This is a coffee table built from the playfield of a pinball machine. It is pretty easy to build and best of all, it lights up! It was inspired by a bar in Seattle called Shorty's, which has tables similar to these in its booths. My girlfriend and I both love pinball. We met at a pinball convention, and we both regularly attend pinball events and tournaments, so this was the perfect gift for her as well as being fun for me to build.

Step 1: Materials List

Here are the materials you will need for this project

1 pinball playfield
2 side pieces of wood cut to fit
2 end pieces of wood cut to fit
Moulding to be used for the top to hold the glass on
Tempered glass cut to fit
Four legs and hardware to attach
6V battery
Rocker switch
Screws and nails
Wood glue
I have loved this table for a few years, now! I'm so glad you are still here, and the plans are here, too! Man, what more could a carpenter need..? I want these plans, so work will begin soon! Thank you very much.
Awesome job! On the table and the instructable was very detailed and informative! <br>
I would love to either make one of these or get one for my husband. He loves pinball. This would be the coolest present ever and his birthday is next week and our anniversary the next. Hmmm!
That's an amazing idea. I think the only way it could be better is if you stained the wood. I may have to look into making one for myself, but I'm going to try to figure out a way to make it playable. Still a coffee table, but also a playable pinball machine. This could be my first instructable. What do you guys think?
that's our plan. <br>hopeing to make the playfield slanted, but build up the cabinet so it can be level, and playable.
you would have to put the playfield on an angle so the ball could roll down freely. good luck !
Your table is gorgeous!
always wanted to do one !!<br>would love to see a video, is there any??
WOW&nbsp;Amazing!!&nbsp;Would love one of these for my gameroom!<br />
&nbsp;Thank you for the inspiration! &nbsp;Was able to use the glass, coin door, top metal rails and flipper buttons off of a very old and falling apart scrap pinball machine. &nbsp;It has been hooked up with Christmas lights (the blinking white kind that comes with various blink settings) and looks great! &nbsp;
you should paint the sides the way the sides of the pinball are painted.
Great instructable! And your girlfriend looks as happy as a clam for the present!
I lOVE This! Great Idea and reuse.
how much was the whole project?
a lot
This is amazing...I love it!
overall I think this is a really great project. Another option is to save that old battery and charger form a cell phone. The table lights are originally designed to run off of AC power?
Incandescent lights WILL work on either AC or DC. Edison, as you may recall, used DC. It was Tesla who came up with AC.
hi five Tesla, but he didn't invent AC he just made it practical by building the AC motor.
why dont you stain/paint it?
It's amazing. Something like a glass table, but it's definitely more creative :)
Strong work! Shorty's rules!
<a href="https://www.instructables.com/file/FTJR4EGFFKCQ9QK/">https://www.instructables.com/file/FTJR4EGFFKCQ9QK/</a><br/><br/>Check it out<br/>
I just made one of these, thanks for the inspiration! I'll try and get it posted soon.
you should stain the wood, it would look reeeealy cool then
This is awesome! I am a *huge* pinball fan myself and although in a way it hurts me to see an Electro-Mechanic pinball machine dismantled, if it's a matter of trashing it or reusing it in this way, I go for this! Great instructable!<br/><br/>Have you thought about trying to use the original stainless steel legs? Although they need to get shortened for this purpose I think it might look very badass.<br/>
The best coffee tables for me!
I am a pinball machine lover, and have one of my own, and I happen to know that the playfield illumination bulbs are rated for only 6.3 volts, running them on more voltage will burn them out VERY FAST. A better idea would be to get out your soldering iron, wire and wire up a couple circuts of the non-general-illumination bulbs, maybe even to a flasher circuit... Overall, I love your project! It's very nice. I would recomend fitting it with a rechargable battery or power adapter, because by the look of it, you're running near 40 watts of bulbs which will deplete your lantern battery in between three and four hours. It's also possible the high current drawn is higher than the battery wants to supply, which would also make your bulbs dimmer - but I don't think that's your main issue. In any event, if you run your bulbs over-voltage you will be sorry, especially since they are about three dollars per box of ten, and quite a pain to replace all of them.
Thanks for the comments. Given that this is a string of 40 or 50 lights, I was thinking that they would offer enough resistance that pushing the voltage past 6 would be fine, although sure going up to 12 or something would be excessive. I don't like the idea of flashing, I think its just too much for something that sits in your living room. The easiest way to do that certainly would be to just staple a string of Christmas tree lights under the controlled lamps. All sorts of possibilities lie there.
RE: Lamps and resistance. You can easily tune the current by adding a resistor of the appropriate value to the battery-lamp circuit. In that way you would reap the benefit of the longer battery life without risking damage to the bulbs. It may be difficult to determine the resistance of the bulbs, as the resistance varies depending on whether the bulb is lit or not (near infinite when unlit; near zero when lit). Simply determine what resistance is needed to reduce the battery voltage to the correct amount (perhaps 6.3 volts as suggested) and run with that.
Also, putting more batteries parallel to the circuit would extend it's life as well. It looks like you have plenty of room under the table, maybe you should think about getting some 6v rechargeable ATV/Moped batteries and wire them up with a charging circuit. The 4-5 months (depending on usage, of course) would be a nice alternative to replacing batteries--not to mention the impact on the environment.
I am looking for some drawing of a pinball machine cabinet something 1980 to 1990 style easy to get parts for so I can build my own machine. Thanks for your help
Are you able to play it? It would be great if you could, It looks great however.
Splendid ! That is a nice work. I would like to build this for my own home use.
VERY COOL......and Shorty's is the BOMB! They also own a coffeeshop in the UDist and have a few pinball games there as well. Took my boy there the other day, he loves it. Have you thought about painting the cabinet? Or staining it? I'm sure you could find some sweet graphics to paint on the sides, or some really nice wood sheet laminate.
To use the Makita battery you would need to use about $2.00 worth of parts from Radio Shack to make a voltage regulator to drop it down to the 6v. I think the chip is a LM7806, dont have the catalog here to look it up. Along with a makita to cut the handle off of to have the battery mount so the battery would be removable for charging. The program to hook up displays can be found by researching PINMAME.
It's not that simple. The 7800 series regulators are limited to about 1.5A output (if well heatsunk; see the datasheet). And there's a lot more than 10W of lights there. You can use an external power transistor with a regulator like the LM317 to get higher current outputs. But... if you have a 12.6V battery and are using a linear regulator like that to drop to 6.3V then you are throwing away 50% of the energy capacity of the battery. Better to use a switching regulator or DC/DC converter with appropriate specifications. DC/DC converter blocks are available as ready-made modules (though they aren't cheap).
Love the project and want to do it for a left over worn playfield. That being said, just wanted to mention that choosing a choice, nonworn pinball playfield takes it out of circulation from someone who is desperately trying to restore an entire pinball in an incredibly shrinking supply. Most pinball companies are out of business. I love the project but I just recommend finding a non-restorablable playfield, which are easy to come by. Besides in the context of a coffee table the wear marks are nostalgic. I personnally restored a Williams Lucky Seven (the playfield used) and it took me months to find the parts. As to other issues raised, why not just restore a pinball completely versus remaking one into a coffee table, the resources online are phenomenal.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://pinball.flippers.info/">http://pinball.flippers.info/</a><br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.xmission.com/~daina/classified/index.html">http://www.xmission.com/~daina/classified/index.html</a><br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.marvin3m.com/fix.htm">http://www.marvin3m.com/fix.htm</a><br/><br/>As to playing the playfield in this format you need at least 3 circuit boards. An MPU, a Driver &amp; a power board. Trust me, as much effort as is being suggested to get a complete working playfield in a coffee table format it would just be easier to do a complete pinball machine restoration.<br/><br/>Another Pinball project I'd like to recommend is a pinball backglass lit from behind and put in a frame and hung on a wall.<br/>
One way to make the table operational with out using a traditional plundger just wire up a pinball solinoid ( like the ones they use to return the ball to play field ) to the start location. Also to add controls with out altering the case. Make a remote unit out of one of those $20 Plug-into-TV video pinball games. As for the score board you could use one or two of those $15 Projector Alarm clocks and project the score on the ceiling. (Both can be found at most retail stores)
Future Upgrade: Still keeping with the battery power - Instead of mounting the battery with screws and wood blocks, use lock down clamps or straps to hold the battery in place. OR go fancy and create a slider that you can pull out with the battery attached.
This is fantastic!! It would be interesting to add a button that would trigger a series of flashing and pinball sounds. You could trigger it every time you got Yahtzee! You could also take it another level higher by making some sort of automatic pinball control with a series magnets. It would look like its playing by it self. I really like your work. I wish I had one in my living room!
AWESOME IDEA! i'm going to try it
ADD THE BUTTONS AND CONTROLS!!! make it so you can actually play the game!! just no scoreboard to have making more weight!!
As an option, instead of using clear glass on the top. Either use 2/Way mirror or Smoke Plexiglass for the top of the table. That way when the lights are off it appears to be just a average mirrored/black top table.
You said that you could not screw the rocker switch down because it was only a half inch which was the same thickness as your material. In the future, take a spade bit that will leave a hole big enough to accempt the lock down nut. Br sure to drill a small pilot hole first where you want the switch to be. Then use you spade bit on the backside removing roughly 1/4" of the wood. You can then stick the switch through the hole and slip the nut onto the threads and tighten it down. This technique comes in handy on so many projects. Especially when you get caught short with lag bolts etc. that are too short for the thicknes of the wood. Very handy. I like the pinball table and want to build one
i like it. the wood matches your flooring just right.
I found this site while surfing the web : <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.sternpinball.com/">http://www.sternpinball.com/</a><br/>Within a few clik, we can find all Product Details, Game Details, Playfield Shot Map etc, lotsa goodies :)<br/>
Oh and also a really interesting to add to the finish, look around for used wood, recycle wood from barns, old houses etc. Same of course can be done for the legs using old desks or tables !

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm old and I like stuff
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