Urushi Poker Table

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Project by Falegname posted 08-17-2010 05:27 AM 27646 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A couple of months ago I was at a garage sale and found an old water damaged poker table for 25 bucks. As it turns out is was quite old which meant it was made of actual solid wood instead of particle board or MDF. I had always wanted a poker table so I decided I would buy it, take it apart and see if I could restore it to it’s former glory.


Once I got it home I found that in addition to being left to the elements the playing surface was a cheap vinyl and the wood was really well worn. So I decided that instead of trying to make it look new again, I would try and make it look old.


I started by removing the legs which were held on by a few rusty screws.


I then removed the bottom board, but found that it was so full of rusty staples that I figured I should build another one from scratch. That way I could also use another material instead of the leather-look plastic sheets.


Next I dismantled the main structure. I was actually surprised at how it was put together. It looked like an interesting design but the screws were off and nothing lined up so it made the construction look quite shoddy and cheap. So much potential for improvement here! :)



I then went on holiday and visited a Japanese art gallery where I saw some Urushi lacquered objects. I had always been fascinated by Urushi but had never seen it so up close.

The most amazing part of Urushi is how it looks black until the right light hits in and then it lets out a slight metallic red reflection. Anyway, this motivated me to make the Urushi Poker Table. I thought the dark black/red look would be perfect for a poker table. If old school mobsters where playing a high stakes game back in the days when Las Vegas was for adults I figure they would play on something like this. :)

I knew from previous experience that getting my hands on real Urushi in Canada would not be an easy task so I decided I would try to replicate it. After reassembling the table structure (with construction adhesive and proper nails) I came up with a 3 step process to make my own “Urushi effect”.

My “Urushi effect” Process
1) I heavily stained the wood (I used a bright red Oak stain.)
2) I then sprayed on a light coat of bright red paint. Not too much as to block the wood grain, but just enough to see the colour.
3) Finally I sprayed on a coat of black paint (slowly) until I covered 99% of the red spray but didn’t obscure the wood grain.

I also sprayed on a couple coats of transparent satin lacquer just to make it more long lasting.

SideNote: If anyone can help me get real Urushi I would VERY much appreciate it.


I then rebuilt the bottom board and used a more luxurious vinyl that actually looked and felt like leather.


Then I had to recreate the playing field. Instead of using vinyl (which still would have been an improvement) I found some black casino grade wool that actually had some deep dark red woven into it… a perfect match.


Having never done any upholstery I’m not sure I did this properly buy I used spray adhesive to attach the wool to the board and then stapled it to the inside of the table structure.



I then attached the new backer board I built to the bottom.



Finally I reattached the legs with some proper screws and voila..


Ready for the big game. Who’s in this weekend?

-- Mark / Montreal - "Measure Once, Curse Twice."

5 comments so far

View Seeharlez's profile


83 posts in 3792 days

#1 posted 08-17-2010 05:47 AM

Very cool idea. Looks great. I made a poker table as well… check it out!

-- Greg - Vancouver, BC

View Ken90712's profile


17888 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 08-17-2010 11:05 AM

Great save on the table. Ck out the homemade one I have. I can still get the pedistals if you want to go that way but it takes away the folding it up and storing it. We have used mine for many poker night here. Looks great bro nice job!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View ZeroThreeQuarter's profile


120 posts in 3856 days

#3 posted 08-17-2010 05:42 PM

nicely done.. where abouts in Montreal you from?
and is that an actual Eames chair/stool in the background?

-- Your mind, much like a parachute, works best when open.

View Falegname's profile


33 posts in 3740 days

#4 posted 08-17-2010 06:32 PM

Hey 0 3/4, I am actually new to Montreal. I was born in Western Canada and lived in Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark. In the background there you see a Mr. Chair and ottoman plus an Eames ottoman. The actual Eames lounger is upstairs in front of the TV :)

-- Mark / Montreal - "Measure Once, Curse Twice."

View Falegname's profile


33 posts in 3740 days

#5 posted 08-18-2010 05:59 PM

Hey Skarp, yes, I had read that it was dangerous, which I guess is why it seemed so interesting. :) Your idea sounds interesting also. I will put it on the workshop todo list. Do you have any idea where I could find iron oxide and an acidic bath?

-- Mark / Montreal - "Measure Once, Curse Twice."

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