A total beginner asking questions about a homemade project

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Forum topic by applecat144 posted 04-08-2019 01:58 PM 1043 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 191 days

04-08-2019 01:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner neophyte table advices advice

Hello there,

Who are you ?

I’m Paul, a 25 years old delivery biker living in France, it’s my first time posting here or on any woodworking related forum. Actually, I’ve almost never done any woodworking at all, besides helping my mother to cut a shelf or very basic things like that.

Why did you sign up and why are you posting ?

I have a bunch of friends with whome I play table games, some more comlex than others, and the table we’re using doesn’t really suit us. It’s a bit short and the tabletop isn’t actually attached to the feets and keeps sliding everytime someone leans or push on it. So we thought, “why not build our own table to finally get rid of this one ?”

At this point you’re probably wondering why we wouldn’t just buy an other table. The main reason is that we had this idea of building our own table and we loved it. I’ve also been intrested in woodworking for a while, but always shied away. This is a good occasion to try. We’d also like to have some shelfs, drawers and other features that would be awsomely practical, but it’s hard to find something that would really suit our needs for a reasonnable price. Ultimatly, when you want something specific you’re better off doing it yourself if you can’t afford a pro to make it for you.

What do you want to know ?

First thing I’d like to know is how hard can it be ? From my perspective, building a table seems rather simple, but assuming that I have 0 knowledge in woodworking I suppose that there are basic difficulties and issues that I can’t forsee. Add this to the fact that we’d like something clean and kinda “customized”, and I’m sure it’s much more difficult than it would seem at first glance. Question is, is it doable for a team of neophytes ?

I know it’s probably hard to tell since you don’t know exaclty what we want to build, but if you could give me an idea of how hard it is to build a good, upright, solid table that would already be good.

11 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


3934 posts in 1894 days

#1 posted 04-08-2019 02:57 PM

It is not hard but you will need the proper tools and you will have to learn some new skills and techniques along the way. My suggestion is to find some plans that match what you are looking for that are detailed enough for a beginner or novice to complete, including instructions. You may be able to find one by just searching google images. A good place to start may be Woodsmith magazine plans. Their plans are usually easy enough to follow for novices and even beginners. You may also find a suitable example in their magazine issues that you can search here. Sometimes, WS offers plans from the magazine in their individual plans but if not, you may have to buy the entire back issue digital library to get an individual issue. If you are interested in learning and doing more woodworking, you will find this is a great source for learning woodworking.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


499 posts in 286 days

#2 posted 04-08-2019 03:11 PM

A table can be built with nothing more than a hand saw, chisels, square, mallet, drill and bits, dowels and lumber. Four clamps would be useful, but not essential as you can improvise.

Just because we have the tools, don’t mean we need them all. A classic table is four legs with just an apron mortised into them that forms a foundation for the top to rest on. Making it is not that difficult. Making it square and true and aesthetically pleasing takes some work. Start by making something…make the table.

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4084 days

#3 posted 04-08-2019 03:18 PM

Welcome to Ljs
As Nathan said, it takes a certain amount of tools and equipment to make things in woodworking along with the knowledge of how to use those tools safely. I agree that Woodsmith is a good source but you might take a look on YouTube and search there to see how people make things in woodworking, all said and done your best bet is to find a mentor or class or woodworking club to help you with the hands-on. work you would need to do to build your project.

View LittleShaver's profile


582 posts in 1126 days

#4 posted 04-08-2019 03:50 PM

I often go to furniture stores for ideas. Find something close, take some measurements and lots of pictures. Commercial furniture is stripped down to the bare essentials to make it quick and profitable. There may be some lessons there for a beginner.

Welcome to LJs. Great group of people here with lots of great advice and experience.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Madmark2's profile


509 posts in 1095 days

#5 posted 04-08-2019 04:07 PM

2×4’s and precut plywood with a handsaw and power drill lets you make lots of stuff cheap. Cutting a pine 2×4 with a sharp hand (crosecut) saw only takes a minute. Buy 2-3/4” (6,5 cm) screws.

As your skills improve buy as you need. If you never make anything else other than the table you’re only out the cost of the handsaw – everybody needs a power drill.


View SMP's profile


1391 posts in 412 days

#6 posted 04-08-2019 04:33 PM

Necessity may be the “mother of invention”, but it is also the way people learn new skills as well. I started woodworking 30 years ago when I needed a custom fish tank stand but couldn’t even afford a basic one. I used my dad’s cheap circular saw with a dull blade, hammer, nails and old electric screwdriver and had Home Depot cut a sheet of plywood for me to the sizes I needed. A couple days later I had my fish tank stand and felt proud. Everyone was a beginner once, welcome!

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1885 posts in 2001 days

#7 posted 04-08-2019 04:55 PM


Good suggestions so far on wood working.

Want to comment on your project:
Building a ‘game’ table is very different than building a regular dining or coffee table that a normal wood worker would build. Building game tables for board games is relatively new phenomenon in wood working.
Many folks might not even know what a game table looks like:

Board game tables for home use didn’t become popular until very recently, so finding plans can be challenge. When I was looking for plans, so many of the WWW links are dead/gone. Besides the embedded links on the above board game site for building tables; there are a couple folks who give/sell plans for game table. Before I share links, will warn you: stay away from TED’s wood working plans. It is a total scam, where he sells you plans he found on internet for free.

Here are some threads from right here on LJ with board game table information:
If you search for board game tables, you can find even more. ;-)

Here are some external sites with actual step by step instructions, and/or plans:

You asked:

First thing I d like to know is how hard can it be ?
- applecat144

Challenge with board game table depends on how many features you want to include. Simple game table with playing surface and arm rests is easy. If you want to add drawers, cup holders, slide outs, book rests, etc; it can get very complicated, very quickly.

My only suggestion is this:
Make a prioritized list of features. Look at above sites/plans showing techniques required to make these features. If you and your team are capable of the work, then make entire list. If not, start the project with skills you understand and make a simpler table. If the initial experience goes well, you will learn/understand how to make improvements to your table as you learn and become more proficient with working wood.

Wood working is a life skill and/or a passion. Like all life skills, you can spend entire lifetime learning how to become master of it. So keep your project within your skill level, and you will be much happier doing the work. If you attempt most difficult tasks, it might add months your to build time, and increase project costs due wasted materials to point where you just give up. Working wood is fun as long as you understand you are taking a journey.

Best Luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View LesB's profile


2201 posts in 3950 days

#8 posted 04-08-2019 05:09 PM

I would suggest you look for an amateur wood working club or group near you and approach them about getting help. Most wood workers love to help new people and they will have the tools you need and sources for the materials.

Good luck.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Aj2's profile


2480 posts in 2305 days

#9 posted 04-08-2019 05:37 PM

What a strange question to ask a bunch of strangers on the other side of the planet.
Applecat have you been drinking ? Wine perhaps :)

-- Aj

View Andybb's profile


2093 posts in 1110 days

#10 posted 04-08-2019 05:51 PM

Warhammer?? I’m building a portable table for my son and his friends similar to this one. They want something they can fold up and transport.

Never realized there was such a resurgence in board games and they aren’t for kids. My son is an attorney and his Warhammer group is all attorneys from his firm. They even play against other firms.

Welcome to lj.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View applecat144's profile


2 posts in 191 days

#11 posted 04-09-2019 01:53 PM

Thank you all for the answers, it helps a lot. I’ll look up at plans you suggested, this will have the benefits of letting me know what plans look like in the first place.

First off, about the tools we have a cheap solution as we’re lucky enough have a local store renting tools for very cheap. We’ll figure out what we need and if it requires some specialized tools we’ll get them from there.

Anyway I’m happy that building a simple table isn’t that hard. We’ll see what we can do and what we can afford.

@CaptainKlutz that’s more or less the way we wanted to proceed. I think the main thing we want is some shelfs or drawers to keep players asset without putting them directly on the table. A lot of board games require a large enough surface, so having a separate area to store pawns, cards, personal boards or whatever has the double advantage to make room for the game itself, and to make it easier for everyone to keep his eyes off other player’s stuff. If we can afford to make some fancy stuff we’ll of course do it :D

@LesB we’re already trying to find some help in our area. Didn’t find anything for now but we’re not in a hurry :)

@Aj2 if it’s about my English I apologize, I do my best to make it understandable but I’m never sure about what I’m writing. Also, French people don’t drink as much wine as they used to. Still drink some tho :)

@Andybb one of us plays Warhammer so we want to make the table big enough for this game, also what we play together are essentially board games and card games such as Risk, Iron Throne, Eleusis etc. We also have some role playing games but that doesn’t involve any fancy table.

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