Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Gaming Table Is Born - Part 1, Schemes and Plots

Greetings one and all. Those with long memories (or, y'know following the archive) will recall that one of my gaming resolutions was that there will be a gaming table in my house by the end of the year.

yeahhh, now for some reality?
Well, I've decided that now is the time to start. As with most of my projects it is way, way more likely to be completed if I share it with the world! Plus, I figured that my musings, trials, tribulations and solutions might help some folks in a similar situation. To kick off, I need to identify what the situation is here and what I can make to meet my needs:

Early Considerations

The first thing to decide is: Permanent or Take-down table? Well, this is an easy consideration. I just do not have the space for a permanent table in the house. I only just have enough room to have my studio in a corner. So take-down table is going to be the win.

I have a Realm of Battle board that has been waiting for this project to be used. These things are ace but really cannot be used without a hard surface beneath them. Thus, a take-down hard surface is in order. The next question is how large? Ideally the table would be 8'x4' so that a 6'x4' table would have an extra foot of space either side for rulebooks, casualties and errant cups of tea (all gaming essentials to the 33 year old Brit...). Sadly, this isn't going to fly either. The only space I have is in the living room and there just isn't enough room to get an 8' long table in there. 6'x4' it will be then! Tea will simply have to be drunk carefully.

Designing the Table - now we get clever

I have a plan here, I want to have the most versatile gaming surface possible. The Realm of Battle board will provide a nice hilly grasslands but the table itself can provide two other surfaces all by itself. By texturing and painting one side of the table in an urban grey-brown and the other in a desert-ey beige I will have the three most commonly played scenic choices in one table.

But, there is a problem (who knew right?) the table will be being stored behind one of the couches against the wall... of my rented house. The thought of acrylic paint transferring in neat 6' long lines doesn't bear thinking about. I needed a way of protecting the wall and the paint surface alike. Initially I thought about just having a long bit of pipe lagging along the upper edge but this would still leave the edges prone to wear and chipping. A more cunning solution was called for. The solution?

I'll screw a wooden strip edge all the way around. having a small - 5-10mm - lip around the table on both surfaces will protect the textured surface and will prevent paint transfer to the wall. It will also clamp the Realm of Battle board and prevent clumsy, ham-fisted types from knocking the tiles off. Huzzah! While I am putting screws in to the edge I might as well add some handles to the short edges. It'll help enormously when the table is being extracted from it's lurking-behind-the-sofa home.

The rectangles in the middle of the design represent the nice sturdy coffee table I have (with a cloth on it to prevent scratching) and a sawhorse at the other to support the end. This means I only have to make the surface and a simple sawhorse, not legs.

So what do I need?

I'll start with a solid, thick 18mm sheet of MDF. This will not bend. It is flaming heavy but the handles will help with this. If I pick my store right they'll knock off the excess 2' from the 8'x4' sheet for free. I'll have them cut the excess into a pair of 2'x2' tiles for future urban work.

I need to research the edging material, there may be a sensible choice, needs to be fairly tough though. Handles will need to be comfy to hold so quite large. For texturing, sharp sand and PVA make a concrete like surface that is hard to beat. Slow to dry but a lot better than textured paint. For the urban side I am toying with the idea of using textured wallpaper to look like tarmac. Might bottle out and go sandy again.

And that is it for part 1 of A Gaming Table is Born. Next time I'll share my plans for getting the very most out of this table with regards to the scenery sets I'll design for this and importantly, the order that I'm going to make them in to get to gaming as fast as possible!



  1. I went for a modular design consisting of 4'x4' and 2'x4' sections with 1x3 legs that bolt into place. You can learn a lot from model railroaders....

  2. I found internal flush house doors ideal base boards they are lightweight and stiff, they are basically 2 thin skins of thin mdf with bracing timbers between. Even better if you can find someone doing up their house they chuck them away.