Kitchen + Dining
Build a Poker Table
BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects
Each leg pulls out easily for storage, but is held securely in place by carriage bolts and wing nuts. With the oak legs and heavy-duty construction, you can play the game without worrying about an untimely collapse – this is no flimsy, fold-down card table. The exterior components are made from oak, while the interior framework and tabletops are made from pine and birch plywood.
A removable top converts this conventional game table into a custom poker table.
How to Build a Poker Table
Make the Legs
The table legs are designed for heavy-duty support. They are tapered from the top to the bottom. Each leg is made from two 1´4 boards butted together. Start by cutting the leg fronts (F) and leg sides (G) to length from 1´4" oak. Before cutting the tapers on the leg fronts and leg sides, draw accurate cutting lines. First, designate a top and bottom to each workpiece. Mark a point on the bottoms of the leg fronts, 1⁄2" in from one long edge, then draw a mark 31⁄2" down from the tops of the leg fronts on the same long edge. Draw a cutting line connecting the two points on the leg fronts. The leg sides are more narrow than the leg fronts. To draw the cutting lines on the leg sides, mark a point on the bottom of each leg side, 11⁄4" in from one long edge. Measure and mark a point 31⁄2" down from the top and 3⁄4" in from the same long edge. Draw cutting lines connecting the two points on the leg sides. Use a circular saw with a straightedge guide to cut along the cutting lines. Support the leg fronts and leg sides with a piece of scrap plywood as you cut them to size. Edge guides made from scrap and stop blocks screwed down at the ends and sides of the workpieces keep the leg parts steady as you cut them. For the most accurate results, start the taper cuts at the bottom ends. Once the leg sides and leg fronts are cut to shape, butt the untapered edges of the leg sides against the leg fronts. With the leg fronts and leg sides flush, drill evenly spaced, counterbored pilot holes through the leg fronts. Fasten the parts with glue and #6´ 15⁄8" wood screws, driven through the leg fronts and into the leg sides. Fill all counterbored screw holes with 3⁄8"-dia. flat wood plugs. Sand the legs smooth.
Make the Apron
The apron is a frame that holds the legs securely at the corners and supports the tabletops. The apron is actually a frame within a frame, made from strong, solid oak on the outside with a less expensive pine liner and filler blocks. L-shaped gaps at the corners of the apron hold the legs, which are secured with carriage bolts and wing nuts. Start by cutting the apron sides (A) and apron ends (B) to size. Position the apron ends between the apron sides with the outside faces of the apron ends flush with the ends of the apron sides. Drill counterbored pilot holes and use glue and #6 ´ 15⁄8" wood screws to fasten the parts. Cut the liner sides (C) and liner ends (D) to size from 1´4" pine. Position the liner ends between the liner sides, making sure the edges are flush. Drill pilot holes, and fasten the liner ends between the liner sides with glue and #6 ´ 2" wood screws, driven through the liner and into the apron. Draw reference lines on the inside faces of the apron sides and apron ends, 31⁄2" in from each corner. Cut the filler blocks (E) to size, and fasten them between the reference lines, using glue and countersunk #6 ´ 11⁄4" wood screws. With the apron on a flat surface, set the liner assembly inside the apron (photo 2), and fasten the liner assembly to the filler blocks with glue and #6 ´ 2" wood screws.
Use a straightedge guide and scrap-plywood stop blocks when cutting leg tapers with a circular saw.
Position the liner assembly inside the apron assembly so it fits against filler blocks.
Hold the legs firmly, and drill 3⁄8"-diameter holes through the apron, legs, and liner for carriage bolts at all corners.
Cut a notch from the top of the leg fronts down to the carriage bolt hole to make it easier to remove and install legs.
Attach the Legs
The legs are inserted into the gaps at the corners of the frame and secured with carriage bolts. Start by sliding the wide ends of the legs into the gaps at each corner of the apron frame. They should fit snugly, with their tops flush with the apron top. Mark the outside faces of the apron sides for carriage-bolt holes. Center the holes 31⁄4" in from the apron side ends. With the legs held firmly in place, drill a 3⁄8"-dia. hole through the apron, legs, and liner at each corner. Remove the legs. At the top of the leg fronts, use a jigsaw to extend the holds all the way to the top of the leg fronts. These notches allow you to remove the legs for storage without having to remove the carriage bolts. Insert the legs, and push the carriage bolts through the holes. Slide washers on the bolts, and attach wing nuts to secure the legs in place. If one or two legs do not fit precisely, try switching them around – you may find a better fit.
Make the Main Top
The main top is used as a game table and as a base for the poker tabletop. Begin by cutting the main top (H), main cleats (I), and short cleats (O) to size. Sand the parts smooth, and apply self-adhesive birch veneer edge tape to all four edges of the main top. Trim and sand the excess edge tape. Draw reference lines on one face of the main top, 21⁄4" in from each edge. Center the main cleats and short cleats on the main top with their outside edges on the reference lines. Fasten the cleats, making sure the main cleats are on opposite sides. Test-fit the main top on the apron. If the main top doesn’t fit, realign the cleats. Fasten the main top to the liner by driving 21⁄2" countersunk screws through the main cleats and into the liner and filler blocks.
Make the Poker Top
The poker top is a large octagonal tabletop with ledges to hold poker ships. Cleats are attached on the bottom of the poker top so it can be centered over the main top. To cut the poker top (J) to size, start with a 48" square piece of plywood. Marking the octagonal cutting lines require a little basic geometry. First, draw reference lines between opposite corners, locating the center of the workpiece. Mark the centers of the edges on each of the four sides. Draw lines across the poker top, connecting opposing-edge centerpoints. Next, construct a homemade bar compass by drilling a centered screw hole at one end of a 1 ´ 2" piece of scrap. (The scrap piece must be at least 25" in length.) Drill another centered hole for a pencil, 24" up from the first hole. Drive a screw through the first hole and into the poker top centerpoint. Slip a pencil into the remaining hole, and rotate the bar compass to draw a 48"-dia. circle on the poker top. Using a straightedge, draw cutting lines connecting the points where the reference lines intersect with the circle. Cut along the pencil lines with a circular saw, and sand the poker top to smooth out any rough edges or saw marks. To cut the poker trim (N) to fit against the poker top sides, use a power miter box or a backsaw and miter box to cut a 221⁄2° outside bevel on one end of a poker trim piece. Note 221⁄2° is commonly marked on miter boxes, circular saws, and radial-arm saws. After cutting this bevel, position the poker trim against one edge of the poker top. Mark the trim where the next point contacts it, then cut another bevel that slants in the opposite direction from the bevel at the other end. Attach the trim piece to the poker top with glue and 11⁄4" brads, and continue cutting and measuring the poker trim to fit the table. Fill all the brad holes with wood putty and sand the edges smooth when dry.
Fasten the main top to the liner by driving screws through the main cleats and short cleats and into the liner and filler blocks.
Carefully draw the cutting lines for the poker top, using a straightedge and a homemade bar compass.
Mark the trim pieces to fit the edges of the poker table, and cut them to length with a 221⁄2° bevel.
Fasten the poker cleats to the underside of the poker table, 161⁄8" from the center of the table.
Attach the Trays
Trays are attached to each edge of the octagonal poker top to hold poker chips. Cut the trays and tray trim (M) to size. In order for the trays to fit on the underside of the poker top, the inside corners on one long edge on each tray are trimmed off at a 45° angle. Draw cutting lines at each end of one long edge, forming a triangle with 2"-long sides, and use a power miter box or a circular saw to cut the corners. Use glue and 11⁄4" brads to fasten the tray trim to the square long edge of each tray so the bottoms are flush. Turn the poker top upside down. Use glue and #6 ´ 11⁄4" wood screws to fasten the trays to the poker top at each straight edge. The trays should extend 31⁄2" beyond the poker top edges, so use a piece of 1 ´ 4 as a spacer between the tray trim and the poker top edges as you fit the pieces together. Cut the poker cleats (K) to size, and position them on the poker top centerlines. (The poker cleats hold the poker top in place while it sits on the main top.) Center the poker cleats on the lines, and make sure their inside edges are 161⁄8" in from the center of the table. Fasten the poker cleats with glue and #6´11⁄4" wood screws.
Apply Finishing Touches
Set all nail heads and fill all nail holes with untinted, stainable wood putty. Glue 3⁄8"-dia. oak plugs into all screw counterbores, then sand to level. Finish-sand all surfaces, and apply your finish of choice. We used three coats of tung oil.