Look around the house, choose a room, stand back and imagine where a game table might fit. To get a mental picture of the project, ask these clarifying questions: How much space is available? Will the table blend in or stand out? Is the table to be stationary or mobile? How big can the table be? How high off the floor should it be designed? Once it's built, how should it be trimmed and finished? Answering these questions may help visualize the table and where it will be placed before plans are drawn up. It helps to begin with the end in mind.
Determine the approximate dimensions of the table based on the space available. With tape measure in hand, determine how wide and tall the table should be. Jot these dimensions down and sketch a rough drawing. The sketch will help visualize the table to be built along with creating a materials and supplies list. The finished size of the Blog Cabin 2011 game table was 36" by 36" and 24" tall.
Drive around the neighborhood in search of older homes being remodeled. Don't hesitate to introduce yourself to the building contractor and explain your project material needs. With any luck, old 2x4 true-cut wall studs or 4x4 corner posts may be in the dumpster or burn pile for the taking.
During construction of the Blog Cabin 2011 game table, true-cut 2x4s were ripped in half width-wise on the table saw to 1" x 4" thickness. Both sides were useable. Two extra pieces were ripped for the edge trim.
Based on your own tabletop dimensions, cut the ripped lumber into the desired lengths. Lay the old lumber pieces face-down on the work table, long edges against each other. Secure them snugly using a 3/4" plywood backer brace. Two backer braces, each ripped six inches wide, will hold the tabletop together with two screws to secure them from the back.
Take care in removing embedded nails or plan to replace the table saw blade after ripping through the nails. Also, wear safety glasses whenever power tools such as saws, drills and sanders are used.
Rip extra pieces of lumber in half to create 2" by 1" edge trim. Choose miter cut or butt jointed corners (as shown in the Blog Cabin 2011). Measure, cut, glue and attach the edge trim (Images 1 and 2) with a finish nailer (16 ga. 2-1/2" galvanized). Note: The rustic look of edge trim should be visible on the top of the table and on the sides (Image 3).
Duplicate the procedures in Steps 4 and 5 to build a second table surface, identical to the one just completed. Edge trim the second table surface just as you edged the first.
Choose one of the table surfaces on which to paint the checkerboard pattern. Using painter's tape and a tape measure, square the board in the center of the table (Image 1). The size of the individual checkerboard squares depends on the size of the table. Use graph paper to sketch out the checkerboard square design.
Cover the outside table surface of the checkerboard with paper. Continue to outline the checkerboard design with tape on the top of the old table surface (Image 2). When the taped squares for the board are complete, spray-paint or brush paint the uncovered squares (Image 3). Allow the surface to dry. Remove the tape to expose the checkerboard pattern on the rough table surface.
Turn the lower surface upside down and attach four wooden blocks (2" x 4" x 4") near the four corners. These blocks can be regular 2" x 4" scrap wood or leftover true-cut 2" x 4" reclaimed wood. Screw them to the underside of the lower surface.
Using old 4" x 4" posts, cut four legs to length depending on the desired surface height of the tabletop. The legs must be of equal length and cut clean for a plumb and square fit.
Turn the checkerboard surface face-down and lay it on the work table. Place the four post legs in each of the four corners. Using the finish nailer, secure the legs through the side edge trim. Also, toenail the legs to the underside of the checkerboard, judging carefully how deep the finish nail will penetrate without going all the way through to the checkerboard surface. Take the bottom table surface and turn it face-down. Place it upside down on the four legs. The bottom table surface should be adjusted so the legs are aligned with the corners inside the edge trim. With the legs in place, finish nail through the bottom of the table to temporarily hold it in place. Insert four wood screws per leg through the bottom to permanently secure the legs in place.
Carefully turn the table right side up.
The Blog Cabin 2011 game table was finished with a piece of bevel-edged tempered glass that was cut to fit the top surface. This protective glass allows wet drinks or feet to be rested on the table without staining or marring the tabletop.
To round out the project, locate an old set of wooden checkers or chess set. They may be found at antiques shops or on craigslist. No luck finding old checkers? Make your own. Pick up some 1" or 1-1/2" pine or oak dowels and cut (slice) the checker pieces to a chosen thickness. A miter saw will help with this finishing option. Spray-paint them black and red.