Picture of LED Pinball coffee table
There I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden (as all good stories start) I found an old pinball machine at the dump.  I promptly took it home and has help putting it in the house where it sat in my living room long enough to put rust stains on the carpeting where the metal feet sat.

It wasn't complete enough to make it work without spending a lot of time and money on it.  I live too far away from a market to sell it as-is.  And honestly, the wife didn't seem too keen on starting a game parlor with our limited space.

So I decided to make a coffee table out of the main playing surface.

(Please add a link to www.zieak.com if you mention this project someplace other than Instructables.)

Step 1: Tools and materials

Picture of Tools and materials
This will largely depend on what you have available...
  • a pinball machine
  • lumber
  • plywood
  • screws
  • staples
  • hot glue
  • tempered glass
  • aluminum stock
  • wood glue
  • a few strings of LED Christmas lights
Some suggested tools...
  • screwdrivers
  • drill and bits
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • glue gun
  • staple gun
  • small nailgun
  • belt sander
  • miter saw
  • table saw
  • bench grinder
  • reciprocating saw
  • pliers
  • wire cutters
  • bolt cutters
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scoochmaroo4 years ago
You got geeked! http://www.geek.com/articles/games/pinball-machine-gets-a-second-life-as-a-coffee-table-20100930/
zieak (author)  scoochmaroo4 years ago
Cool! Thanks! I often check the "Stats" sidebar for incoming links and hadn't seen that one yet.
illuminatis4 years ago
If you havent yet discarded it the scoreboard would make a great matching end-table using the same method
zieak (author)  illuminatis4 years ago
Not a bad idea!

I think i can sell a set like that here. But nobody wants a project machine here. Well - other than me for this kind of use I guess.
This Idea got me interested in making some theme type tables for our game room. if you don't have a spare pinball table lying around you can find the backboards(in the pinball industry, they're called "translites") online http://www.pbresource.com/transl.htm this is just one place i found after a 5 min search, reasonable prices too. on the tables i want to do, i was thinking about using actual pinball table legs(which can also be found on the same site) for the table legs.
jeff-o4 years ago
Nice; I like that you used salvaged lumber as well as the salvaged pinball machine!
zieak (author)  jeff-o4 years ago
Thank you - I managed to not spend any money on parts or materials - just used things i had kicking around or (like the lights) had purchased a while ago.
mikeasaurus4 years ago
whoa, dump-find...cool!
Great build, and good call on getting those vintage parts to the right people. I can't believe you found it in the condition you did. The table looks awesome!

Great idea! Nice work!

quinault10 months ago

for me, it's impossible

maren101 year ago

great man love it

elishay5031 year ago
How do you prevent the pinball panel from falling?
Very nice job!!
bricmic4 years ago
AAAHHHH !!!! Horreur et Damnation un Sacrilège un Massacre !!!!!
C'est clair. En plus je me demande si c'est jouable. Il n'y a pas d'inclinaison ni de boutons. En fait c'est une table éclairée.
I have to agree! What's the next ible? Making a model t ford into a planter box? Or perhaps a P-51 mustang garden fountain?

It was your classic piece of americanna I guess you can trash it if you like. I would have paid you $700 for the PBM BTW.
zieak (author)  fly_boy_bc4 years ago
I'll take the $700 if you'll pay for shipping it to Seattle on a barge line and then the freight to wherever you live. I'll reassemble it (with the exception of the plastic pieces i cut) and package it nicely on a pallet with the legs off and the back removed for safest shipping.
Deal! But only if you can un-cut the irreplaceable pieces that you cut.
zieak (author)  fly_boy_bc4 years ago
I'll call your bluff. Here's one on Ebay that is more complete than the one I have for well under the price you mentioned... http://cgi.ebay.com/Bally-Paragon-Pinball-/290503332597?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a35912f5 And no bids with a day left!
1...The POINT is that turning an old PBM into a table PISSES OFF anybody who likes pinball machines.

2...using Non original REPLACEMENT parts LOWERS THE VALUE and it is NO LONGER ORIGINAL.

3...I could get that unit from Alaska to my door for around $150 because it could be DRIVEN DIRECTLY. (No ship to Seattle) (Even cheaper if you can tag a ride with someone who is going to make the trip anyway.
zieak (author)  fly_boy_bc4 years ago
I live on an island. You can't drive here directly.

Be pissed off at me - but I saved the PBM from the conveyor belt of a trash baler. Maybe some day the playfield will land in the hands of someone working on a complete restoration. Maybe the back glass will be the final piece someone was looking for. After months of research I determined that the cost of restoration on my end wasn't worth it and the cost of shipping the whole thing to others also was not worth it.

Poo-poo the project all you want. It's easy to just contribute negativity here.
ynneb zieak3 years ago
You make a great point. What is the greater loss? Been totally trashed by a compactor, or been converted into a coffee table with the possibility of future restoration. You did WELL to save it.
zieak (author)  fly_boy_bc4 years ago
And here are the "irreplaceable" pieces that I cut... Available for just $28.

Aron3133 years ago
Wowowowowowow thats sick!
this is soooo cool bro, i can't believe it's paragon! you are a lucky lucky man to have such a sexy coffee table
xavec4 years ago
cannot tell you how much I love this. And if I ever get my hands on an old pinball machine...

*evil cackle*
Robert T.4 years ago
where do you find a salvaged pinball machine? I live in a large city; what do you suggest? Please advise... I am dying to recreate the wonderful table and am pretty handy myself! Thanks in advance! 
hahaha is that you or did you put that in for jokes? xD
zieak (author)  STuFFeD FiSH4 years ago
That's my wife helping out with the project.
honigtiger4 years ago
freakingly cool thing you have built, I want it...;-)))...I think I'll have to make one...
Please dont make your own... Was cooler before you.....but looks good!
zieak (author)  honigtiger4 years ago
Thank you!
pie popper4 years ago
This is so cool! Good job :)
ChillyChick4 years ago
Zieak, Lower 48ers have no idea what shipping costs are. Good find, Great Job!!
ynneb4 years ago
I know guys who wold have driven 1000 miles to pay you good money for that machine.
Nice build, though I suspect MANY pinball enthusiasts will be quite upset at what you have done.
zieak (author)  ynneb4 years ago
Sadly, I live on an island In Alaska. But if you find someone willing to pay for the shipping of it to Seattle I'd love to get it in the hands of a true fan. The only thing i 'ruined" are the seven plastic parts that pop up... and I'm sure they could be repaired. Back glass is in excellent shape too...
ynneb zieak4 years ago
Try advertising it for a $1000 bucks. See what happens. Then you might be able to buy a coffee tables with the proceeds. :)
All this been said, I still like your build. Creative thinking.
Peale zieak4 years ago
Post on the KLOV boards - I'm sure there is someone that would take it.
Brunomaster4 years ago
you destroy the pinball to do a coffe table????? what is next?
mastercob4 years ago
That's a classic, prized pinball machine. And the playfield looks like it's in nice shape.

Nice table... but this makes me sad. I kiiiiinda think it coulda been fixed for not too much. As long as you're into circuit board soldering! ;)
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