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The table version of shuffleboard is a great game to play, something you can play with several players, with friends and family, and more. That said, if you are a true handyman, something you may consider doing is building your own shuffleboard table. It is quite the process, but it is doable.
Let’s find out how to build a shuffleboard table right here and now.
Should You Build Your Own Shuffleboard Table?
Quite honestly, if you only want a smaller shuffleboard table, you aren’t an overly experienced carpenter, and you don’t have a litany of saws and tools, you may just want to buy one. A shuffleboard table needs to be extremely well built, and if you don’t have the necessary skills, you might end up with something crooked that doesn’t function. That said, if you are confident in your abilities, there is no reason why you can’t build one on your own.
In terms of cost, if you buy good materials, which is highly recommended, you can end up saving a bit of money by building one, or the cost could be about even. It really depends on the wood that you purchase for this task.
How to Build a Shuffleboard Table
Building your own shuffleboard is going to take some time and quite a bit of effort, so let’s not waste any time and get right to it.
Step 1: Figure Out the Size of the Table
Shuffleboard tables come in many different sizes. They can range in length from 9’ all the way to 22’, which is of course quite large. Yes, larger tables do tend to produce more action and be more fun to play on, but they also take up more space.
You can’t fit a 16’ shuffleboard into a 14’ room. So, consider the space that you want the shuffleboard to be in, and then decide on an appropriate size. We recommend making it as large as you possibly can without running into space issues.
Keep in mind that you will need about 2’ extra on each side to actually play on the shuffleboard, plus the dimensions of the board will also determine the dimensions of the bed, the legs, and more. Once you have chosen a size, move onto the next step.
Step 2: Find or Make a Plan
This is not something that you want to wing, so you do want to plan everything out down to the smallest detail. In other words, you need a plan, blueprints for your shuffleboard table. Yes, if you are more or less a carpenter and architect, you can make your own plans, but remember, you need to figure out the dimensions of every piece that goes into making a shuffleboard table.
Realistically, you are better off finding some ready-to-go blueprints online. There are plenty of them, and using these is much easier because it takes the hard work out of the planning process.
Step 3: Choose the Right Wood
Now you need to choose the main material, the wood that you will be making the shuffleboard table out of. Some of the prime options include maple, oak, bamboo, mahogany, and plywood.
Maple, oak, and mahogany are all tough as nails, so they are the best materials to use if you plan on building durable and long-lasting shuffleboard, plus they also look the best.
However, if you are building a large table and need lots of wood, the high prices of those wood types might be out of your budget. If this is the case, bamboo is your next best bet, and plywood is something to consider after that. Both of these, if properly sealed and treated, can be almost as good as those hardwoods.
Step 4: Cut Boards for the Sides
Now it is time to start making the rectangular box that will form the walls of the shuffleboard table. Get your wood, make the appropriate measurements for all four sides, use a pencil or other writing utensil to mark your boards, and then cut them.
A circular saw, table saw, or even a jigsaw will all work. Remember that if you are using new lumber, you may also need to use a planer and jointer to even things out. Use a T-square to ensure that all corners and edges are perfect, plane and joint all four pieces of wood, and then cut them down to size. You will also want to do some sanding to remove any roughness.
Also remember that you will need a few inches on each side for the gutters, so the box needs to be a bit bigger than the playing surface will be.
Step 5: Assemble the Walls and Attach Supports
Set up the four walls of the box so that the two end pieces are inside of the edges of the two side pieces, thus forming a rectangular box with flush sides. Use a drill and the appropriate size screws to form the box. If using softer wood, predrill the screw hole first to prevent cracking.
The shuffleboard table is going to be quite long, so to prevent it from bending, you will need to add supports along the length. Cut strips of boards as wide as the interior of the table, and screw them into the walls of the box at about 1’ apart along the length (the boards need to be perpendicular to the length and right on the bottom of the box).
Step 6: Work on the Underside of the Table Surface
Now you need to get some plywood (or other boards if you aren’t using plywood for the surface), and measure them out to form the surface or actual table of the shuffleboard table.
Use mending plates to attach the various pieces of plywood (if not using one large piece), pre-drill holes through the plywood (or other wood) and the supports you added in the previous step, and then screw the surface into the supports.
Now it is time to attach the carpeting. Make sure to purchase carpeting specially designed for shuffleboard use. Cut the carpet down to size, so that you can cover the bottom of the box, as well as the interior walls.
Use a good staple gun to staple the carpet down into the wood. Make sure to use measuring utensils and a sharp knife when doing this, so that the carpet is straight and even.
Step 7: Cut and Attach the Legs
Get four pieces of wood, make the appropriate measurements and markings, and use your saw to cut the legs. If your table is very long, over 16’ let’s say, you will need a pair of legs in the middle of the table for added support. What style of legs you choose is up to you, whether two thin legs or one thick leg.
You don’t want to attach the legs directly to the box. Instead, get a piece of wood that is the same size as the underside of the box, and screw the legs into that wood. After the legs have been attached to the separate boards, put the box onto the legs/boards, and use a drill and screws to attach the legs to the box. You should now have a carpeted box with legs that can stand on its own.
Step 8: Make and Attach the Playing Surface
To put your table surface into the box, you will need to attach rails to the top of the box. Get some decent rails, pre-drill holes, and attach them from the bottom using nuts and bolts.
Now, whatever wood you are using for the surface, make sure that it is 100% flat, even, level, and free of imperfections. It pays to buy quality wood for this, although a sander, jointer, and planer will work on imperfect wood. Make sure to use a level to check for evenness.
If you have to use multiple pieces of wood to form the length of the play surface, use a biscuit joiner with biscuits and wood glue to form one long piece. Reinforce all joints from the bottom using small pieces of wood and screws. You need to reinforce those seams under the biscuit joints.
You can now prepare the surface by painting or sanding it, and you can then draw or paint the actual game board onto the surface. Once the paint is dry, seal it with a waterproof sealant to make sure that the paint does not rub off.
Now you can wax the surface and spray it with silicone so it glides smoothly. Finally, take the surface, lay it onto the rails in the box, and secure it down with screws, nuts, and bolts, while ensuring that you leave some room on each side for the gutters.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Let’s quickly go over some important tips to help you produce the best results when making a DIY shuffleboard table:
- Always measure twice and use the appropriate measuring tools, such as a T-Square. Shuffleboards need to be 100% flat and smooth. Even the smallest mistakes can lead to a shuffleboard table that just doesn’t work.
- We strongly recommend using real hardwood for this task. It will last much longer and require less maintenance over time, compared to using something like cheap plywood.
- You will need a few power tools and saws for this task, so always wear the required safety gear and follow all safety procedures for whatever tools you are using.
As you can see, making your own shuffleboard table is very doable, but it does require both time and skill, so be patient, measure twice and cut once, and make sure that everything lines up properly.
The quality of gameplay will depend on the quality of the table itself.