I looked online for instructions on how to make a poker table and there's tons of plans but they were all quite complicated. I wanted something much simpler and so I created this 8 seater table from offcuts I had lying around at work (I'm a Design and Technology teacher, lucky I know).
It's a nice size for 8 adults, maybe a little tight when all 8 places are filled but definitely comfortable. Intimate perhaps but still comfortable. It doesn't have legs, it's intended to go ontop of another table and then be stored away between uses.
Step 1: Making the Player Positions
Part of what makes this table easy (and cheaper) is that has a a 1220x1220mm board as the starting point which comes out of a single MDF Board 18x1220x2440mm cut square.
I was lucky to have some beech veneered ply for my player positions, you're going to want something similar if you want the end product to look half way decent.
Cut these into 225x460mm panels that taper in so that one of the long edges is trimmed down to 270mm.
Step 2: Laying Out the Overall Shape
- Find the centre of your board and mark it with a pencil, then lay out the north, south, east and west positions so they line up with the centre of the board leaving 10mm between the pieces and the edges of the board to accommodate your trim.
- Then position the remaining four places in between these so that they are even and symmetrical.
- Use strips of wood the same thickness as your place boards in between leaving a gap at the end for the lighting.
- Panel pin everything into position taking care to put the nails as far into the corners as you can without splitting out the edges, this way the pins will be hidden by the dividers.
Step 3: Make the Dividers, Cut the Edging and Varnish Your Player Places.
I've missed a couple of photo opportunities here but you can see the end result and work back from there.
- Cut an 80mm wide strip of 25mm MDF into 8 x 250mm pieces and shape them as you like. I chamfered all the edges but you could just do the back corners to match the outline of the table.
- Here you can see the edging in place too, these can be a bit tricky to get the angles right, do the maths first and use an accurate angle guide with your saw or an adjustable mitre saw.
- Now is also the best time to varnish or sanding seal your player places so they can be drying while you work on the other stages.
Step 4: Add the Cloth
So it turns out that actual poker table felt is pretty expensive so I just used a hard wearing green cloth offcut that i like the shade of.
- Start by masking off everything but the inside of your table with newspaper and tape. Then roughly cut your cloth so that is just oversized for the space in the centre.
- Cover the MDF in a good layer of spray adhesive, strong stuff, not the repositionable stuff or you're likely to get bubbles as the table flexes while being moved.
- Carefully lay your cloth onto the table and smooth it into the corners with a plastic ruler or something similar.
- Using a cloth cutting tool such as the one shown in the photo or just a sharp craft knife trim away the excess cloth.
Step 5: Paint the Dividers (and Edging If Using)
- Seal your mdf with a mixture of PVA and water to minimize the amount of primer you'll need, MDF is like a sponge on the cut edges. Sand it down when dry and do it again, the more time invested on this early stage the better the final finish will be.
- Automotive filler primer is the best thing in my opinion for getting a good finish on decorative things like this when using MDF. Coat your dividers in as many layers of this as you can get out of the tin.
- I missed the spray painting stage with my photos but it's fairly self explanatory, I chose a piano black but it's really up to you, a matt finish will hide any imperfections a bit better, personal preference.
A (somewhat obvious) tip here is to tape some scrap pieces onto the bottoms of your dividers so they are raised above the surface while you paint, this way your paint will go under the edges a bit and you won't have to worry about it getting stuck to the surface it's lying on.
I also did my edging pieces in the same way and at the same time.
Step 6: Make the Light Diffusors
I used some opal acrylic for this but any clear plastic and a similarly sized piece of plane paper as a backing would have an equal effect.
- Cut small pieces of acrylic to match the spaces inbetween your dividers.
- Drill a hole large enough to accommodate what ever light source you plan to use in the centre of the cavity.
- Line the cavity with tin foil (reflective side) and double sided tape.
- Poke through the whole with a sharp pencil.
- Fix the acrylic in place with hotglue.
Step 7: Get to Work With a Black Marker
Use a decent black marker to colour round any areas that will show between your painted black pieces and the other pieces, it's a little detail but it goes a long way to making the final product look professional.
Step 8: Fix It All Together
- You may decide to just pain all surfaces of your dividers but I opted for some acrylic end caps into which I laser etched the card suits. I fixed these to the ends using hot glue. Rough up the back of them a bit to get a good bond or they will fall off eventually. (mine did this)
- Hot glue the dividers into place or if you're planning to move the table around a lot you should screw into them from the bottom of the table with an appropriate length screw. I added a small piece of foil to finish the reflective surface in the light cavity.
- Stick down your edging around the outside and inside of the table.
Step 9: Finished!
Note: Fitting the lighting is missing from the photographs but it's as simple as buying some LED's and soldering them in parallel. A quick cheat is to buy some cheap fairy lights.