Gaming Table Complete!

I’ve always wanted to have a dedicated gaming table.  Why you ask?  Well, there are a lot of reasons.  Probably the most important is session setup.  I’m an avid consumer of Dwarven Forge Products, and not only does it take a good 3 hours for a large map setup, but I always find myself wishing I could have fine tuned it some more before the session begins.   If you’re like me, you have to set the pieces up the night before the game, so you don’t abscond the dining room table for long periods of time.  With a dedicated gaming table, I can setup as early as the end of the last session and if I change my story before the next session, I can adjust my setup as necessary.

Another issue with not having a dedicated gaming table, is the dimensions.  My dining room table, is just not wide enough.  With players on each side of the table, books and dice crowding a little over a square foot or so of space, means, I’m losing a little over 2 feet of table width, severely limiting my map space.  As you can see below, by trying to have a decent map on the table, it severely limits the amount of space available to the players.

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Problem being, is that I’m not going to go out and spend money on a gaming table, when I can make due with what I have, however, if building a table using minimal resources was an option, then I was all for it.  I am by no means a handy man;  quite the opposite actually. But being a homeowner sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone, so you don’t have to pay 5 times the cost to have a professional come in and do it.  I started out simple, building a couple of large garden boxes for my wife, at 8′ by 4′.  All I needed was a circular saw, some screws, a drill (with the necessary bits), some staples and some weed blocker cloth.  For those inclined, it was a cake walk.  For me, it was a learning experience, to put it gently.  It was a great stepping stone for a skill set that would allow me to finally build my gaming table.

Here are some pics of the garden boxes I created:

Garden Box 2

Garden Box 1

The little thing sticking out is a seat, so my wife can sit when she’s gardening.  It was a last minute addition given I had some left over wood.

So I started putting together a plan for my table.  The garden boxes were just 8′ x 4′ frames, using 8′ long 2″ x 4″‘s and some 4″x4″ pressure treated wood as corner posts, to give it some stability and to hold some of the fencing to keep the animals out.  Then I just attached more 2″ x 4″s up the side of the posts, to create walls.  If you turned them over, it was a like a table without a top.  I attached the weed blocker by hammering in some staples, flipped it over, threw a lot of dirt in and voila, garden boxes.  I figured I could follow a similar frame, but throw a top on it and call it a table.  I didn’t need anything fancy, just something to play on.

So after about 6 months, I started buying the wood needed for my table.  Considering I’d done this before for the garden boxes, I got a frame up pretty quickly.  (within 2-3 hours)  However, realizing that my table was a little longer than 8′ long, as I put the frame on the outside of the 4″ x 4″ corner posts (the legs of the table), and after seeing at the hardware store, that wood generally came in 8′ x 4′ plywood sheets, I would have to buy something longer, or buy two sheets, cut them to fit JUST over 8’, which seemed silly really.  So I started to modify the frame, but realized that given it’s current state, I needed some outside help to hold certain things in place while I drilled and all that jazz, so the project went dead for awhile.

After seeing a large gathering of my closest friends over one weekend in early March, one of them (Justin) made the mistake of offering to help me.  As someone who has built decks and finished his own basement, I took him up on his offer and he has regretted it ever since.  Seriously though, due to how awesome he is, he drove all the way from New Hampshire the night before the big project, a good 3 1/2 hour drive to where I live in NY, so we could start the day fresh and finish this gaming table.  He claimed it would only take 2-3 hours.  He was completely full of crap, but I appreciated his optimism.

So we go downstairs, evaluate the pros and cons of what I’d like in the table and what he thinks is feasible and decide that the best thing to do is dismantle everything I’d done this far and start fresh.  I gave him a look that portrayed a good mix of go F*** yourself and Kiss my a**, but ultimately, with the knowledge I had someone there who would help me do it RIGHT, I got over it and moved on.  We proceeded to unscrew and dislodge the whole table while I cried like a baby.  At times it was fairly annoying when dealing with counter sunk screws that were stripped, just so we could utilize the wood I already bought, but in the end, it only took about 30-45 minutes to destroy the table, along with my pride.

So here were the requirements I had for the table:

  • The table needed to be wide.  At least 5′ wide, to allow for a little more than 3′ of gaming space.
  • Bottom Frame needed to be 8′ long, to accommodate not having to buy multiple sheets of plywood
  • I wanted it to be recessed, because it looks cooler and allows for more stable vertical constructions.
  • The sides shelves of the table needed to be a minimum of 7-8″ wide, to allow for proper stability of books, character sheets, etc.
  • The recessed portion needed to be something that would prevent slippage of the gaming tiles
  • The table needed to be easily moved, because something of this size, was really heavy.
  • When sitting at the table, it had to feel comfortable for someone to reach approximately 1/2 way across the table, without having to get up.  (I measured how much leg room I had at my dining room table and just aimed to match that)

So, here is what we needed for the project:

  • (6) 4″ x 4″ corner posts to act as legs
  • (1) 8′ x 4″ piece of plywood.  We went with 3/4″ thick, but 1/2″ thick would have been fine.
  • (8) 2″ x 4″ x 8′ long pieces of wood
  • (6) casters (wheels), one for each of the legs.  We chose the ones that support 125 lbs. each and the 4 corner legs had locking wheels on them.
  • (3) yards of black Felt (found at Joann’s fabrics for 5.99 a yard)
  • (1) box of 4″ deck screws (I went with coated)
  • (1) box of 3 1/2″ deck screws (also coated)

I never thought of taking pictures of the table in progress, so lo and behold, here is the end result.

Gaming Table

Once it was complete, I couldn’t help but begin to set it up with my Dwarven Forge pieces.  Here are some pictures of a setup I threw together in a couple of hours.

Setup 1

I used Dungeon Tiles from Dwarven Forges 1st Kickstarter as a wall around the town, though the town is comprised of all 3 Dwarven Forge Kickstarter pieces, comprising of dungeon, cavern and city builder tiles.

Setup 2

I really love my docks.

Setup 3

Setup 4

Sorry, the last one is a little blurry.  The water and cobblestone maps are from Game Matz  and are 3′ long by 3′ wide.  That leaves a good 6-8″ of playable area still available to work with.

The forest tiles are a mix of the following two dungeon tile sets:

  1. Witchlight Fens
  2. Wilderness Dungeon Tiles

The cottages and wizards tower are from Pegasus Hobbies.

The tudor and stone houses/gatehouse are from Dwarven Forge‘s City Builder System.

I still have some more work to do on the table, but it is technically usable at this point.  I need to put wood filler in the screw holes, sand the shelves of the table down, and put some additional bracing on the legs, because I’m paranoid and really like the idea of a solid table.  The only downside is that I have no idea how I will ever get it out of my house when it is time to move, without the help of like 6 other people.

Overall though, I’m ecstatic with the way the table came out and I know my players will be too.

If anyone is interested in more detail on how I put the table together, feel free to email me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com.

– Jinx

 

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

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