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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For those looking to install cup holders in your rails, here’s a quick description of how I do mine. One minor problem you sometimes get is if the cup holder is sitting directly on the vinyl/foam, the area around the cup holder will indent and the cup will sink into the rail a little. My solution to this was to install rings at each cup holder location, so that the cup is sitting on a solid piece of wood instead of the foam, and thus you don’t get that indentation around the cup.

Lay out and cut your cup holders holes out of the rail. Using some of the left over ¾” plywood scraps (the corner cut-off scraps work good), I cut wood rings with an inner diameter matching the cup holder holes in the rail, and an outer diameter about 1.25”1/2" wider (so the ring is about 5/8”1/4" thick). You can either cut the rings with a router and circle jig or a combination of hole saws – I typically use a router for everything. Now glue the rings down to the top of the wood rail:







Edit: since originally making this thread, I've refined the process so the rings are only 1/4" thick now, which fully supports the cup but doesn't extent out beyond the rim of the cup holder:

I believe the ring on right is the one I went with:




Then glue your 1" HD foam to the top of the rail & cut out the cup holder holes in the foam from underneath:



The foam will be sitting on top of the rings, so you have to stretch the foam around the ring so it's nice and snug. This way you won’t have any gaps in the foam around the ring.

(Note this obviously wasn't the actual rail, it was a mock-up I did with some old Jo-Ann’s foam to check what size rings would be good, but it's the same concept)


This way the cup holders are sitting on something solid (the ring), versus sitting on the foam. Now you cover your rail with vinyl like you would normally do. Once you’ve finished, carefully cut an X over the cup holder hole in the vinyl and staple the vinyl to the inside of the cup holder hole/ring. Note you don't want to make the X cut too big, as the vinyl may tear. Sometimes you'll need a few extra slits to get the vinyl stapled in without any wrinkles - this can frustrating as it's far from an exact science and is pretty time consuming. Rinse and repeat for each cup holder.

Final results:


 

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Matt,

How'r you cutting that small of a circle with your router? I'm reading this right now as I'm about to call it a day, so I'm not going to head out to my workshop to try this with my router & Lewin compass, but I can't visualize it making circles with such a tight radius.

Did you make a larger hole cut to serve as a template (which you then run your router along the inner edge of)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Matt,

How'r you cutting that small of a circle with your router? I'm reading this right now as I'm about to call it a day, so I'm not going to head out to my workshop to try this with my router & Lewin compass, but I can't visualize it making circles with such a tight radius.

Did you make a larger hole cut to serve as a template (which you then run your router along the inner edge of)?
Yeah, the Lewin compass won't get you that small of a radius, I use a Jasper circle compass:

http://www.woodworkingmatters.com/Reviews/Jasper_400_Jig.htm

I use this for all my cup holder holes & rings. I like this vs. the hole saw because I only need this one jig, which can make holes from 1 inch to 7 1/2 inches in diameter in 1/16 inch increments. So, you can use this for regular, large, jumbos, rings, etc. whereas with a hole saw you'd need a bit for each size. Time-wise it's probably about the same, the hole saw may be a bit quicker if you've got a kick ass drill. I can never keep the hole saw straight so this works better for me. :mrgreen:

James - if want to borrow the Jasper shoot me a PM.
 

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Do you secure the cupholder with anything, or does it just sit in there with the vinyl holding it snug?
 

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I've only tried it with some PVC which was roughly the thickness of the lip on the cupholder. So, even if someone put all their weight right next to the cupholder you wouldn't see a lip from the ring. With a .75" or 1" lip you'd see an obvious edge if a lot of weight is put right next to the cupholder.

For my next attempt I will take some scraps, or even a full sheet of .75" ply to someone with a CNC and have him cut as many as he can out of it. Realisticly, you probably don't want to make them much thinner than .5" and to avoid any visible "lip" from pressure right next to the cupholder I'll use a roundover bit on the outside edge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Can we see this angle without the cupholder in place?
Sorry, I sold this table over the summer and I couldn't find a picture of the upholstered rail without the cup holder in place.

Do you secure the cupholder with anything, or does it just sit in there with the vinyl holding it snug?
Nope, I sized the hole so it fits in snug once the vinyl is place. One of them was really snug - as in the cup holder ain't coming back out. :D

With a .75" or 1" lip you'd see an obvious edge if a lot of weight is put right next to the cupholder.
I went back and checked, the rings were actually only 5/8" thick - 5" outer diameter, 3.75" inner diameter for jumbo cup holders (OP updated). If you pressed down really hard around the cup you could see the edge, but it really wasn't as issue under normal use.
 

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I'm looking into the cupholder ring idea a bit to find out what is best to use on my current project. Do you think the PVC thing is a good alternative or should I pay the money to buy the Jasper circle compass just for this use?

If the PVC works well, it would be a cheaper way for a one time need. With cost in mind, is the Jasper circle compass that much of a better route?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
What size are your cup holders? If they're the standard size, I'm pretty sure one of the PVC sizes will fit perfectly. With jumbos, there's not a PVC size that really fits, you have to cut it in half and kinda jerry-rig it.
 

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I think these are standard size -



But I am going to go ahead and get the circle jig you listed. The amount of time it will save cutting that many circles, and thinking it will do it that much cleaner, makes it worth the cost imo.
 

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do you have a router? if so it is easy peasy to make a jig and use a straight fluted bit with a bush bearing to keep your cuts flush....
 

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Would you reduce it if you were using standared size cup holders? Drop it down to 5 in or so?

I'm working on a round, and going to use your cup holder ring method.

Probably going to do a 54" size. Maybe 56". haven't decided yet. I will be doing a full felt, no racetrack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Would you reduce it if you were using standared size cup holders? Drop it down to 5 in or so?

I'm working on a round, and going to use your cup holder ring method.

Probably going to do a 54" size. Maybe 56". haven't decided yet. I will be doing a full felt, no racetrack.
With standard size cup holders, you could go down to a 5" wide rail but I'd say that would be the smallest I'd go. I personally wouldn't because I really like the wider rails, but that's just a general preference. I make all of my tables with 6" rails now - after playing on them, I've yet to have someone say they preferred the smaller rails.
 
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