Poker Table

Tips for Building a Poker Table

About the Project

Poker and game tables come in so many different shapes and sizes (from a 4’ round tables with folding legs to 8’ oval tables with a clawfoot pedestal base). This can take your game room to the next level and make your house the place to play.

Common Questions When Building a Poker Table

Building these tables is more advanced than other furniture projects, depending on the intricacy of the table. One the first things you should be asking yourself is: do I care what the bottom of the table looks like? The answer to this is up to you. I built a table that had a top that flipped completely over to serve as a dining room table as well. In this case, not only did the bottom have to look finished but I couldn’t have any nails or bolts showing. It’s all about the preparation and planning for the build.

1.                  How do I secure the padded rail to the poker table?

There are a number of different ways to do this, but the most basic is to screw it from underneath. You just have to make sure you aren’t
using screws that are too long. Again, you need to think through the process. Based on the thickness of the table, thickness of the wood for the rail and the excess material of the rail cover that’s between the rail and the table (may 1/8”), how long should the screw be.

If you are looking for a clean look you can use a flat connecting screw or a decorative connector bolt threaded into an insert nut screw (or something similar)

2.                  How do I get lumps out of my poker table railing?

The lump come from not stretching the vinyl on the railing consistently all the way around. To get rid of these you’ll have to pull some staples and either pull it tighter or let some of the stretch out. The key is to use consistent pressure all the way around to decrease the likelihood of the issue.


3.                  What type of material should I use for the playing surface?

One of the most popular is called speed cloth. It’s designed to allow cards to glide across the surface without issue. It comes in all different patterns and colors also. I recommend staying about from moleskins and velvet as the ease of dealing cards may be dependent on the direction of the grain on the surface.

4.                  What can I cover the edges of my plywood poker table with?

Using plywood is very common for these tables but the bad thing is the unfinished plywood edge. To hide this use edge banding. Its very easily
applied by using an iron and then trimming any extra overhang. I like to take it a step further and use decorative nails all the way around.


5.                  How do I evenly space decorative nails around a poker table?

For a circular table you start by finding the circumference. For a 5’ round table the radius is 2.5’, which means the circumference is 15.71’
or 188.5”. If you spaced them 3.25” apart on-center, you would need 58 nails. If you had a 4’ table the circumference would be 150.8”. With a spacing of 3.5” apart on-center you would need 43 nails.

6.                  How do I determine the nail spacing around a poker table?

There’s probably a scientific way of doing it but I start by figuring out what distance I’m generally looking for, whether it’s 2” apart or 5”. In this example we’ll use the numbers above 3” for rough spacing on a circumference of 188.5”. From here I divide the circumference by the rough spacing (3”) which gives me 62.83. This is the number of spaces between nails. You want the number to be as close to a whole number as possible (ie. no decimals). At this point I just start dividing the circumference using different measurements to see which gets me closest to the whole number: 3.125 (3 1/8”),  3.25 (3 1/4”), 3.5 (3 1/2″), 3.625 (3 5/8”), 3.75 (3 3/4”), 3.875 (3 7/8”). In this case 3.25 gets me spot on. The reason you want to get close to a whole number is because you’ll end up having a space at the end that’s either bigger than the rest or smaller.  A slight variation is normal and won’t be noticeable but a 1” difference will be. 


The process is relatively the same for an oval table. If you think about it the oval table is really just a circle cut in half and placed on the ends of a rectangle. That being the case you can figure out the circumference and then add the two sides to the total. In this case, if you were using a full 4×8’ piece of plywood the total edge space be the circumference (π x diameter) + the two sides (4+4), which equals 20.57’ or 246.84”.

Tips When Building a Poker Table

1.                    Use more staples than you think you need when securing the railing vinyl. It sucks pulling off a railing to fix a popped staple.

2.                  Use a kitchen carving knife to the railing padding. It makes very light work of the job.

3.                  Before covering the railing with vinyl, use spray glue and cover the seams on the padding with a dryer sheet…yes, a dryer
sheet. It’s thin enough you won’t notice it but it does the job to keep the padding together.  Sometimes the padding will separate and you can feel it underneath the vinyl covering when you lean on it.

4.                  Do you plan to have a track around the table between the railing and the playing surface? If so, an you want it relatively level then you’ll need to thinner piece of plywood for the middle playing surface…assuming you are using padding underneath the playing surface cloth.

5.                  Use padding under the playing surface. It makes it easier to pick up your cards, keeps chips from bouncing around too much, and makes for a better feel.

6.                  Using a routing and a template guide makes for perfectly shaped circles and half circles. Jigsaws can be useful but aren’t great with the detail work.

7.                  Make a template using a piece of cardboard to space your decorative. There’s nothing worse that measuring 66 times going around a table.

8.                  If you install cupholders, do your research.  I bought brass ones years ago and they showed every fingerprint and smudge that eventually looked more like a gray color.

Identify Tools Needed to Build a Poker Table

Below are tools that are either critical to the job or that I would highly recommend to make your life easier. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending an extra 2 hours of time with inadequate tools just to save $40 by not buying what you need.

I am not the seller of these products, however, I have used these or similar tools in my projects.

Critical Tools

Recommended Tools

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