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Hey there PMC Community,

I just joined and this place is great. The craftsmanship around here is out of control. I’m getting ready to dive into my first table top and i've got a couple basic questions on table top construction before I begin.

First and foremost, let me explain the setup. I live in a fairly small apartment, so i've got a pretty large bar-height island that seats 6-8 that is my only table. I have stools for that table, so while i could just buy a folding poker table, i'd also need to buy 8+ chairs, store them, and it would be awkward to set it up in my smallish apartment living room.

I think the best solution is to just make a table top that fits onto my existing island for turning it into a good playing surface, but i have a few questions.

I plan to make the top in two pieces so it can fold and fit under a bed. Going to cut it in half, screw in hinges on the top side, but only at the edges so it will be away from the playing surface. My plan was to mount the hinges, then pad and felt the playing surface and run a double line of staples just along each side of the seam so that the padding and felt wouldn't bunch up when the table gets folded. Basically forcing a nice seam for the table to fold at. This will make the padded rail a bit hard, but i think i'm going to use the same strategy as for the table felt and taper the padding as it gets to the seam so that right at the seam it will only be vinyl to fold, and not the foam.

On the bottom, i'm going to spray glue some black felt (probably the very first step) so that the table underneath won't get damaged. Then some 1x1" strips strategically placed on each side will keep the table top snugly fitted to the table.

A few question regarding this plan:

1) Will having a rectangular poker table present any problems i'm not forseeing? Obviously the classic oval table is better for seeing everyone, but are there structural/construction advantages to it?

2) What is the best way to mount the rail to the table? In almost every tutorial, this seemingly important step is totally skipped. Should i just flip the whole thing over and screw in from the bottom using proper length screws that won't come out the top of the rail? I'm just very reluctant to screw anything from underneath bc it worries me when the sharp end is up!

3) Will vinyling around a right angle be very difficult? I'm not an upholstery expert, so i have a bit of a hard time visualizing the process until i'm doing it, but my initial thought is the only tricky part will be making the inside and outside corner edges look clean. Aside from that, there should be no cutting really. Depending on how the corners come out, I might get some pieces of tin or something to nail in at the corners on the outer edge to hide the seam if it’s ugly.

4) I'd love to customize the playing surface a bit. Are there any methods other than screen printing that don't interfere too much? The screenprinting’s not out of the question, but a DIY method would be ideal.

5) Are cupholders in the rail a pain in the ass? This setup makes it impossible to put cupholders in the playing surface or on a racetrack, so the rail is the only option. I'm inclined to just skip it, but i'm sure i'll feel differently once a precariously balanced beer spills on my brand new table!

Sorry for the total onslaught of questions, no pressure for anyone to answer any or all, but for whomever can share a bit of wisdom, it would be greatly appreciated. And if anyone lives in the DC area, you'll earn yourself an invite and free beer for a game!
 

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Hey there PMC Community,
Welcome aboard! Let me take a stab at this...

I plan to make the top in two pieces so it can fold and fit under a bed. Going to cut it in half, screw in hinges on the top side, but only at the edges so it will be away from the playing surface. My plan was to mount the hinges, then pad and felt the playing surface and run a double line of staples just along each side of the seam so that the padding and felt wouldn't bunch up when the table gets folded. Basically forcing a nice seam for the table to fold at. This will make the padded rail a bit hard, but i think i'm going to use the same strategy as for the table felt and taper the padding as it gets to the seam so that right at the seam it will only be vinyl to fold, and not the foam.
I think there might be problems with this but I may not be visualizing it well. A picture would help immeasurably.

On the bottom, i'm going to spray glue some black felt (probably the very first step) so that the table underneath won't get damaged. Then some 1x1" strips strategically placed on each side will keep the table top snugly fitted to the table.
Reasonable.

1) Will having a rectangular poker table present any problems i'm not forseeing? Obviously the classic oval table is better for seeing everyone, but are there structural/construction advantages to it?
No. You know the obvious, but you have to work within your limitations.

2) What is the best way to mount the rail to the table? In almost every tutorial, this seemingly important step is totally skipped. Should i just flip the whole thing over and screw in from the bottom using proper length screws that won't come out the top of the rail? I'm just very reluctant to screw anything from underneath bc it worries me when the sharp end is up!
You're right to ensure screw length is correct and to not over-tighten them so they bore in past their entended depth. An alternative is to use T-nuts: the nuts themselves would go into the bottom of your rail and you would use a bolt that runs through the table and into the rail bottom to snug things up (a wide washer will help distribute the load). This makes it possible to disassemble the rail as well.

3) Will vinyling around a right angle be very difficult?
No. You may want to sand down the wood or router the edges to reduce the chance that a rough edge will work its way through, however.
I might get some pieces of tin or something to nail in at the corners on the outer edge to hide the seam if it’s ugly.
If you cut and wrap the ends right, it should look tidy enough.

4) I'd love to customize the playing surface a bit. Are there any methods other than screen printing that don't interfere too much?
I'd stay away from this, if possible: doing it right costs money; doing it wrong may look pretty in the short term but can damage a playing surface or begin to look bad in short order.

5) Are cupholders in the rail a pain in the ass?
Nope. Very common choice.

A great set of questions. Don't hesitate to keep asking more.
 

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Welcome to the forum. Some answers below:

A few question regarding this plan:

1) Will having a rectangular poker table present any problems i'm not forseeing? Obviously the classic oval table is better for seeing everyone, but are there structural/construction advantages to it?
As you state below, the corners will be tough to upholster. But besides that, not really.

2) What is the best way to mount the rail to the table? In almost every tutorial, this seemingly important step is totally skipped. Should i just flip the whole thing over and screw in from the bottom using proper length screws that won't come out the top of the rail? I'm just very reluctant to screw anything from underneath bc it worries me when the sharp end is up!
You can use T-nuts and bolts (cheaper), or threaded inserts and connector bolts (a little more $ but easier to install & more reliable):
EZ-Lok Threaded Inserts - The Perfect Man Cave

3) Will vinyling around a right angle be very difficult? I'm not an upholstery expert, so i have a bit of a hard time visualizing the process until i'm doing it, but my initial thought is the only tricky part will be making the inside and outside corner edges look clean. Aside from that, there should be no cutting really. Depending on how the corners come out, I might get some pieces of tin or something to nail in at the corners on the outer edge to hide the seam if it’s ugly.
It's doable, but 90 degree corners are going to be really tough. Maybe you could slightly overbuild the rail and round the corners a bit?

4) I'd love to customize the playing surface a bit. Are there any methods other than screen printing that don't interfere too much? The screenprinting’s not out of the question, but a DIY method would be ideal.

5) Are cupholders in the rail a pain in the ass? This setup makes it impossible to put cupholders in the playing surface or on a racetrack, so the rail is the only option. I'm inclined to just skip it, but i'm sure i'll feel differently once a precariously balanced beer spills on my brand new table!
They're not a huge PITA, but they take a little work to get right. Linky with more info:
Cup Holders in Rail (with rings) - The Perfect Man Cave.
As an alternative, you could also use slide-under cup holders.


Sorry for the total onslaught of questions, no pressure for anyone to answer any or all, but for whomever can share a bit of wisdom, it would be greatly appreciated. And if anyone lives in the DC area, you'll earn yourself an invite and free beer for a game!
One additional comment on your approach - the hinge/fold in the playing surface sounds like it could work, but I'd skip any type of hinge in the rail and make it 2 pieces with the break in the middle if you're pressed for space. You're going to have to take it on/off each time you set up the table anyways, I think an additional hinge would just get in the way and over complicate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much guys! Talk about instant gratification!

Thanks so much. Especially about the T-nuts. I hadn't thought of that type of hardware before, but it makes perfect sense. I like the T-nuts because i can get one length of bolt now, and in the future i could get slightly longer ones and use those as mounting points for under-rail cupholders.

As for the problem of the folding seam, what about this idea:

What if i kept both pieces totally separated and put some sort of attachment on the bottom to keep the two pieces held tightly together while playing?

I'm thinking either some sort of clasp or nylon strapping that i could pull tight each time. I'm not sure the name of the clasp i'm thinking of, but i'm thinking of something sort of like what's on those cases used by every band, venue, travelling circus, etc ever. I can't for the life of me remember the name of those types of cases, but the clasps are the slightly cammed (not sure if that's really the proper word) to provide a bit of torque when they're closed. The kind of thing that might keep a non-zippered suitcase closed.

The other idea is some nylon strapping with anchor points permanently attached to either half with a buckle in the middle. The beauty of this method is i could pull the straps tight each time to ensure a perfect fit, whereas with permanent hardware there's always the possibility of not mounting in the perfect location and not having the tightest join possible. The other upside to the straps is that i could loosen them up but leave them connected and it would provide a nice hinge for the table. Add straps at the ends and i could keep the whole thing nice and tidy when not in use.

How do you two feel about those options?
 

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A split rail that attaches can be done, but is kind of gank, because it never looks right, or holds together like you want it to. Sure, you could do it, and there's hardware to do so, but it's tough to be happy with the results when you're done.

Why not just make a table that doubles are you dining room table, and then flips or has a topper for poker? I seem to have built a few some years ago... lemme drag out some pics.... brb
 

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two poker tables


dining room table


:)~
 
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