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Wood Work

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 the table.

Take a close look at Figure 18.1 below, as it clarifies the next step pretty well.



Handmade poker table railing guide
Figure 18.1: Handmade 5” guide


Pilot hold for cutting poker table rail
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

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