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Building a Gaming Table – 1.2 Planning Size

The Size of your Gaming Table

Probably the biggest factor to consider before you get started is how big should your gaming table be? I touched on the height in the previous article as that was really dictated by the fact if you were going to build legs onto the table or not. There are quite a few options to consider when it comes to the length and width of your table, along with the shape you want.

Table Shape

Gaming tables come in three standard shapes, (though by all means if you want to go outside the box then feel free) round, rectangle and oval (rectangle with rounded ends). Some games are going to work better on different shaped tables. Round ones are good for when you are all sitting around facing each other. Rectangle and oval shapes are more suitable if you have one person dealing who can sit in the middle of the longer edge and also tend to accommodate larger sized game boards. They also tend to make better use of the space within a room compared to round ones. As well as considering the practical reasons, you may also prefer the look of a certain shape over another.

Overall Table Size

First lets consider the overall dimensions of the entire table, this is really going to be determined by the size of the room you plan on using it in. You can’t make it bigger than will fit in the room, so if you’re in a small house or flat (apartment) or just short on space you need to factor this in. You should also bear in mind leaving room to actually sit around it and how big your chairs are and also if you want extra space to be able to walk around it while people are sitting at the table.

However you may not want to make the biggest table possible even if you do have the room for it. You need to consider things like being able to reach across it, sometimes a smaller table can be better if you can reach for what you want rather than having to get another player to pass things to you. This is more of a concern if playing card games where one person is dealing all the time, typically in a lot of games you are going to need to be passing things around.

The last considering with overall size is how many people do you want to fit around it? If the table is too small for the number of players then you’re not going to be able to sit comfortably up against the table, or some people may have to share a chair and squeeze up tight. This can be ok on occasion when you want to squeeze an extra person in, but you ideally want to build a table big enough to cater for your usual number of players. Plan for a minimum of 18″ or 45cm per person around the edge for a tight fit, though 24″ or 61cm would be more comfortable. If your chairs are fairly wide, typical if they have arms on them, then you will probably want to measure them first and use that in your calculations.

Some rough size suggestions, please check for yourself rather than taking these as gospel. There is some leeway in the dimensions so adjust as needed. A standard dining table width is usually around 36″ or 91cm wide, the round table dimension is the diameter. A gaming table with a recessed area you will probably want a little bit wider for some leeway on what games will fit, even if you do normally lean on the edge of your standard flat table.

Design 4p 4-6p 6-8p 8-10p
Round 81cm 117cm 137cm 152cm
Rectangle 96 x 117cm 100 x 152cm 107 x 193cm 112 x 244cm
Oval 96 x 117cm 100 x 152cm 107 x 193cm 112 x 244cm

Design 4p 4-6p 6-8p 8-10p
Round 32" 46" 54" 60"
Rectangle 38" x 46" 40" x 60" 42" x 76" 44" x 96"
Oval 38" x 46" 40" x 60" 42" x 76" 44" x 96"


Playing Area Size

The other part of the table size (unless you are just going to for a normal fully flat table and not a recessed one) is how much space do you need to play on. For card games this isn’t usually so much of a problem, though for board games you want to have enough space to fit your board on and probably some extra space around the edge for playing pieces as well. It’s probably worth laying out the game you have that is going to use the most space and then design with that in mind. Some games are notorious for requiring lots of space so you may decide to exclude those and either accommodate them by other means, such as using the table in its not recessed configuration, or perhaps using side tables as well.

Outside Rail Width

For the width of the rail around the edge of the table, I would look at a minimum of 4″ / 10cm wide up to 6″ / 15cm. If you are putting drink holders into the rail then wider is better. You may want to determine the size of your playing surface first and then add the rail width onto that, though do double check that this won’t make the overall table size too large.

The alternative method would be determine the maximum size you can fit and then size the width of the rail based on how large a recessed playing surface you desire. Perhaps now you can see why I suggest you start off by planning your gaming table before going ahead and just building!


This isn’t a factor most will need to consider, but if you plan on taking the table anywhere, then having it a size you can fit in your vehicle would be useful. Being able to easy carry it about, either for taking places, or even putting away in your own house / garage if you’ve gone for a folding leg design that you can put away.

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