horizontal piece, Part B will be the vertical connecting piece and Part C will be the bottom base. Mark the center points of the two horizontal pieces and line them up with the center points on the ends of the vertical piece so they connect in the shape of an "I." Drill three pilot holes along the edges, using a dowel jig and the same stacking method used previously. Place dowels and wood glue into each of the holes so the pieces connect, hammering them into place for a tight fit. Clamp them together while the glue sets.
For the fixed leg, Part D will be the top horizontal piece, Part B will be the vertical connecting piece and Part E will be the bottom base. Follow the same steps with the pilot holes and dowels, but this time Part B will rest flush against the edges of the other two pieces.
For the swinging leg, Part F will be the top horizontal piece, Part B will be the vertical connecting piece and Part E will be the bottom base. Follow the same steps used for the fixed leg.
Mark the center point of the long side of the vertical piece and line it up to the center point of the long side of the fixed leg. Make sure the top and bottom are flush and then clamp them together. Drill pilot holes through the pieces with a countersink bit about every six inches and attach the fixed leg to the base with 2" wood screws.
The components for the game table are built, so now stain the two tabletop pieces, the base and the two legs.
Cut a piano hinge down to size with a reciprocating saw so that it’s the diameter of the tabletop, minus two inches on either side. File down the sharp end. A great tip for cutting the hinge is to lay it on top of a block of wood and place scrap wood and a clamp on top to hold it in place while you cut. The scrap wood will act as a fence for the saw.
Line up the piano hinge so that the spine is in between the two tabletop halves on the underside and clamp it into place. Drill pilot holes as you go and screw the hinge into place.
The swinging leg will attach to the base with a piano hinge so that it can swing back and the game table can be stowed away. Cut the hinge down to size so that it’s the height of the leg minus two inches on top.
Attach half of the piano hinge lengthwise to the base so that the spine lies in the center. Now attach the other half of the hinge to the swinging leg so that it mirrors the fixed leg on the opposite side when attached.
Center the entire base onto the underside of the tabletop so that the fixed leg and main base section are on one side of the tabletop hinge and the swinging leg is on the other side. Drill pilot holes toward the end of the base and the fixed leg and attach them with 2" screws. The swinging leg will not be attached with screws so that it can retract backwards.
Place the felt pre-made game tabletop on top and your custom-made game table is ready for game night! When it’s not in use, just remove the game top, fold back the top and the leg and tuck it away.
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