Russ' Workbench: Portable Gaming Table - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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  1. #1
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    Russ' Workbench: Portable Gaming Table

    Intro and Background

    Hey LO community! I've recently began designing and building a portable gaming table for my Warhammer 40k needs and felt I should give back a little to the community that's been so generous by writing up some design notes and a small tutorial on how I've built my table.

    First off, why a portable table? Well, for those of us unfortunate enough to not have a spare bedroom or basement, this already requires a table that can be deconstructed and stored so I felt that I might as well make it more portable as well. Having a table that can be transported with ease is going to allow me to take it to a friend's home so we can enjoy a good gaming experience no matter where we areÖeven at work!

    The second part of my agenda was to build the table with economics in mind. The table from Games Workshop is certainly portable, but the cost is nearly prohibitive. This is especially true when a similar table could be built for less than half the price. In my case, the material cost for the table I'll be outlining is nearly 1/5 the price! Of course, at this price AND making it portable meant a few fundamental differences between my table and the Games Workshop table.

    Portable Table Requirements
    1. The table must weight less than 25Lbs (~11Kg) so a single person can pick-up and move it without strain

    2. The table needs to fold into dimensions that will allow it to fit in the back seat or trunk of the average four-door sedan

    3. The table should transport as a single piece that can be picked up with one hand

    4. When transporting or storing, the playing surface should be well protected without need of additional padding

    5. The game table need not require an equivalent size table to support its frame size. This means that if I have a smaller table upon which Iím setting my game table, say 3x3 feet, that should still be sufficient to support the game table even if it hangs off. This is important because a table made from 2x2 foot squares pretty much requires another flat surface thatís 4x6 feet! That kind of defeats the point of portability in my opinion. Note: I prefer sitting and standing around a game table (placing on the floor is really a last resort option).

    6. The build time should be no longer than an 8 hour dayÖLife has the uncanny ability of getting in the way, so why give it the opportunity!

    7. Finally, the materials cost should be less than $75 (~52Lb in the current economy)
    Table design

    As typical of my common design process I began with some quick design sketch ideas of how I would layout a frame and compensate for the fact the table would need to fold smaller, yet protect its self. Because of all the table requirements Iíve outlined I quickly came to the decision that the game tableís surface would be 4x6 feet, keeping in line with my requirements by increasing portability, reducing weight, and reducing material costs.





    After spending 30 minutes or so throwing around designs on paper, I quickly moved into accurate 3D mock-ups on my computer to gauge material dimensions and to help visually discover flaws in my hazy paper doodle design. I think itís worth noting that I use a 3D application called Maya, common in game and visual effects development. Really you should use whatever tools you can work fast and most efficiently with, even if this means a pencil and ruler.



    Above was my initial design idea. It involved a table top that could be flipped over with a second paint scheme on the opposite side. The surface its self sat in a frame that would hold the two pieces together and double as a transport case. It only took me about 5 minutes to realize this would be both heavy and costly.

    Itís typical for me to begin with over thinking things! I quickly abandoned the idea of having a reversible surface, not only because of cost and weight, but Iím betting it would sag badly in the middle due to flexibility. Now that I had the excessive engineering out of my system, I used what I already laid out in 3D and applied the KISS rule (keep it simple, stupid).

    The new design uses a thinner frame of wood that has the same dimensions as the wood trim, itís not reversible, and it does not have an additional bulky frame to set in, just a raised trim to protect the edges and table surface when the two pieces are closed against one another.



    And here are a couple of pictures of one side of the completed portable table surface. I havenít put the trim around the outside yet because I want to finish texturing and painting the surface (another tutorial I hope to make). The table surface in the pictures is 4x3 feet.





    Each side of the completed table weights 9Lbs (4Kg) so Iím expecting the table to easily meet my weight requirements once textured, painted and after I install a few latches to close the table together.

    It always takes me a lot of time to gather my thoughts, so I'll be adding a complete list of materials with the cost I paid at my local DIY hardware store and a basic tutorial on how I went about building the portable table in a follow-up posting.

    Hope this helps give people ideas for their own 4x6 table,

    Russ


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  3. #2
    Dethskullz Warboss Morden's Avatar
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    Ah, very nice russ your table is coming alone nicely so far. I love how put the effort in giving us all a 3D version. I am really looking forward to seeing your finished table.

    I have made abit of the portable table myself. Without the cover similar to yours tho. This cost me around £20 mdf and A few nails. My trade skills aint that good so with help from my dad.


    You just lock the 3 parts of wood in the middle together and They hold the table really well together.

    Keep up the cool work. Remember pressure, pressure, pressure!.

  4. #3
    kut maar krachtig forumjayz's Avatar
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    That's on impressive design feature!! turnable and there for changable terrain underground is very cool keep up the good weok!

    Cheers CJ

    P.s. + Rep

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    Member Slim21's Avatar
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    I like your idea, how it folds and it is cheap to make.

  6. #5
    Scenery Shogun Shonuff's Avatar
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    Nice idea. I like it.
    i want to see it on legs with some scenery on it before I give my final grade.
    Sho: out.

    Rome wasn't built in a day, Either should good scenery.

  7. #6
    Wolf Lord JohnPublic's Avatar
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    With the current design your hinges will be on the surface of the table. I think that you want the bottom surfaces to fold together so that the hinges are not visible. My apologies if I'm mistaken.
    "A word to the wise is infuriating." - Hunter Thompson

    Projects: Warhammer 40k: Checkmate & JohnPublic's Board

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    Member R3con's Avatar
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    cant wait to see the finished project..........as I've been kicking around ideas myself
    For Michigan Apoc news and meetups.. www.mi40k.com

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shonuff View Post
    Nice idea. I like it.
    i want to see it on legs with some scenery on it before I give my final grade.

    Nice...pressure to produce, exactly what Morden understands I need! I've completed texturing the board and I'm almost done painting it so I really need to get moving on posting a summary of supplies and basic build tutorial since I'm well ahead of that. As far as terrain, I just found a local supplier of pink polystyrene foam in the CA bay area so I'm going to be picking that up to carve hills that will match the paint scheme. Do you know how hard it is to find insulation foam in the temperate bay area!?

    Anyways, I hadn't planned on adding legs to the mobile table, but that would really make it independent so I'll consider so long as it doesn't affect the weight and easy of transportation.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnPublic
    With the current design your hinges will be on the surface of the table. I think that you want the bottom surfaces to fold together so that the hinges are not visible. My apologies if I'm mistaken.
    Hey John, your correct, the hinges will need to be on the top. The reason I don't want the table to fold the other way is because with the trim it's designed to protect itself when folded without the need of wrapping each piece in bubble wrap and putting into another protective case like the GW one. This is something that I have realized but did not touch on in my inital design notes. Basically I have two ideas:

    1.) Although the animated picture showes the pieces "hinged" I might just leave them as two seperate pieces and perhaps attach them with a couple long bolts and nuts running through the frame's edges when open.

    2.) If I do hinge the pieces, the hinges will be exposed on the top, but only on the border trim (which is in my animated picture, but not added yet to the completed construction picture).

    In either case, I will be adding the trim that will allow the pieces to set on top of each other with the game surface facing inward. To care the pieces I will be adding latches (about 4-6) around the trim so that when you close the two pieces, independent or hinged, you can then just flip the latches to close them against each other like a briefcase. With the latches for transport it doesn't require that I hinge the two pieces to hold them together

    Another good thing about not adding hinges is that I could make a 2x4 foot "leaf" to add into the middle to extended the dimensions of the board to be a 4x8 table...just a thought. But I do need to think about how to secure the two pieces together when open.

    Once I get it painted I'll add the trim and start exploring the latches.


    Thanks everyone for your kind comments!

    Russ
    Last edited by russ_c; March 26th, 2009 at 20:51.

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    Go ahead and use hinges, just us a router to his them in the frame. I am getting ready to build a very similar table and i will take pics to make what i am saying easier to understand.

    I am debating leaving the top bare and making 1' X 1' inserts to sit on it so the table setup can vary. I like lava, roads, craters, trenches, and impassable terrain, but if it is in the same place every game it loses much of it's value.

  11. #10
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    Finally Done!

    Wow, after about a month and a half since my initial ideas I finally complete my table! Actually, I just can't believe I completed a project! It only took 6 total days to complete, but a small mistake that required a table saw to remedy and the discover that the rules/documentation of Battlefleet Gothic are free online extended the time this one spent on my workbench...

    The 6 days were broken down into 3 days for construction and 3 days for texturing and painting the surface and a lot of extraneous time running around looking for brass draw catches. Anyways, without further delay here are some pictures of the completed table. I promise this will be one of the only times I'll subject you to my scruff presence, but I wanted to show it's size and relative ease of lifting.




    As you can see the two sides of the table face inward and hold together like a briefcase using 6 brass draw latches around the outside of the trim (2 on each of the 3 trimed sides). It makes it one complete piece that is relatively easy for a single person to pick-up and transport. Really the only thing that makes it a bit cumbersome for one person is it's dimensions. Below are pictures of it setting on my outside work table.

    Here is a picture showing the "top side" of the trim or the short edges of each table half that have trim on them. This is the part I was holding it by in the above pictures. I had contemplated adding some type of handle, but the frame already provides a good recessed area to grip it with.



    Here is the table turned around so you can see the "bottom side" or the side that has no trim because it's the middle of the table when open. You can see how the raised trim separates the surfaces to keep them away from each other. For now I don't have much of a problem that there is a hole, but I imagine that I'll want to do something about covering it when the table is stored in this manner to help protect it from something falling into it or dust getting in.



    And finally, the table open with a detail shot of one of the corners for reference to color and texture. Surprisingly, when I took this picture this morning and it was the first time I'd seen the table together with the finished surfaces so it was very satisfying when I was taking the picture!




    A few after-thoughts:

    When I initially set out to build the table I listed a number of requirements I was hoping to achieve.

    1. The table must weight less than 25lbs (~11kg). In the end with all the paint, extra wood trim, nails, woodglue, sand, and brass it weights in at 27lbs (~12kg)! Close enough for me! That still makes it 3lbs lighter then the weight listed for GWs table unpainted.

    2. The table's dimensions must allow it to fit into a standard sedan. I tested the fit this morning in my humble Saturn and it fits nicely in the trunk at 49"x37" (124.5cmx94cm). It wouldn't fit into the backseat due to the angle that the doors open, but I could probably force it! If you can't put it in the car then it's not portable!

    3. The table should transport as a single piece that can be picked up with one hand. Demonstrated above!

    4. When transporting or storing, the playing surface should be well protected without need of additional padding. With the addition of the brass latches and pine trim this worked out nicely! Maybe I'll add a canvas sheet to the bottom opening?

    5. The table does not require an equivalent sized playing surface to set on since it's two large pieces and not a bunch of small pieces that require additional support. The only problem with this one is that when unlatched the two sides are not connected in anyway. I've chosen not to hinge them together for the time being. This does mean that they don't hold against one another if bumped. I imagine this will be a problem and intend to fix it by drilling 3 holes in the under frame that I can thread bolts through to hold the sides together. That should be easy enough to remove each time I close the table and simple to add.

    6. Build time. Okay I was a bit unrealistic with setting this to 8 hours, BUT that wasn't suppose to include the time to texture and paint. Now that I've completed one table I could probably build one in about 16 hours, but I'd think that's as fast as a single person could do it. I can't see speeding up the texturing and painting part that much unless I con a friend into helping!

    7. Budge was set to $75. This is were I'm really proud, because I was easily able to stay in the budget even with the extra cost of the brass draw latches! My total tab comes to $71.10! Maybe I'll take the other $4 and buy the wife something nice!

    All-in-all I achieved my goal's guidelines within reason so I'm very happy. Also, I took a lot of pictures as well during the build so I'll try and get something together that will fill the gap between the beginning and end.

    Now it's time to sculpt some matching hills!

    Russ

    ---------- Post added at 18:18 ---------- Previous post was at 18:12 ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya View Post
    Go ahead and use hinges, just us a router to his them in the frame. I am getting ready to build a very similar table and i will take pics to make what i am saying easier to understand.

    I am debating leaving the top bare and making 1' X 1' inserts to sit on it so the table setup can vary. I like lava, roads, craters, trenches, and impassable terrain, but if it is in the same place every game it loses much of it's value.
    I like the idea of routing a recessed area for the hinges. For now I'm hingeless so I might do this if I decide to add hinges. As for the 1x1 sections, The idea of a reconfigurable table is nice, but I really dislike how it adds a charted measuring grid to the boards surface. Seems like it defies the entire concept of guessing distances! Instead I've made a generic "canvas" on which I'll place separate hills and terrain that's not confined to a square region. I just feel it's more organic that way!

    If your building a similar table, please do share! By the way, I like your user name...if you haven't read the book Princess Bride then you should because it's 10x better than the movie and you get all the memories of the humor in the movie as you read it.

    Russ

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