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If you followed my advice and read all the way through
the plans before you start, you will have known to get two sheets of
plywood at the lumber store instead of one, and cut them both the same
way (6” off length-wise). For the second piece of plywood, you
can go with something a little less expensive than Birch. You can buy
a good 8’x 4’x ¾” plywood sheet for around
$25. Just like with the Birch tabletop piece, take your time and look
for a good sheet that is as straight and flat as possible and has as
few knots as you can find. Just like the top, have 6” cut length-wise
from one side to get a main piece that’s 8’x42”x3/4”.
Set the plywood on a sawhorse or your Lifetime table bow
side up if there is one. Cut the corners exactly the same way you did
for the tabletop. Try to be just as precise as you did for the tabletop
piece, as it will look much better when the railing is the same length
and width as the tabletop. Just as before, be careful cutting with the
jigsaw, as its pretty unforgiving if it comes into contact with your
body. And always use safety glasses.
Figure 17: Preparing the plywood
piece of the railing.
For the next step, you must decide how wide you want your
railing. I’ve found 5” works pretty well. It gives you some
nice elbowroom, yet doesn’t take too much playing area away from
Take a close look at Figure 18.1 below, as it clarifies the next step
Figure 18.1: Handmade 5” guide
Figure 18.2: Dark guideline & pilot hole for jigsaw
I am using a handmade guide to help me make a very precise
5” line around the edge of the plywood. You can use a couple pieces
of scrap wood to make a guide. Set the first piece of scrap wood on
top so that (pencil included) you measure 5” from the edge. Make
a mark across the underside of the scrap wood. Use this mark on the
underside as a reference point to screw or nail the second (bottom)
piece of scrap wood to the bottom of the first piece. I actually tape
the pencil onto the end of the guide to ensure I have an exact 5”
measurement all the way around the table. This helps the pencil hold
firmly against the guide.
Move the guide, with the pencil as shown in Figure 18.1,
slowly around the circumference of the table marking a dark line as
you go. See Figure 18.2 for what the finished product should look like.
The darker the line, the better you will be able to see during the next
cut when sawdust is everywhere.
To establish a starting point for the jigsaw, you’ll
need to drill a ½” pilot hole (or whatever size is required
for your jigsaw) near the inside of the line (see Figure 18.2). This
is where you will start cutting to remove the centerpiece. Remember,
you’re keeping the outer ring, not the centerpiece. Cut accordingly.
For this step, a second person is almost essential as
handling the two pieces of wood will get cumbersome for one person to
handle the closer you get to completely cutting out the centerpiece.
Your helper can hold both sides of the wood as you cut. The centerpiece
should naturally fall away from the outside ring as you cut.
Here is what you want to end up with (see Figure 18.3).
The final product is an 8’x42”x3/4” rounded rectangular
ring that is 5” wide. Sand down the rough areas and edges as much
as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you don’t
want to have any jagged edges that the foam or Naugahyde material might
catch and rip on.
Figure 18.3: The wood base of the railing