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how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

This project was a collaboration with Evan & Katelyn (see their video !), they are super fun YouTubers who came and hung out for the week. We made a really awesome, custom ping pong table with hidden storage and an electronic scoring system, come see how we made it!

  1. Make the Table Base
  2. Attach the Legs
  3. Combine the Table Top Halves
  4. Add the Hidden Hinges
  5. Assemble the Pieces
  6. Program the Scoring System
  7. Add a Net and Play!

1. Make the Table Base

For the base, we started with 2 full 4×8 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood. One of these full sheets will be the bottom of the table, so all it needed was pocket holes all along the edges. The storage space under the table top measures 89 1/2 inches long, 41 1/2 inches wide, and 10 1/2 inches deep and has a center divider running the width of the space to help with structural rigidity. I used a combination of the circular saw and the table saw to break down the other sheet of plywood to get these pieces. All of the table base pieces were assembled using pocket holes.

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How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Make the Base

2. Attach the Legs

The legs were also cut from the second sheet of plywood. At the widest point, the legs are 9 1/2 inches and taper down to a 4 inch foot. We cut eight of these and assembled them in pairs at 90 degree angels. The exposed plywood was edge banded to give the table a cleaner look. Each pair of legs was screwed to a corner of the base from the inside so you couldn’t see any fasteners. Because standard ping pong tables are 30 inches high, the legs were 29 1/4 inch long, which left room for the 3/4 inch plywood table top.

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Attach the Legs

3. Combine the Table Top Halves

Because official ping pong tables are 9 feet long by 5 feet wide, a traditional 4×8 sheet of plywood from the home center wouldn’t work. Each quarter of the table could be cut out 4×8 sheets, but that would leave a lot of scrap and would push the price of the table top close to $200. Josh found a plywood distributor that had 5 foot by 5 foot birch plywood sheets for around $30 each. Rather than making the whole flat table, we cut and assembled the table quarters together using biscuit joinery.

Ping Pong tables have white boundary lines along the sides and across the middle of the table. We used walnut as our boundary material which contrasted the birch plywood really nicely. With 1 inch walnut boundary lines, we were able to cut 4-28 1/2 by 52 inch quarters out of the two 5×5 foot sheets. Each walnut & plywood quarter was glued up using large clamps, but when the table halves needed to be glued up independently, we switched to a wedge-style clamp. Using me CNC table as a flat surface, we placed the 2 quarters together and hammered in some wedges along the bottom creating sideways clamping pressure. After both table top halves were biscuit joined and wedge clamped, it was time to attach them to the center boundary line that held the hidden hinges.

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Combine the Table Top Halves

4. Add the Hidden Hinges

One of this project’s core capabilities was that it needed to have storage for my geeky toys in the table base. To access this space, the table top’s halves would hinge along a center stringer so they could be opened independently. I didn’t want hinges interfering with game play, so I chose to use the same style of hinge that was used on the Secret Door project a few years ago. These hidden hinges come with a template and I marked the specific hole locations to the work pieces. I used a combination of my drill press, hand drill, and chisels to clear out the space for the hinges. This center section would also hold the LEDs, so I cut a dado down the middle before assembling the top together.

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Ping Table- Add the Hidden Hinges

5. Assemble the Pieces

All of the tedious chisel work really paid off and the hinged top sat flush and looked amazing. The table top was then attached to the base by driving some screws down through the hinged center into the base’s center support. Minus the specialized net, we had a working ping pong table that looked amazing! But this is I Like to Make Stuff, we couldn’t leave it there.

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How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Assemble the Pieces

6. Program the Scoring System

Another core capability was that the table should help the players keep score. We decided that a strip of individually addressable LEDs would be mounted under the net and shine a lit “point” up through some frosted plexiglass when a button is hit. I programmed an Arduino Uno to light one half of the LED strip red and the other blue each time a player pushed their button. I used two large arcade buttons as the inputs and the micro controller output a signal to the mounted LED strip. Again, not to interfere with game play, Josh mounted the buttons at the bottom of the table legs so that the players could tap them with their foot. Now everyone knows the score and when to switch serves!

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Program the Scoring System

7. Attach the Net and Play!

For this table, Evan & Katelyn designed and built a beautiful leather net with a laser-cut geometric pattern along with some custom-engineered, 3d printed net attachments. You have to check out their build here, they did an amazing job. But if you didn’t have amazing friends who went above and beyond min the name of ping pong, you can get a net that attaches to the table really quickly and easily. Once your net is mounted, grab some paddles and get playing!

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Pong Table- Attach the Net & Play!

Totally Worth the Effort

In conclusion, 4 people spent a week building this over-engineered, unnecessarily-automated, capability-laden project, but man is it awesome. Again, dedicated plans for this ping pong table aren’t really practical, but I challenge you to think differently about gaming tables. This table will not only be an awesome ping pong table, it’ll be a Lego building station, a board game center, a model-making space, and a podcasting arena. I am so grateful that Evan & Katelyn came by and hung out and for their help making this project a reality. We have A LOT of behind the scenes footage from their trip, so go check out that video here, and be sure to stop by Evan & Katelyn’s website to see more from them!

how_to_make_a_ping_pong_table

How to Make a Ping Pong Table- I Like to Make Stuff