How To Build A BlackJack Table
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Several years ago I built a blackjack table from scratch. It took around 10 hours to build using only 2 people. The total cost was probably around $75-$100.
Here are some pictures of the finished product:
(See other people's designs as well!)
NOTE: Real blackjack tables do not have cut-out cupholders. This is a feature
I added to my design for home use. If you prefer to build a table that uses the
moveable cupholders that slip under the armrest (like you see in Vegas,) pay attention
to the italicized notes in these instructions.
- 2 sheets of 4'x8'x1/2" (or thicker) particle board or plywood
- 4"x4"x8' lumber - 4 pieces
- 6 3" PVC pipe couplers (Not needed for moveable cupholders.)
- 1 block of wood approx. 6"x8"x2" (for chip rack - optional)
- 1 box of wood screws - probably #8 or #10 and 3" long
- 1 quart of "brush-on" construction adhesive
- 1 quart of dark stain (your preference - used on the legs)
- 8'x8' piece of carpet padding. The smoother the surface the better
- 8'x8' piece of felt. Red and green are the most common colors to use.
- 8'x3' piece of "fake leather" material. Look around the craft store for ideas.
- 8'x3"x3" piece of foam (stiffer is better - size doesn't have to be exactly 3")
- Several small cans of paint for tabletop markings
- 1 can of flat black spray paint(Not needed for moveable cupholders.)
- Stencils (store bought and/or homemade) for tabletop painting.
- 1 Black Marker & pencil
- Staple Gun (w/ staples!)
- Power screwdriver (drill w/ screwdriver attachment)
- Drill & various size bits
- 3" paintbrush (for the adhesive)
- Artists brushes (for design work on the table top)
- Cut both sheets of plywood into 3' radius circles. This is best done by taking a 3' length of string,
pinning it to the middle of one of the long sides of the plywood, and swinging it in a arc, marking the
path with your marker as you go. After the semicircle is drawn, cut it out carefully with the jigsaw. Save all scraps.
- Your cuts won't be perfect. Line the two semicircles on top of each other. If they're not a good fit,
flip one over to see if that makes them fit better. Once they're lined up, write "TOP" in marker on the top
of each of the two sheets so you keep them oriented together. (DON'T mark the bottom! - it will be visible.)
- There will be six "betting positions" on the table. On the top piece, divide the semicircle into 6 equal pie
slices, each of 30 degrees (or, 18.8" arc length) I recommend actually drawing the pie slices with the marker.
- If you have the block of wood for a chip holder, mark off a rectangle in the middle of the flat side
to perfectly hold this block. This will be immediately in front of the dealer.
- Mark off a region 3" (or, equal to the width of your foam piece) from the edge of the semicircle
- In each "pie slice", draw a circle 1" from the right edge of the pie slice and 2" from the 3" semicircle line
drawn in the previous step. Make these circles exactly the size of the OUTER diameter of your pipe couplers.
These are going to be the cupholders. (see diagram for how your markings should now look).
(For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- Using the jigsaw, cut out the chip-rack rectangle
- Drill a large hole in the middle of each cupholder circle and using the jigsaw, cut them out. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- Measure the height of your PVC fittings and the width of THE TOP PIECE of plywood/particle board. (For moveable cupholders, just assume the PVC fittings are 4 inches tall.)
- Spray paint your PVC fittings (cup holders) now and let them sit to dry. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- Cut 4 or 5 "spacers" from your 4"x4" pieces of lumber. The length of each spacer should be the height
of the PVC fittings MINUS the width of the particle board.
- If you need, sand down the spacers so they're all flat-topped and exactly the same height.
- Lay the spacers fairly evenly around the bottom semi-circle, making sure it will NOT match up with
a hole cut out of the top semi-circle. This diagram shows a sample arrangement.
- Using very exact measuring, mark on the BOTTOM SIDE of the BOTTOM semi-circle where the spacers will be.
- Drive 2 wood screws through the bottom side of the bottom semi-circle upwards into each spacer.
- You want the top of your table to be around 32" high - but figure this out for your own application. Then
figure how long you need your legs to be. Take the tabletop height minus the spacer height minus the widths
of BOTH pieces of plywood minus the width of your carpet padding. Carefully cut the 4"x4" pieces to EXACTLY these lengths. You should end with 7 legs.
- On the TOP of the bottom semi-circle, mark where you want your legs to be positioned. I highly recommend
you put them on the border of each pie slice drawn on the top semi-circle, since this will ensure that no table
leg is directly in front of a betting position. Also, make sure the spacers aren't in the way!
- Drive 2 wood screws downward through the BOTTOM semicircle into each leg.
- You now have a standing table. Is it sturdy? Are the legs of equal length? Do you need to sand down any
legs to make them the right length?
- CAREFULLY measure the location of each spacer on the bottom semicircle and mark their location on the TOP
of the top semicircle.
- Lay the top semicircle on top of your lower semicircle and its spacers.
- Drive 2 wood screws downward from the top of the top semicircle down into each spacer
- Spray black spray paint through the cupholder holes down onto the lower piece of plywood so that
when you look straight down through the cupholder holes, you only see black. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- You'll want some sort of "back" to your table along the long flat side, where the dealer stands. I recommend
taking a scrap piece of your plywood and cutting it to cover the gap between the two semicircles and also to stick up
about an inch or two above the playing surface. Make sure that it doesn't stick up directly in front of the
dealer's position, however. Also, if you cut some well-placed holes, you can use the "dead" space in the table
as storage for money, chips, cards, etc. If you want to get fancy, you could install small drawers in there!
I also recommend painting this piece before you attach it to the table, and definitely don't attach it until
the carpet padding and felt are installed! See the following picture for how I made mine.
- You now have a "naked" blackjack table! Does it look okay? Is the height ideal for your application?
Chip Rack Construction (Optional)
- To be honest, I don't remember what tool I used to make the chip rack. I think it was a horizontally-mounted
drill press. You can see mine in the above pictures.
- Measure the diameter of the chips you'll be using.
- Carefully drill out circular grooves in your block of wood that will perfectly hold a stack of chips
- It's easiest to drill the grooves all the way through the block of wood and then screw a flat "end piece"
onto one end so that the chips don't fall out of the groove.
- Use your own creativity here. If that fails, go buy one!
- Cut your carpet padding to cover the top of your table. Don't worry about the cupholder holes.
- Paint adhesive over the entire table top and over the entire bottom of the carpet padding. Carefully lay
the padding onto the table.
- Carefully cut out the holes for the cupholders in the padding. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- Get the felt ready. Cut it to size, leaving a couple of extra inches hanging off each side of the tabletop.
- Pull the felt tight over the table and staple it to the edges with the staple gun.
- For the cupholders, do NOT completely cut out the felt over those holes. Instead, punch a small hole over
the center of each hole and cut several slits extending from that small hole outward to the edge of the cupholder hole.
This will enable you to fold the felt down into the hole. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.) Use the same method for the chip rack hole.
- Shove the painted PVC couplers down into the holes. They should fit very tight and hold the felt in place.
Since you painted the wood below black, the interior of the cupholder should be entirely black. I also glued a
piece of black "fake leather" at the bottom of the cupholder to make it softer at the bottom. (For moveable cupholders, you can skip this step.)
- The armrest is the most difficult part... Start at one corner of the table and lay the near edge of the fake leather
upside-down just an inch from the edge of the table. Staple it down. Lay the foam over these staples
and wrap the material up around the foam and stretch it all the way down to the bottom piece of plywood. Staple
it to the bottom of the table. See the following diagram to see how this is done and the following picture to see how the result should look.
- Keep moving slowly and carefully around the table. If you do lots of stretching and are very careful, you
can keep the material from bunching up (it's difficult to make a straight piece of material fit to a semi-circle!)
Have someone else help you. They can keep the material stretched and taut while you staple it to the bottom.
(For moveable cupholders, you need to make sure to put a few gaps between the staples for the little
metal wedge of the cupholder to slip into. One gap per betting position makes sense.)
- Mount the back piece to the table now.
- Insert your chip rack. If possible, put small spacers under the front to keep it tilted toward the dealer (or else the chips
won't stand up!)
- Paint the betting circles a few inches in front of each betting position. Make sure to leave room
for the players' own stacks of chips! The circles should be large enough to hold a small pile of chips,
but not too large. I found the best way is to lightly draw the circles in pencil on the felt and just carefully
paint them by hand using an artist's brush. Stencils are too unreliable and can allow the paint to bleed under.
Definitely practice on some scrap felt first!
- Paint the rest of the table top. Don't paint the spot where the players' or dealer's hands will lie (just above
the betting circles and just above the chip rack) since it'll just wear off from use and the edges of the paint will
probably catch the cards. I think the fewer paintings the better unless you're a very good artist. Also be warned
that paint bleeds through felt and it's hard to get good clean edges! (If you can do silk screening or airbrushing,
these are probably better alternatives.)
- Stain the table legs
- I initially used three small pieces of scrap wood to make a small discard holder, but eventually bought a nicer
discard holder online.
Other People's Designs
Interested in what other people have done with this design? Check out the following links to see how people have taken this
idea, replicated it, and improved it.
Collapsible Legs (Doug's Table) <== Construction photos included!
Removable Legs (Jeff's Table)
Modified Existing Table (Kevin's Table) <== Construction photos included!
Silkscreened Felt (David's Table) <== Construction photos included!
Enclosed Bottom (Bryan's Table)
Enclosed Bottom 2 (Brian's Table)
Great Construction Pictures, Smaller Size (Bret's Table) <== Construction photos included!
PVC Pipe Removable Legs (Jonathan's Table) <== Construction photos included!
Nicer armrest design (Bob's Table)
Wood Panels (Mike's Table)
Detailed construction description (Murads' Table) <== Construction photos included!
Removable arm rests (Athony's Table)
Replica of MGM Grand table (Mark's Table)
Enclosed Bottom 3 (Michael's Table) <== Construction photos included!
Enclosed Bottom and Bamboo Trim (Jack's Table)
Basic Design Nicely Executed (Ken's Table)
Basic Design w/ Enclosed Legs (Jeff H.'s Table)
Cover Over an Existing Game Table (Josh's Table)
Cool Graphics, Re-Used Table Base (Mac's Table)
EXTREMELY Detailed Write-Up/Blog (Brian S.'s Table) <== Construction photos included!
The lesson from these other designs is that you should be creative and adapt the design to your own preferences and restrictions.
Where To Buy Accessories
For almost all gaming table parts and accessories, check out the Gambler's General Store, which is a neat retail
store a couple of miles off the strip in Las Vegas. Their website allows for online ordering and you can find almost anything
you need for your table. And, no, I'm not affiliated.
Gambler's General Store Website
Questions? Got pictures of your table? Email me (P.J.) at firstname.lastname@example.org