Like all gamers, I dreamed about having my own dedicated gaming table, set up ready to go at a moment’s notice to take on my mates should they pop round. Fortunately for me I live on a retired farm so space isn't the biggest issue for me.
So I started thinking about what I'd ideally want from my gaming table. Well I'd want to incorporate storage. I'd want big playing surface so I could play different games on it and I'd want it to be mobile as I like to play outside in the summer.
I started looking online for inspiration and came across such a dedicated product online. What is offered is a dark wood unit with a 6x4 MDF playing surface that starts at £550. You can then pay for extras such as lockable doors on the units, castors to move the unit about and a laminated top to replace the bare MDF - all at additional costs.
Looking at what was on offer for the price I decided to have a go at making one myself for a fraction of the cost. As I saw it was basically TV (or kitchen) units stuck together with an MDF playing surface stuck on the top, with the added extras you want bolted on.
So I went to a big DIY store and purchased the following
1 - 8x4 MDF board uncut to be the playing surface
1 - 8x4 MDF board cut to 1000 mm by double the depth of your double base units - mine was 1000 by 1140 mm (you will get 2 boards this size from the one sheet)
2 boxes of 4 castors (each box contains 2 lockable and 2 standard swiveling castors) - link to the ones I bought from eBay https://www.ebay.co.uk/ulk/itm/371582936130
1 box of 100 wood screws
Baton - 3x8 ft lengths (to form a 'lip' around the gaming surface so foam gaming boards/dice do not fall off the table)
3x8 ft (to be cut to size)
I started by assembling the kitchen units following the instructions provided. Now as my wife will attest, I'm pretty bereft of experience when it comes to DIY so I was expecting this job alone to set me back half a day. I thought it's nice outside so I'll spend a couple of hours assembling one of the units in the Spring sunshine. Well I have to say that it all came together quicker than I thought that it would so decide to try for a second. Having just put one together, I found the experience a real help and the second one was assembled in no time. Now full on confidence, I plied on and within 2 hours of starting, I'd assembled all 4 units.
Buoyed by my progress in the sunshine I wanted to get more work nailed (excuse the pun) and set to mounting the kitchen units to the MDF bases I'd had cut by the DIY store. To do this I turned the units upside down and placed the board so it was flush with all the edges. I then drilled pilot holes in one corner and proceeded to screw
these corners of the MDF to the base units. I followed this up by ensuring the units were pulled tight, were flush with each other & the board and drilling pilot holes in the opposite corner. I then continued with the remaining 2 corners and then applying screws along each side as I saw fit.
The next step was to attach the castors. This was as simple as placing them in the corners and using a pencil to mark where the screws would need to go. I used 3 screws the same length as these would screw through the castor, MDF and into the base unit and 1 short screw that would pass through the castor and into the MDF (I didn't want this per trudging the MDF as it would be exposed in the storage area). Once all 4 castors were attached I flipped the unit back over and got on with mounting the other 2 units in the same way.
All in all to get to this stage I had spent around 4 hours working on my gaming unit.
My focus now turned to to the playing surface which is a single 8x4ft MDF board. I measured the widest points of the kitchen units to find the measurement to be 45" compared to the board at 49" giving me 1.5" along each edge of the board to drill down through the top of the board and affix a baton to the underside each side of the playing surface. This would serve 2 purposes - 1 it keeps the playing surface on the units and. 2 stops the playing units splitting and drifting apart.
When screwing the batons to the MDF board I "counter sunk" them. For those DIY noobs I believe this is when the screw head ends up below the surface of the MDF creating a little divot in the board. This adds extra strength to the joints but isn't great on your playing surface to I used so wood filler to fill the space and sanded them down flat once dry.
The next job was applying the lip to the edge of the playing surface. The idea was that this could have 2 purposes as well - 1 if playing with a mat of board games, the lip would stop dice falling off of the table and 2, I could insert 2x2ft tiles onto the table and the lip would keep it all right and on the board.
I had to work out the thickness of the MDF board and drill holes through the bottom of the MDF batons so that when I popped a screw through the hole, it would grip into the MDF and add the lip to the board.
Once the lip was added, I then took it back off so that I could apply the sticky back laminate to the board. Although I do not intend it to be the direct playing surface, I wanted to laminate the top to make it last longer in case of drink spills and to prevent the general stains you pick up on the MDF that can make the surface look dated and dirty. The intention is to place either board games, battle mats or tiles onto the top to play on.