If you're ready to spice up your dorm or increase your apartment's entertainment value, you can do wonders by learning how to build a ping pong & air hockey table top in a few easy steps. Here's everything you'll need to save money and create a great custom dual-purpose stadium for hours of entertainment.
You will need:
- A sheet of smooth plywood for the table top. This should measure 9' x 5' and be at least .25" thick for good bounce. An alternate option is to use two 4.5' x 5' sheets, which does of course mean you will have a seam at center court, but will make the table easier to flip over.
- Wood trim (chipboard) 1" square beams for air hockey rails. You will need enough length to go all the way around the perimeter of the playing field. We recommend two 9' sections for the long sides, and four 5'3" (63") sections for the ends.
- Wood trim (chipboard) 1" wide strips. These flat pieces will cover the goal slots and go all the way around the top of the beams, ensuring a level finish so that you can rest the table on the air hockey court and play an even ping pong game. They ought to be the same width as the beams, and you will need two 9' sections and two 5' sections.
- Ping pong net kit. Look for the detachable kind with bracket mounts.
- Enamel paint.
- Sanding machine with a buffing attachment.
- Drill and Drillbits/Dremel
- Hot/wood glue and clamps
- Prepare the playing fields. Here's where you can get creative and paint, stain or otherwise color the plywood court to your liking. Afterwards, use the enamel for a smooth finish. In this project, we're going to use one side for the air hockey game and the other side for ping pong competitions, so don't forget to paint both. While a single coat of enamel is sufficient for ping pong, the air hockey side needs to be really smooth, so don't stop until it's like glass. The buffer will really come in handy between coats.
- Ready the rails. Air hockey rails extend all the way around the table with a slot for the goals. The easiest way to think about it is as if you were going to make a picture frame and attach it to the perimeter of the table top on the air hockey side. The goal slots should be dead center, which is why we chose to use four end pieces, so the goal spaces are already included. Use the mitre saw to cut the corner edges at 45-degree angles so they meet up perfectly. If you're willing to spend a bit more, you can get this done when you pick up the pieces in the first place, but remember, the goal slot should not have angled sides.
- There are varying ways to attach your court boundaries, but since you don't want fasteners coming out into your ping pong court, wood glue is best. Make sure you use the clamps to allow your glue to cure properly as you fix the rails around the perimeter of the air hockey side. After this is done, do the same with the strips, on top of the rails. You ought to end up with an even surface and covers across the top of the goal slots.
- Finishing touches. Returning to the ping pong side, measure out where the net brackets need to go and drill holes for them. The tabletop should be easy to flip over and whenever you want to play ping pong, just set the net up and go.
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