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Build a Poker Table - Let's get Started

First, choose which side of your plywood you prefer to be the top. If your plywood is slightly bowing, place the direction of the bow up, and let gravity and our underneath framing take the bow out. I suggest this because when wood sits in a warehouse for a long time, even strong wood tends to sag a bit or conform to whatever structure it is sitting on. You can go a long way toward avoiding this situation by carefully choosing the smoothest and flattest piece of birch or oak plywood you can find in the store. If you are going with pine or pressboard, some level of warping will just be a fact of life.

Take your plywood and place it squarely on your workbench or on the floor bottom-up. Put your Lifetime table bottom up right on top of the plywood. You’ll need to have the table exactly in the middle, so for the 8’ table plans measure 12" on each end and 6" on each side to center the table. If you are building a 7' table, the measurements will be 6" and 6", respectively. Take your pencil and outline around the table to make a visual picture of where this table will be on the underside (see Figure 3). Then, if you need to move the table around, you don't have to re-measure and realign everything.



folding poker table base

Figure 3: Note I use a Lifetime table as a workbench instead of working off the floor. Don’t let this throw you off. The board and the top table are all you should focus on here. What you see here is the Lifetime table you’ll be working with, sitting on top of the bottom of the poker tabletop, sitting on top of my workbench (which also happens to be a Lifetime table).


As mentioned previously, you now need to decide what shape you want the ends your table to have - a continuous arc on each end, or just rounded off corners. For either design, you’ll need to be able to draw one or more arcs on the end of the plywood. The technique I use to outline the required cuts is a simple one. I just get some kite string and tape it onto a pencil (as low as possible). Then, holding one end of the string on my center point on the table and the pencil in my other hand, I can draw nice looking radials for corners (See Figure 4.1).



Measuring the poker table radius
Figure 4.1: Measuring the radius.


Drawing the poker table arc
Figure 4.2: Drawing the arc.


While you have some flexibility, I recommend a ~12" radius (See Figure 4.3). For this design, you’ll need 12 inches of string between your center point and the pencil. Keep in mind the padded railing becomes difficult to install around sharp corners, and the final product won’t look as nice as when it’s installed along gentle curves. I’ve found 12” is a nice arc to work with. Whatever radius you choose to go with, your center point with be the length and width of your radius from each corner.



12 inch radius rounded corner poker table
Figure 4.3: Rounded off corners


Round end Texas Holdem poker table
Figure 4.4: Continuous arc


If you want a completely rounded end, the string measurement is ~21" (see Figure 4.4). Which design you choose will affect what needs to be done with the framing underneath slightly. If you opt for the 12" radial measurement, you won’t be cutting off as much of the tabletop as with the continuous arc design. Thus, the 12” radius design will end up with a little more playing area.

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