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My friend and I are endeavoring to create our own gaming table. With little to no experience working with wood other than youtube videos and the occasional side project, we come to you in need of help! Here you can see my schematic.

my drawing

The features it includes are:

  • 2 ft slotted shelf
  • 2 1.5ft drawers
  • shelving units below
  • removable 4x6ft felt piece

I have the following questions regarding the project:

  1. For the shelving units below the table surface, how do I connect the shelves to the legs? Screws that are longer than 4" and some wood glue? Routing out a slot to shove that thing into?

  2. Do you see anything wrong with my initial draft?

  3. Are we in over our heads?!

  • How high are your chairs? 3' is pretty high for regular chairs. – brian Apr 12 '15 at 1:17
  • What kind of gaming? Is this going to be a poker table? – Jon Apr 12 '15 at 7:10
  • It looks like a board game and pen and paper RPG type. The panels on the left side would be overlays for miniatures or maps, like for Warhammer. – Daniel B. Apr 12 '15 at 16:15
  • And @brian Yeah, 28 1/2 inches is standard height for a desk top, maybe 30 for a dining table? I would go for 30, personally. – Daniel B. Apr 12 '15 at 16:17
  • Yes, this will be for standard board games, stuff like Risk and Warhammer alike. Somewhat multipurpose. – Scott James Walter Apr 13 '15 at 17:28
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Let me answer your questions in reverse order:

Are we in over our heads?!

No, you're not in over your heads. You can do this.

Do you see anything wrong with my initial draft?

At a glance only a few things concern me.

  1. How will you move this to where it needs to be once it's built, and will it ever need to be moved again? You may want the table to break down if it will ever need to go through a doorway, up or down steps, or to a different location. For example, if you use the pictured design for the leg shelves, I would make the shelves removable.
  2. I'm not familiar with game tables but where do people's legs go when they are sitting at the table? It seems like the shelves attached to the legs will be in the way all the way around the table, except for one person on each side whose legs will fit between the board game shelving and the other shelf. I presume the extendable shelf that slides out from the top of the table will give the people on that side some leg room, but it isn't clear that every side has an extendable tabletop.
  3. Consider what will happen if someone leans on the extendable shelf/tabletop. Will it break its wooden or metal drawer slides, or the slot that houses it? Could the shelf itself flex or break?

For the shelving units below the table surface, how do I connect the shelves to the legs? Screws that are longer than 4" and some wood glue? Routing out a slot to shove that thing into?

You can certainly route a dado to help register each shelf and create more glue surface. Wood glue will certainly strengthen the joints but you may want to either run the shelves' other legs all the way up to the table frame/apron, or make the shelf removable in case you need to move it at some point in the future. If you want the shelves to be removable, you probably don't want to glue them to the legs.

You can use long screws that go through the legs and into the end of the shelves but personally I would use a different type of fastening method, especially if the shelves are made from plywood or MDF. (Also keep in mind you'll need fairly deep countersink or you'll need longer than 4" screws if your legs are actually 4"x4" as shown in your diagram.)

Here are some of the alternatives I think you should consider for attaching the shelves to the legs:

  1. Dowels, simply clamping or strapping the parts together while the glue dries (if you plan on permanent attachment with glue)
  2. Drill pocket screw holes into the bottoms of the shelves and use pocket screws to fasten the shelves to the legs.
  3. Use knock-down fasteners like what you get when you buy a particle board or MDF piece of furniture from the store.
  4. Attach cleats to the sides of the legs, then fasten each shelf on top of a cleat. You can use screws, glue, nails dowels, or whatever attachment method you prefer.
  5. Use bed rail brackets (or similar hardware) to attach the shelves to the legs. enter image description here
  • Very true about the under-the-table problem, though it may be less of an issue because of the extending panels. Most likely this is being inspired by geekchichq.com/#category-furniture, they've been the "standard" gaming table for several years now. A few have one large shelf underneath, but it's low and open. – Daniel B. Apr 12 '15 at 16:25
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Let me preface this by saying that you should check out Sketchup, it's free :)

The overall table isn't bad, per se. I'm concerned about your shelf construction. If they're not detachable, they're going to be a weak point when you move the table.

I would make a few suggestions ... If it's possible, make the bottom one large shelf rather than splitting it into two pieces. If it is two pieces as it appears to be, then you might consider some options:

Add two more legs offset toward the center to act as support for the shelves. These could have ledges cut to rest shelves on, or hardware as rob recommended(I would use the hardware)

In this way you will be able to make each side of the table adjustable, and you can add in shelves as necessary.

You'll also need some support for your slotted shelves. The further in they go, the more support they'll have.

Below are two possibilities.
On the left, there are raised rails which push against the top of the frame and the shelf is extended further in.

On the right, the rails are offset, which allows them to be longer. both of these hinge on using the rail as a stop, to keep it from sliding out. If you want them to be able to slide out, attach the rails to the table rather than the shelves.

I would lean toward the left option since it would give more support to the rail. You will also want to reinforce the mouth of the slot, it's the fulcrum of "the lever", and will take the all of the downward pressure being applied.

Leave 1/16 inch above and on the sides of the shelf to allow for wood expanding. enter image description here

  • I'm sure more experienced carpenters have better suggestions for the sliding shelf rails, by all means fix me :) – Daniel B. Apr 12 '15 at 3:47

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