DIY Board Game Table Top




Introduction: DIY Board Game Table Top

Once your board game collection reaches a certain size, you need to stop playing on the fold out card table or small, round oak table you got at an estate sale and start playing on a table meant for board games. I was looking for a table that could comfortably fit six players while at the same time wouldn't seem too big for two players. I also wanted a few bells and whistles:

Be made of wood

Neoprene play surface

LED lighting

Place for drinks

Place for cards

Finally, I wanted all of these bells and whistles without spending a thousand dollars or thousands of dollars. So that left me with one option, build it myself. Final cost was JUST under $300 ($297.46 to be exact). However, there were several things I did not have to buy, such as wood stain, screws, and sand paper.

Full disclosure, I am by no means a master craftsman. I have accumulated a few tools over the years and have built a few pieces of furniture out of wood. Enough to learn a thing or two and be dangerous. I also had to borrow a few tools that made the process go much smoother (Thanks Mike!!)

These plans are for a board game table top, to rest on top of that old oak table (or the legs of my dining room table like in the cover image of this instructable). Legs could also be added to fit this table top and make it a more permanent fixture, which may be in the future for this table top. Dimensions were slightly tweaked during the process which I will explain during the necessary steps. I hope this instrucable helps you toward building your own board game table.



  • 3D printer
  • Drill
  • Compound Miter Saw
  • Sander
  • Drill Press
  • Kreg Jig
  • Clamps
  • Nail Gun and compressor
  • Circular Saw
  • Wood Planer (again, Thanks Mike)
  • Table Saw (and this too, Thanks Mike)
  • Router

Purchased Materials


  • 2x4x8 quantity of 4
  • 2x6x8 quantity of 3
  • 1x6x8 quantity of 1
  • 1x6x6 quantity of 2
  • 3/4" round trim 8' length quantity of 3

Non-Wood Material

  • 50" aluminum rail quantity of 2 (cup holder rail)
  • 30" aluminum rail quantity of 2 (cup holder rail)
  • Laminate wood floor (table surface)
  • LED tape lighting
  • LED Corner Channel
  • Neoprene Fabric (2 yards)

Step 1: Planning

This was my first piece of furniture I made that I did not have some type of Ana White plan to use as a rough guide, so planning was key. I first did many sketches and played with several designs and table top sizes. Once I had a general idea in place, I put those ideas into Revit (an Autodesk 3D design software). From there I was able to create the steps and plans that helped me through the building process.

Step 2: Preparing and Building the Side Rails

The firs section I built where the side rails. With running the wood for the side rails (2x6) through the wood planer, I knew this would slightly impact the size of the wood for the base support.

First I ran the wood through the planer. If you have never used one of these, it really makes life easier during construction. Especially if you are working with basic (cheap) pine wood that is not square.

After I planed the four sides, I ran the 2x6 through the table saw and ripped the 6" side (5-1/2") down to an actual dimension of 4-1/2".

Next, I made miter cuts with the miter saw at the lengths indicated on the plan view.

Next, I used a counter sink bit to predrill holes for 2-1/2" #8 wood screws at the corners.

Finally, I screwed the four sides together.

Step 3: Building the Base

After the side rails were constructed, measurements were taken to verify the dimensions of the 2x4s for the base. In running the side rails through the wood planer, the 2x4 dimensions increased slightly (1/16" to 1/8").

First the 2x4 wood was cut down as indicated in the dimensioned plan view (again, + 1/16" to 1/8" as needed). Then the wood was dry-fit in the constructed side rails to ensure there was a good fit

Next, a kreg jig was used at a 1-1/2" setting to place pocket holes as indicated in the plan view for attaching the base pieces together and attaching the base to the side rail.

Finally, the base pieces were screwed together using 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.

Step 4: Trace Out Playing Surface and Neoprene

The next step was to get the 'table surface' and neoprene fabric to the correct size. Similar to the base, the size needed for the table surface and neoprene had to be verified since the side rails were ran through the wood planer, slightly impacting the sizes indicated in the plan view.

Also, laminate wood flooring was used for a cost reason. A pack of laminate wood flooring was less then half the cost of a sheet of OSB board. Also, the look is much better!

First, I put the laminate wood flooring together. Simple tongue and groove flooring.

Then, the side rails were placed on top of the wood flooring and traced to get an accurate size. This was also done for the neoprene fabric (not pictured)

The flooring and neoprene were then cut down to size.

Step 5: Building the Top Rail

Building the top rail was the next step

First, I took the 1x6 pieces of wood for the top rail and ripped down the 6" width (5-1/2") to an actual 4-1/2" width using the table saw.

Next, the table saw blade was lowered to only cut roughly 3/8" into the top rail about 1/2" from the inner side. This relief cut will be for holding cards in the top rail.

The top rails were then cut down to size indicated in the plan view and used miter cuts for joining.

A kreg jig was used at the mitered ends with a 1/2" setting for putting the top rail together.

The top rail was put together using 1" pocket hole screws.

Step 6: Staining Future Hard to Reach Areas

Once the base is attached to the side rails, and the top rail is attached to the side rail, there will be portions of the side rail and top rail that will be hard to reach for staining and protective coats (polyurethane). I placed two coats of statin and one coat of polyurethane on the inside of the side rail, and the bottom side of the top rail.

Step 7: Attach Base to Side Rail

For the next step, I first glued the laminate flooring to the base.

After that, I fit the side rails over the base and attached the base to the side rails using 2-1/2" pocket screws in the previously drilled pocket holes from step 3. The bottom of the base was flush with the bottom of the side rail.

Step 8: Attach LED Channel and LED Tape Lighting

Next came adding the LED channel and LED tape lighting. I went with an angle channel with a frosted lens to angle the LED light down toward the playing surface and to diffuse the LED light.

First I cut down two lengths of the led channel.

Next, I placed the mounting hardware that came with the LED channel to the inside surface of the side rail.

Next, I attached the LED channel.

This was about the time I realized that I never made a way for the LED tape light to get out of the table. I had to cut a small notch out of the corner to get the tape out (slightly scratching the inner side wall).

Once I resolved this matter, I attached the LED tape lighting (which had a peel and stick backing) to the LED channel

Step 9: Attach Quarter Round

Next I cut down the 3/4" quart round and attached it to the side rail, flush with the top, with wood glue and nail gun. I used miter cuts at the corners.

Step 10: Router and Attach the Top Rail

For the top rail, I used a 1/2" router around the edges. To do this I used wood clamps to hold the top rail in place while using the router.

Next, I attached the top rail to the side rail to the side rail. With the wood clamps still holding the top rail in place, I pre-drilled holes in the top rail with a counter sink bit.

I then used 2-1/2" #8 wood screws to attach the top rail to the side rail.

Finally I used a 5/16" dowel rod to plug the counter sink holes.

Step 11: Sanding, Staining, and Finishing

After some sanding, sanding, and a little more sanding, the table top was ready stain. I used two layers of wood stain.

After the two layers of stain, I used polyurethane to provide a protective coat. I used two layers of polyurethane applied with a foam brush.

My original intention was to stain inside the card holding channel on the top rail. The stain would not easily go down into the channel. However, after the stain was applied I liked the look of the two different wood tones better. To quote Bob Ross, "There are no mistakes, just happy accidents"

Step 12: Attach Aluminum Cup Rails

I had aluminum rails made from 80/20 LLC to the dimensions needed for this table. I used a drill press to pre-drill holes through the aluminum rail. I then used 1-1/4" #8 wood screws to attach the aluminum rails to the side rail.

From 80/20 LLC, I received the 3D file for the roll-in bracket that goes with this aluminum rail. With this 3D file and my 3D printer, I was able to print the roll-in bracket. Along with a cup holder made with the 3D printer and a spare piece of 1x1 wood, I made a cup holder that will be able to be placed anywhere along the cup rails. This will give people somewhere to place their drinks while keeping the drinks off of the play surface.

Step 13: Place on the Neoprene Mat and Enjoy

Finally, I laid out the pre cut neoprene mat on the table top surface. Time to enjoy!

I hope this instructable helps you create a game table that you too can enjoy.

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    23 days ago

    This looks absolutely amazing! Only thing I would add, would maybe be some dicetrays so you could use it dor D&D, but thats just details. Incredible job!


    26 days ago

    The built-in card holder slot is ingenious. A hands free way to enjoy your refreshments or answer the door. No more cramped hands when playing with more than one deck of cards. I hope you get years of fun from your project.


    27 days ago

    The rails + drink holders are such a good idea :)


    Reply 26 days ago

    Thank you! Wanted to keep drinks off the rail/table surface. No one likes spilled drinks on the table :)