OBVIOUSLY, this is a pretty exclusive instructable, as you'll need to live in a cold climate with plenty of snow for this to work. There was a little blizzard that had moved through Hamilton this past winter ('07) that gave me the material I needed to make this a reality. Having temperatures at 20 degrees and below at night helped as well, especially with freezing the table's top surface. Where you are geographically (and thus what type of snow you normally get) will impact the process involved in making the table as well; I'll explain more about different approaches to dealing with that factor later on in the instructable.
The instructions here for the top ice surface are based largely on Wisegeek's Introducing Table Hockey on Real Ice tutorial, which is definitely a good thing to check out in its own right. The snow base & cup moldings were modifications I made on my own design, as well as the fact that my final table doesn't have a piece of plywood wedged in it. :)
Ready to start playing beer pong like Eskimos? Bundle up, and let's get to it!
Step 1: General Overview & Materials List
Here's the general outline of what we'll be doing, and the approximate time frame you'll need to complete the project:
1. Buy Materials / Do a snow dance (however long it takes you to do that; my snow dances might take days--like speaking Entish--but yours may be shorter/longer).
2. Compact the snow base (this took me several hours, but it will depend on the type of snow you're working with).
3. Setup the ice rig (for the table surface; a few minutes tops).
4. Layer the table (I did this over the course of 3 nights, adding a new layer each night; the process can be sped up tremendously if it is particularly cold--10 degrees F or below--but it'll still probably take you at least one night, unless you're an Eskimo insomniac).
5. Transfer the table surface to the table base (hardly any time at all, if you have the right manpower).
6. Engrave the cup molds (a few minutes)
7. Drink and be merry in inebriated frivolity (many, many hours)
Here's a list of the materials you'll need: you may need to adjust depending on your circumstance, but these are what worked for me.
--> SNOW!! & Cold Temperature (this project won't work without them!)
--> Snow shovel
--> Ice scraper (like the one for your car; helps if it has a brush on it too)
--> 2 large trashcans
--> 2 large pieces of MDF (4' x 8'...thick is good, but too thick is unwieldy. We'll be reinforcing one with the other so whatever thickness you get will be doubled for the table-top construction. MDF is a type of wood sheet, as I understand it...forget what it stands for...but you can basically go into any hardware store that deals wood and say "I need a plank 'o' wood" and you'll get something that'll work) *1
--> 2 smaller pieces of MDF (4' x 2.5'...thickness not as important here, but don't go too thin or it'll warp) *1
--> 2 2"x4"x8' wood beams *1
--> 2 2"x4"x44" wood beams *1 *2
--> A level
--> 2-3 saw-horses, or suitable supports (for holding the MDF & ice - must be strong & weather-resistant)
--> A water-spritzer bottle (I used an old Febreeze bottle; well, actually it still was in use, but I dumped it out into a temporary container, washed it, and used it anyway)
--> 2 smaller planks of wood (like shallow shelves; dimensions don't really matter...see the section on making the ice surface for visual example)
--> Plastic sheet (4 mil)
--> Suitable weights (I used paint cans)
--> A bucket ( for ferrying water; if you have a hose you can use, by all means! Your back will thank you)
--> Red Solo Cups (none other! If they're grooved on the side, you can have them lock into place in the cup molds)
--> Strong friends (to help you transfer the ice top to the snow base)
Optional Materials, for that extra pizazz:
--> Icicle lights (blue looks really cool)
--> Halogen outdoor working lights
--> A work buddy (Thanks be to me housemate of old, Mr. Ben!)
--> About 8-10 large C-clamps
--> Food dye
*1 These measurements are dependent on what size table you want to build. 4'x8' was precut at the lumber mill I went to, so it was easier to get that then have them cut it. As far as beirut goes, it's a little on the big side, but I prefer a bigger table (better contest of skill, in my honest opinion).
*2 The length of these pieces needs to be less than the other two, so they all fit together to make a rectangle. The wood beams need to fit onto the tables surface and not drape off the side.
Apart from the wood & plastic, I had everything else I needed laying around the house. All tolled, I only spent about $40, but that will vary depending on how many of the materials you already have (of course).
Got all that? Sweet. Let's move on to setting up the ice rig...