September 12, 2011

New Game Table

I've been playing HackMaster, but not with any PCs that I'm keeping journals for.  My Wednesday night group has switched GMs and this time I'm attempting to play more of a support PC.  Support PCs, in my opinion, are a bit on the boring side as far as gamer tales go.

The Sunday night group just finished a small published adventure that....well, let's just say I didn't care for it.  The premise sounded good, it was an honorable mission, but the execution was very lacking.  Before you go blaming the GM I should note that I finally read the adventure just after we finished playing it.  I found it a bit on the bland side and quite verbose.  Glad it is over.

One new predicament is that we may have picked up a new/old player.  One of our first HackMaster players moved back to Boise and has expressed interest in gaming with us.  He's played one session and rolled up a new PC.  If everyone shows that gets our table size up to six, including the GM.  That is a bit much for our small kitchen table.

First attempt at 42x80 tabletop
We have more room in the living room, but the table is still too small, so I endeavored to build a new tabletop.  My wife and I ventured down to Home Depot with measurements in hand.  I figured that we could fit an eighty inch by forty-two inch in the living room.  Unfortunately I couldn't fit that big of a slab into my FJ40, so we had the particle board cut into roughly forty inch square sections.

Laying out lines for added support
When we got it back home I was able to measure out the dimensions of the kitchen table onto the two pieces.  After pre-drilling some holes I screwed in some two by two supports that keep the sections from sliding around the table.  There is less than a half inch of movement while nestled on the kitchen table, but it isn't as sturdy as I'd like.  The sides only have six inches clearance which is just fine, but the ends are eighteen inches and bend/flex a bit too much.

Added end supports
Sealed and painted
After the game I got some help bringing the unified table out to the driveway where I had set up some sawhorses.  Using the leftover two by twos, I fastened some extra supports for the ends of the table.  I put a good coat of Kilz primer sealer on, followed up by a coat of white semi-gloss I happened to have lying around.

Holes patched with caulk
Top sealed and painted
We flipped the table over and before I painted this side I figured that I would fill the screw holes.  The screws were countersunk and then plastered over with some caulk I had lying around.  I thought I had some wood filler around, but the caulk was going bad and if the table flexed any I didn't want the filler cracking or popping out.  The caulk should hold up.

Now that was done, I was able to seal then paint the tabletop.  Easy enough.

Starting the grid design
Halfway done on the grid
To be a real game table though, it needs to have a grid laid on top.  I was planning on using low-tack painter's tape to mark off some of the table to paint with a contrasting color.  Then I'd alternate the tape lines to paint even more of the top such that I'd get a nice checkerboard of 1" squares.  That wasn't going to work.  The tape was too fiddly so I needed another method.  A straight-edge and some Sharpies would do the trick.  I laid out some reference tape, marked it off every inch, and then did the hard work of making the lines.

Completed grid
It was almost painful, but I took my time and got the marks down.  The grid was a little off at the edges so I just left them to be.  If I had tried to square out the grid I think the results would have been shoddy.

All set up in the living room
After the grid came the real fun: six coats of Varathane Spar Varnish.  It turned the white tabletop more of a mottled beige.  I liked the results as it seems more like parchment.  After the sixth coat dried for 24 hours I used some corner supports screwed down over the corners for added protection. They worked like a charm.

The Spar Varnish gives the tabletop a waterproof finish that lets us use wet-erase markers just like the  game mat does.  We have to be careful with the red markers though, just like we do with the game mat.  The only issue is that the table is very glossy.  If the blinds aren't closed, people sitting opposite the window cannot make anything out over the shine.
Notice the shine

No big deal....we'll just put the game mat down.

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