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The poker table top

The second decision you will have to make is how you want the ends of your table to look. Do you want each end to be a continuous arc, or do you want to just have rounded-off corners. One factor to consider for this decision is the sharper the corner, the more difficult it will be when adding the padded railing. I typically build mine to have gentle, rounded off corners instead of a continuous arc. In my preferred design, the end of the table has a gentle curve, and then goes to flat, then to another gentle curve (see the image to the right below).

Note: If you decide to go with a continuous rounded arc, it is an easy modification, which I’ll cover later on.

Continuous arc

Rounded-off corners

The tabletop… here's where you'll make your money!

If you’re planning to have this table for a while, be sure to use a nice solid wood for the tabletop. If you buy pine or pressboard, it will come back to haunt you. The first time you have your 250-pound weightlifting buddy put his guns up on the padded railing and really lean on it, you've just wasted your time and money because pressboard isn't durable. Given enough time and use, it will eventually fail. Ever seen what liquid does to pressboard? Enough said.

I strongly recommend you buy birch or oak plywood. It costs around $40 per 8'x4'x ¾" sheet and is solid as a rock. It won’t warp a fraction of what pine or pressboard will. Have the lumber representative where you buy your plywood cut your sheet to 42" wide, the standard size for gaming tables. This is important as casino table hardware and materials are typically designed to fit a 42" wide table.

Next, and this is important if you don't want to make another run to the store, have the lumber representative rip the remaining 6" wide strip of plywood in half length wise (into two 8'x3"x¾" strips) while you’re still in the store, as we will use this wood underneath the table top for support, strength, and also to bracket around the Lifetime table. Make sure you leave the lumber store with one 8'x42"x¾" sheet + two 8'x3"x¾" strips.

Note: If you decide to go with a 7' table, be sure to have the two strips cut first before cutting length off the end, as you will still want the two 8'x3"x¾" strips of plywood.

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