Sunday, November 7, 2010

Building a gaming table at home, and on the cheap!

If you're like me, the kitchen table does NOT work for gaming. (Mine is too small, and usually is covered with something sticky, courtesy of my two sons.) Well, I am here today to tell you that building your own gaming table is possible, and very affordable.

I not only play Warhammer and 40K, but I am also an avid fan of Dungeons and Dragons, Rogue Trader, and other RPGs. So, versatility of a table is a must. Let me show you what I did.

To conserve space, I not only made it a table, but I built storage into the bottom of it, a slide out drawer to add surface area, and put the table on casters so I can easily move the table around.

 You can see the braces on the bottom of the table, and since I took these pictures, I have added a few boards across the bottom so I can store all of my terrain pieces safely.

Ok, so lets talk about the cost of all of this. The surface of the table was the most expensive part, and by surface I mean the grass gaming mat I purchased for $30. I decided to splurge on this, since I constructed the rest of the table for around the same amount. There are four other methods I have seen for creating a surface, but since I use this table for RPG's, tabletop gaming, miniature gaming, and a play
 area for my kids, I wanted the grass to be removable, so that is why I went with the mat. When the guys come over for D&D, I just roll it up, and roll out the dry erase mat.
The other methods I've seen for creating a surface:
1. Flock the whole thing. Seems really expensive and labor intensive to me. The glue wouldn't always hold the flock in place, and could see patches getting worn in, and a general mess over time.
2. Spray paint. Good old inexpensive green spray paint. Durable, easy, but only will look as good as the wood you have underneath it.
3. Put sand on the table, spray paint it, then seal it.
Drawer open
 Solves the wood look issue, but messy and labor intensive.
4. Textured paint. Probably the best of the these options. It is more expensive, but it is more likely to stay in place and be durable. The big drawback in my opinion, is that it creates a rough surface, and can scrape up your miniatures. As for the cost of the paint, it's can be offset by going to Michaels, Joanne's, or Hobby Lobby and using a 40% off coupon. Those places are great for gaming supplies.
Drawer closed

Ok, back to the building cost of my table.

The surface area of the table was made from a 8' x 6' piece of OSB, cut down to 6' x 4'. ($15) OSB is great because it is heavy duty and CHEAP. Plywood ranges around $45, and solid wood, forget it. It's being covered anyway. Next, the frame of the table was constructed from 3 1" x 4" x 8' s and 4 1" x 4" x 6' s. ($1.89 and $1.59 each, respectively) I cut the 8' boards in half to go along the 4' side of the table surface.

The legs are made from 2 2" x 6" x 6' construction studs. ($3.89 each). They don't look pretty, but they are completely solid. You can cut these to your height preference, mine are at 28", same as a regular table, and are augmented by the casters I added on the bottom of the legs. (Casters were $3.98 for all 4).

For the drawer, I used the scrap 2' from the OSB board and just bought a drawer slider set with a high weight rating. ($4.99)

For the actual construction, anyone can do it. Don't be intimidated, can you draw a straight line? Use a measuring tape? Those are the hardest parts. Cutting the wood is simple, just use a circular saw and DO NOT try to cut it by hand. Invest in the tool, it's only $30 if you don't already have one, or you could just borrow one too. This whole project only took about 2 hours for me.

I started by cutting all the lumber to length. Then I assembled the 4' ends of the table. Square up the legs (ie: make sure the distance at the top is the same as the bottom. Place one of the 4' boards across the top. I have mine extend 3/4" over the top to hold the OSB surface in place and appear flush. Screw into place. Screw a second board about 6" from the bottom for a support. Repeat whole process for other side. Once your legs are built, you just line up the 6' boards and attach them. Put your last 4' boards in the center for braces and you have your frame. Flip it upside down and attach the casters. Turn it back over and set your tabletop in place. Mount the drawer slides, install the drawer and you are done! It really is that simple!

Let's recap the cost:

OSB 6' x 8'         14.99
3 8' 1"x4"              5.69
4 6' 1"x4"              6.36
2 6' 2"x6"              7.78
Casters                 3.98
Drawer slide         4.99
TOTAL              43.79
Add your preferred finish to the table top, and GAME ON!


  1. Now we just need to get a game in on this baby besides Rogue Trader

  2. Anytime you want, my necrons can smack around your eldear.

    Or, you can borrow a fantasy army to learn. :)