Build Your Own Poker Tables - Upholstering
Adding the Poker Table Felt or Other Playing Surfaces
Now that you have all the wood cut its time to start upholstering and adding the poker table felt to the poker table top. We won't actually be using any felt, but its the term that most people use. This step is actually fairly easy and shouldn't take much time at all. The first thing that you need to do is fix the foam to the wood. To do this you will be using piece A, spray adhesive, and 1/4" high density foam.
1/4" foam is available in the shop.
The adhesive will become tacky if you spray it directly onto the foam. Once you have sprayed the foam all you need to do is lay the sheet of wood on top of it.(Figure 2-1) I then like to go ahead and sit right on the wood while the adhesive cures. This should only take a few minutes. After the adhesive is dry, go around the edges of the wood with a sharp knife and cut the excess foam away. If you dont plan to build any legs, and just set the poker table top on top of another table you may want to save the extra foam. The reason for this is that it works well to glue it to the bottom of the completed poker table top to protect the table that its sitting on. Remember that the foam does not have to be cemented to the wood. The adhesive is just used to keep the foam in place. It will be firmly held in place with the poker table felt or material that you choose to use for the actual playing surface
Once the foam is fixed and cut to size its time to start on your first piece of upholstering. You need to spread the material out, that you intend to use as your playing surface, with the good side of the material facing the floor. Then lay the poker table top down on top of the material with the foam side facing down.(Figure 2-2) This is where it starts to get a little tricky.
To upholster the poker table top what you need to do is fold the fabric over the wood on one side and put 3 or 4 staples in it. Do not pound these staples in all the way because you will be taking them out later on. These are only set as guide staples. Onec you have these in you should do the same at both ends of the table making sure to pull the material tight. Now you have 3 sides with guide staples in them and one side is free. Stand the poker table top up on its side so that the unstapled end is facing up and is accessable. Now you start in the middle and make sure to pull the fabric very tight. Add a staple every 3 inches or so and work your way around the table to both ends. Then you can turn the table over, remove the guide staples, and do the same thing from the other side. Once you make your way completely around the table you'll undoubtedly find places where it could be tighter or that has wrinkles. This is the reason that we're only putting staples every 3 inches. I recommend that you continue to go around the table and tighten and add staples until the material is smooth and very tight everywhere on the table. Now you should add staples so that there is at least one staple every inch. Once you've got all your staples in and you're happy with the finished product, it's time to go around and pound all the staples in flush with a hammer. Only after you're completely sure that you're satisfied with the surface should you trim the material down and remove any extra.(Figure 2-3) Don't get discouraged if the surface isn't perfect the first try. You don't have to start over. Just continue to tighten it and the table top will eventually look the way you want it to.
If you don't understand exactly how everything goes together I have provided a cross section of what the poker table top should look like.(Figure 2-4)
Once you're finished upholstering the playing surface, it should be slightly padded and be covered with poker table felt or whatever type of material that you choose.(Figure 2-5) When you set this piece aside to work on the rest of the poker table make sure that you don't just throw it down anywhere. Many of the materials that people use to upholster their poker tables is easily ruined. Make sure that you don't ruin your poker table before you even get done building it.
With the playing surface complete and tucked away safely, its time to build a nice casino quality rail for your poker table top. We'll learn how in Step Five - Upholstering the Padded Rail.