A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

January 6, 2021

A Steam-era Inspired Game/Work Table


I’ve been playing around with some ideas for a new combination game-work table for my basement. Most of the time I will use it a general-purpose table. I do a lot of mail order fulfillment, and general purpose work on the temporary table I have in my basement. But it is really simple and has cheap folding legs. The new table would be much nicer and add some additional functions and storage.

Overall size of the new table would be 5 feet wide  x7 feet long and 30 inches high. The central wood area that is the  "play" surface is 4 by 6. A lot of fancy game tables have the central area depressed so a game could be set up and the table still used for other functions, such as dining,  by installing temporary panels above the depressed section. I don’t think I need that as this table will not serve as a dining table. If I don't depress the center, I can add some sliding drawers to the fascia. They would slide under the top surface.

The holes are drink holders. These would be handy even when it is just me using it as well as when guests are over. The slots are for dice and pens etc while gaming. Otherwise they will catch sawdust.

The central area would be plywood, may be decorated to look like teak planks (see theme below). I would probably have to make the table top in two sections pieces because if it was all one piece it would be really heavy and hard to move down the stairs. The gray surround would be 6 inch wide hardwood (poplar stained/painted opaque gray).  The edge would be rounded or chamfered off for comfort. 

The fascia would be hardboard similar to how I built the fascia for my model railroad. The table will have a steam era theme with simulated rivets, brass details, and maybe some military insignia. The rivets are purely decorative. I used a similar technique on my WWI model railroad layout.

The pedestal is 2x4 feet. It is offset deep enough under the table to allow playing while sitting. The pedestal would have some storage. It would ride on locking casters. Lately I’ve been putting all my workbenches on casters. Makes cleaning etc very easy. 

What do you think?


  1. That is awesome! I for one have determined that having a nice looking hobby area, be it for trains or gaming in your case, makes for a more enjoyable experience. My old basement layout and work area lacked the finished look. My move to a house with no basement left me with a spare bedroom. I was pressured into making it look finished and I believe it adds to the enjoyment. Functional doesn't mean it can't look cool!

  2. I have seen a lot of game tables (I am a gamer too) but most are spun off of poker tables. Your idea will be something new and, while not for everyone, should be an interesting project.

  3. Fabulous! I have wanted to construct something like that for years, but just don't quite have the space to dedicate to it. I might go a little higher and depress the center and add drawers I have found the working at or playing games on tables that are a little taller are more comfortable. Your mileage may vary.

  4. Re the drink holders, you seem to be assuming an equal number of right and left-handed players.

  5. Having recently found myself the owner of a Core Set the Star Wars Legion game, and with a 4'x6' railroad in need of a removable cover, I'm going the route of making it dual purpose. The cover can be removed and laid over our dining room table to make a gaming surface on which tiles/mats can be placed. The SWL battle area is 3x5, so that leaves 6" on either long edge as card/figure/dice tray storage. Unfortunately for the gaming experience, my railroad is high enough for near-eye-level ops, making the cover really too high for gaming in that location. But the dining room is a much more refined space than the garage where the trains reside (hence the need of a cover!). I'm planning on building it in two halves held together by magnets at the joint. Of course all this will happen once I can get to a hardware store safely...

    Your table looks ideal. Looking foward to see how it turns out.