Measuring and Cutting the Wood to Build a Racetrack Poker Table
In this step you will need a tape measure, string or chain, pencil, circular saw, jig saw, a few nails, and two sheets of 3/4″ plywood. One sheet should have a stain grade finish while the other can be something much cheaper as only one piece will be exposed as the racetrack and the other will be completely covered in fabric.
To start, you will need to create the rounded ends of your poker table. To do this we measure 24″ in from each end and make a mark close to the center. Then you will measure 24″ from each side and connect with your previous mark to create and X. In the center of this X, pound in a nail part way. We will use the as our axis for all of our arc cuts.
Connect one end of your string or chain to the nail and the other end to your pencil making sure that your string is exactly 24″. To be sure, your pencil should meet the end of the sheet of plywood perfectly and arc either way to perfectly meet the outer edges. When you are sure that your measurements are correct, go ahead and draw the arc that your pencil follows when allowed to arc on the string (Figure 1-1). Now simply cut on the arced lines with your jig saw. Complete these steps for both sheets of plywood.
With both pieces of plywood now cut into identical ovals, its time to start making the differend pieces of your racetrack poker table. First we will work with the cheaper plywood that we will call Sheet 1. Using the same nails in the same axis points, you will draw another arc on each end of the oval. This time, however, you will shorten the string to 19.5″. To complete the ring, measure 4.5″ from the edge of both long sides and draw lines connecting your two arcs. This should give you a 4.5″ ring around the entire outer edge of the oval (Figure 1-2).
When you are sure that this is correct, its time to make your cuts. The easiest way to do this is to cut the long straight lines first by dipping your circular saw’s blade into the line and following until it curves. Then you finish the arcs with your jig saw giving you two pieces of wood. These will later become the top of your padded rail and the base of your table.
Now it’s time to mark and cut the racetrack, playing surface, and bottom of your padded rail. The lines will all be drawn like before, using the same axis points simply using different measurements. To cut the lower half of the rail off, you will use 22″ of string and measure 2″ from the outer edge. To cut the racetrack away from the playing surface you will use just 14.5″ of string and measure 9.5″ from the edge (Figure 1-3). This will give you a 7.5″ racetrack of which 2.5″ will be covered by the overhang of the rail, and 5″ will be exposed. If you want a wider or narrower racetrack, you can adjust the measurements accordingly.
With all of your lines drawn and double checked, you can carefully cut out all three pieces. Unlike the standard all felt tables, when you’re making a racetrack poker table, you need to be a little more careful with your cuts. This is because some of the wood will be exposed when the project is complete. Keep this in mind especially when you’re making the inner cut for your racetrack. I also recommend that you clamp, or otherwise support in some way, each piece as it is being cut. The idea is to prevent anything from snapping off and leaving a rough edge that is exposed.
With all of your cuts completed you will have 5 pieces of wood. All of these will be used to build your racetrack poker table. We have labeled them A (playing surface), B (racetrack), C (bottom of rail), D (top of rail), and E (base). Figure 1-4.
That’s it! All of your wood work is done. It’s time to put away the power tools and get out your paintbrush. Move on to Step Three – Finishing The Racetrack.