Monday, July 28, 2014

DnD Table 3 and 4



Preamble

Our gaming table has gone through many phases.  The first was an 8x4 foot sheet of plywood on some sawhorses.  We wrapped it in felt and stapled it down, but the felt kept pilling and it was hard to replace.  We chopped it down to 6 feet, split it down the middle and swapped vinyl for felt, but the legs were still hard to store.  The third mod was to replace the cumbersome legs.  The fourth was a new and lighter table top.

This has been useful for gaming, crafts and many other activities.  It is light weight and takes up very little room.  We keep ours in the garage and pull it out when we need it.

The Legs

Lowe's had some really nice seasoned 2x3's.  A few hours and chop saw got me a new set of legs.  The chief features of the table are its simple construction and plentiful leg room.  It has been a chore to find a good way to attach the top to there, however.  Overall, the legs have been maintenance and trouble free.  If I borrowed the design from somewhere, I have forgotten it.  If you attempt to replicate it, read all instructions first, measure twice and cut once, and always wear your safety glasses.

The cut list is basic and can be created from six 8 foot 2x3's, Not compound angles are needed, but the legs have angled cuts.  The measurements below rely on the geometry of your lumber being moderately predictable: Two 2x3's together should come out to 3 inches.  You may have to adjust the length of your interior cuts if this is not the case:
  • Outside Length: 72" x 2
  • Inside Length: 69" x 2
  • Outside Width: 27" x 2
  • Inside Width: 21" x 2
  • Legs: 30"+ x 4
  • Blocks: 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 4 (mine are from oak as that's what I had lying around)
  • Lots of 2 1/2" construction screws
  • 4x 5 1/2" Carriage Bolts with Washers and Nuts

Assembly of the top is also basic.  Remember to drill pilot holes for all screws ans work from the inside out:
  1. Inside Width -> Inside Length 
  2. Inside Length -> Outside Width
  3. Outside Width -> Outside Length
The legs can be tricky to position depending how high you want the table top.  For my 24" height top, the legs are 26 1/2" with a 75 degree cuts at both ends (making a parallelogram and not a trapezoid).  The legs meet in the center of the table top.  The math to place the hole precisely has been lost, but those inclined should have no trouble replicating it.  In general, slip your uncut legs into the slots between the Inside and Outside Length so that they meet in the middle.  At a point between 9 and 11.5 inches from the end of the table end, drill the hole for your carriage bolt through both Inside Length, the Leg and Outside Length.  Make sure the hole is not closer than 2 3/4" from the end of the Leg.  Thread the bolt through the hole and test your leg height.  Cut your leg into a parallelogram to maximize contact with the floor and minimize interference with the table top.  Position the Blocks to ensure the legs only rotate a certain amount.


If all goes well, you should have a sturdy and light set of legs to use as a base for any table top you can dream of.  The method of attaching the top to the base is discussed in the next section.

The Top

The latest addition was a lighter table top.  Previously, we used a piece of 3/4" Oak Plywood with vinyl stapled to it.  This was extremely sturdy and stable, but it was a huge pain to move.  I designed the new top to be light and attach directly to the legs.

Much like the legs, the top was stick framed using flashing from Lowe's.  This time, 1x2's provided a good base, and Kreg Pocket Hole joinery held everything together.  Along the center line, two lengths are abuttewd to provide enough surface area for the hinges.  Instead of heavy plywood, I used a thin luan top.  All this was wrapped in vinyl again (the most successful table covering we've had thus far).  Unlike previous folding incarnations, the vinyl was split in two pieces and each half of the hinged top was wrapped separately.  The cut list for my 6' 6" top is below.  The Inside Stiles are not required to be the listed lengths as long as their total lengths come under 72".  I placed them so they would fit between the blocks in the legs and help the top align to the legs.  Your mileage may vary; see lessons learned below.  As always, your local dimensional lumber may vary, measure twice, cut once, and always wear your safety glasses:

  • Outside Stile: 78" x 4
  • Rail: 19" x 8
  • Inside Stile (Ends): 17 7/16 x 8
  • Inside Stile (Center): 37 1/8" x 2

Assembly is a little trickier than the Legs.  With your pocket hole jig, join the Outside Stile to the Rails at both ends.  Use the Inside Stiles to locate where to place the inside Rail.  Add the Inside Stiles to make a double-layer of wood in the center of the table-top to better brace the hinges.



With two halves of a table top in hand, it is time to locate the hinges.  Match the hinge location to your legs so they won't interfere with how the table sits flush.  The vinyl wrapped on the side that will be the center of the table will need to be relieved where the hinges will go.  I chose to wrap after attaching the hinges.  I now feel this was a mistake. In the pic above, I've routed out a place for my hinges.  In practice, I didn't need to do this.  Just clamp the table halves together after the vinyl is in place, locate your hinges parallel and centered on the joint and screw in place.

I have tried many things to secure the table top with a minimum of fuss.  Right now, I'm using machine screws and associated sockets sunk into the top.  The screws thread through the legs and into the top.  They require climbing under the table.

Lessons Learned

  1. I would decide on a method of attaching the table before I started building.  The primary candidate is a Sash Lock.  Placed correctly, it would easily lock the legs to the table top without climbing under each time.
  2. I would avoid insetting the hinges.  Instead, careful placement would allow the hinges to be used without interfering with the mating of table top and legs.
  3. I would wrap the vinyl completely around the top so all stapling was done on the bottom.
  4. I would not tell my gaming group how much better this version of the table was until after it had proven itself.  I have gotten no end of grief every time I climb under it to hook the two together.  What are friends for, eh?

Bonus Shot: Plans


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