Monday, July 9, 2012

Evolution of the Hobby Tower Phase 2

Way back in November of last year I gave a snapshot of how I was getting along in transforming a small space above our garage into my personal "Hobby Tower". While the progress has been at times slow, I’m pleased to report that it’s nearly complete. A simple coat of paint on the walls and trim has really improved things dramatically. Also, the shelving units have been painted white and are now installed and are just waiting for the final trim. But the most exciting development is I’ve finished my gaming table! 

 Design Considerations
Before I could actually finalize the gaming table design I had to nail down exactly how it would be used and what I wanted out of the table.

Size - Since I exclusively play Warhammer Fantasy I knew the table had to be 6’ x 4’ minimum. But the room is long and narrow room which means fitting in a large table is difficult. While it would have been awesome to have a bigger table, I simply didn’t have the room to accommodate it.

Mobility – No matter where I put the table it would always be blocking one bookshelf or another. So to ensure I could always get to all my crap the table had to be easy to move around. Mobility also meant that when the table was not actively being played on I could move it 90 degrees and push it up against the book shelves.

Storage – Given the footprint that this table would be taking up the table had to be capable of storing as much stuff as possible underneath.

Ergonomics – I’ve spent the bulk of my gaming years hunched over a standard height table. So for my table I wanted a much higher table of around 40". I found this to be a comfortable gaming height whether standing or sitting on a bar stool.

Aesthetics – I don’t do half ass so this table had to look good when finished. The table would also need to be painted to match the rest of the furniture in the room.

No Lip - I need this table to function as a general purpose hobby and craft table when not being gamed on. That meant no raised edge around the outside of the table. Plus having the lip would have made the table slightly larger further digging into my precious space.

"Portability" – I actually have no plans to haul this table around. But I have to be able to disassemble the table into smaller pieces so that I could actually get the table up into the Hobby Tower.

With the design considerations in hand I hit the Internet for inspiration as I do for almost every project. After scouring the web for several months I ironically came back to a table design that I found a few years ago. The Ultimate Gaming Table from the Drunk Dwarves Website is a really simple table that with a few modifications checked off all the boxes on my list of design considerations. Essentially, the frame is made from 4 - 4" x 4" uprights connected by 8 - 2" x 6"s. I changed up the heights to better suit my needs. This included making the uprights 37" high making the overall table come in at just under 40" once the table top and casters were added. I also added a shelf along the bottom rail that perfectly held 16 totes. The only significant change I made was to forgo the modular table top and go with a solid table top instead. Here is the finished design.

4 – 4" x 4" x 37"
4 – 2" x 6" x 72"
4 – 2" x 6" x 45"
1 – 72" x 48" plywood (get a finish grade plywood for use as the table top)
1 – 72" x 48" plywood (used for bottom shelf so any type of plywood would do)
32 – 5/16" x 5 ½" carriage bolts
32 – 5/16" x 5 ½" nuts
64 – 5/16" x 5 ½" washers
10 – 1" wood screws (for securing tabletop)
4 - 125 lb casters
16 - 1/4" x 1 1/2" lag screws (for mounting the casters)

It turned out that the hardest material to find was the untreated 4" x 4" for the uprights. In the end I had to go to a lumber yard for the 4" x 4" and Lowes for everything else. While I didn’t pay specific attention to the costs the whole table went together for less than $200 including paint.

The table was assembled just like how it was outlined on the Drunk Dwarves Website. There are, however, a few tips that you may find useful. First is to use a template to mark the hole locations. Using a scribe I poked the locations of the holes in the wood using a pair of templates made from some foam core. Take your time and make sure that you get the holes lined up so that nothing intersects.
Next before screwing on the table top loosen the upper bolts. This will give you some play and make it easier to secure the table top even if your table is not perfectly square. Finally if you have to cut the 4"x4" with several passes of a saw (because you miter or circular saw is now deep enough) you may end up with a rough looking cut. If this is the case I would recommend recessing the top of the 4" x4" uprights by a ¼" so that the plywood is only in contact with the 2"x6" frame.
Finished Table (San Paint)


RJ_Payne said...

Looks amazing dude, got me seriously jealous! Definitely gonna try and build one in the future. My table at the moment is a 6x4' folding surface which I build last year. My company makes this really cool recycled sheet material called ColourTex which comes in a few colours but the yellow/green we make really works well as all purpose grass. It might not quite look as realistic as a proper flocked surface but for practicality and malleability it is second to none. The surface is smooth and slightly compressive so you can lean on it without fear. Anyway enough with the Sales pitch! have a look at my blog if I think there are a few pics up there showing the surface. If you would like a sheet of the material sent over to the US please just get in touch :)

Stevewren said...

Great looking table, and I like the room to. I have a nice spare room that could accomodate one, but the wife will not let me get rid of the bed!

RJ_Payne said...

Yeah I tried to tell my GF that we should sleep on the floor so I can play with my toys, needless to say I didn't sleep in the bed that night ;)

retroalias said...

Thanks for the kind words. The room used to have a guest bed, but in reality it was never usable since it was basically a stand for my previous gaming board. Eventually the wife The morale of the story is that sometimes patience is rewarded. :)

Once the room is complete I will have no more excuses to not tackle my painting projects. The pile of models has been growing for several months.

Ryan said...

Rob - what was the total cost to build including funds and time?

Very nice work - move into my house on the 31st and looking forward to transforming it!

retroalias said...

All told it was around $180 for the materials because I opted for better materials like larger diameter hardware, nicer piece of plywood for the top (instead of MDF or OSB)and the casters set me back $20. So you could do it for a lot less.

With my Dad's help we knocked it out on a Saturday afternoon. Once you get going it doesn't take long.

Congrats on the house. Take some pix of the transformation as I love seeing gaming rooms/hobby bunkers or whatever you're going to call it.

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