Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lipstick and Sawdust -How to Build a Carpetball Table

Carpetball Table Tutorial

Late last year the youth pastor at my church asked me to build a carpet ball table for the youth rec area. I had never heard of one so, I proceeded to look them up online. Turns out there is a National Carpet Ball Table Association, and this game is much more famous than I had imagined. It turns out that churches, camps, boy scouts and other recreation arenas use carpet ball tables for children, teen and adult entertainment. It is a super fun game to play. The basics? It's a bit like shuffleboard or pool where each player lines up 6 billiard balls in any order on their side of the table within arms length. Then the white cue ball is used to knock over the opposite player's ball into the gutter, the first one to knock all of the balls into the opponent's gutter wins! Sounds fun, huh? For more info on the game itself here is a link to carpet

After a little research I designed my own table with a little Kristen spin on it. The church was also looking for cubbies, or extra storage for student bags, coats etc. in the youth church area. My idea? To mount a carpet ball table on top of cubbies, and viola knocking out two birds with one stone. 

Here's how I built it. 

I purchased two cubbie pieces from Ikea Expedit in birch effect and put them together in my garage. These cost about 100 dollars each. The bad news? I think they may be discontinued though you may be able to find a similar product or purchase on ebay. 

After building, I laid them horizontally, set aside then proceeded building the top. Please note, most carpet ball tables are built with 2x4 legs or some sort of combination. I've seen them built on shop horses, search for different bases to see if you want something different. 

Building Instructions

**Please read all the way through before attempting to build. 

You'll need:

2 2x12's at 12 foot long
3 2x4's at 8 ft long 
1 1x6 at 4 ft long
1 1x10 at 4 ft long 
2 pieces of plywood cut at 22 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick
A long piece of carpet (really any texture) at 17 feet long appx. 
Carpet adhesive
Speed square 
Long clamps
Wood glue
2 1/2 inch screws
1 1/2 inch screws
3/4 inch screws
6 hex lagbolts at 3 inches long, and washers
Finishing? your choice, I left natural but needed poly-acrylic to seal the lumber

Cut list: 
2 2x12 at 12 foot long (I had the lumber yard cut these, ensure they are as straight as possible!)
2 1x6 at 22 inches long (gutters)
11 2x4's at 22 inches long (supports) 
2 pieces of plywood cut at 66.5 inches long x 22 inches wide x 3/4 inch thick  ( I had the lumber yard rip and cut them, because this is a big pain in the butt to do with your own table saw) 

Assembling the table (lane)

First, lay out your 2x12's these are 12 feet long.

Then, add your two 1x6's at 22 inches long - these are your gutters, they lay flush to the bottom of the alley, and flush to the ends, they are attached with wood glue and countersunk 2 1/2 inch screws from the outside. Then clamp. I did this on both sides. And allowed to dry. 

Next its time for your 2x4's, many of them. They are to be cut in 22 inch lengths. I placed two of them from the edge of the 1x6 gutter perpendicular ensured squareness and attached with glue and 2 1/2 inch countersunk screws. Then from each end, I placed a 2x4 FLAT but level to the top of the 2x4 attached to the gutter 1x6.

Note: There is a two inch lift under the 2x4.  This is because I want the top to not sit directly on top of the cubbies, I want the top to "lip" over the cubbies. 

Then find the middle of the lane, from where the gutter starts and add a 2x4 laid down flat at 66.5 inches and attach. This is so that the plywood that is added later has a meeting and attachment point. 

Then, pick up the top and set it on the two cubbies pushed together. This took two adults to do. 

Note: the cubbies are not attached in any way. 

**I don't have a pic of this step but essentially you will have the 2 2x12's w/ the end gutters attached, two 2x4 end pieces laid flat 6 inches from the end and one 2x4 laid flat at the center of the lane. 

Then, measure out from the center at 6 inches apart and attach each support from the outsides with glue and countersunk screws. I used my speed square and checked 

Then I added a 2x4 at 22 inches long every 6 inches or so down the line, using my speed square I attached with wood glue and outside countersunk screws. Please note: these HAVE to be level or when you add your plywood the table will not be level!!! Check with a scrap piece of wood every time you add another 2x4. See diagram below.


Next step...the plywood. You will have two pieces of plywood 66.5 inches long and 22 inches wide 3/4 inch thick. Because these are a pain to cut/ rip yourself save the energy and annoyance and have the lumber shop cut these so that they are perfect. First, I added beads of wood glue to the first set of the 2x4's, (do them one side at at time) the first piece of plywood is set flush to the end of the (peach) 2x4 and then the second piece of plywood is added to the lane. Because I built part of the table in the winter and part in the spring, the 2x12 definitely changed size a bit so I had to really squeeze in the plywood. Try and get the center seam as tight as you can.

Then, I had my 7 year old stand and stomp (with her winter boots on) the plywood to get it to level and snug in the lane.

Then, I secured the plywood checking for perfect level and used my impact driver to screw the top with the 1.5 inch screws, all the way around the plywood.

Next step, adding the ends (1x10x22 inches long) to the lane. These fit in-between the ends of the 2x12's with glue and screws. Don't worry about the pencil marks or the look of the boards, they will get covered in carpet.

Attaching table

Next, drilling holes for the table to attach to the bases (cubbies). I centered the top perfectly on top of the bases and drilled 6 holes with a drill bit from the underside of the cubbies into the 2x4's in 6 different places. These don't have to be perfectly spaced out, just securely attached. Then I used my socket wrench to screw the washers and hex lag bolts by hand. 


Next, the finishing. I knew this had to be done right before the carpet install. No pic of this but... I filled all countersunk holes with wood filler and sanded the 2x12's inside and outside of the lane with my belt sander. First with 120 grit, then with 220 grit. This was exhausting because of the size of the table. Literally, I busted my belt sander doing this step, so I had to purchase a new one. :(

Here, I could have painted or stained the wood but decided to leave the natural grain and color to match the base. Next, I applied two coats of poly-acrylic in clear satin. No splinters, pretty smooth good to go. 

Carpet Install

Next comes the tedious part...the carpet install. I recruited my boyfriend and his dad after one failed attempt on my part to get it to install perfectly. 

They unrolled the carpet and laid it out over the table cutting off the bulk excess. Then they fitted the carpet and cut with a carpet cutter along the wood edges to ensure a straight cut. Then they laid out the carpet to cut off the stray fibers with scissors. 

Next they slathered the carpet adhesive evenly with the trowel all over the table and fit the carpet snugly. 

For the ends...They again, slathered the adhesive in the gutters and on the sides. Then folded over the end flaps and started to clamp with scrap wood to ensure the shape of the gutters. We let the adhesive dry overnight to ensure best form. 

Then after removing clamps you have something like this:

After the glue was dry...I screwed in 3/4 inch screws to tack the carpet ends so they would not fray. The ends of the lane are where players will lean up against the table so the carpet has to be attached securely. Please note that the carpet is also glued and screwed up under the table in order to eliminate frayed edges. 

Next, we vacuumed the top, and pulled out the billiard balls and started playing. 

My 4 year old stood on a stool to play. 

All done and ready to be taken to the church. 

How to move this monster

After 2 days of playing on the table I removed the hex bolts and broke the table down into three parts- the top, and two bases, I labeled the left and right side of the table so that it could be easily put back together. The church moving crew loaded it up and took it to the youth recreation area. There, I pieced the table back together and re-installed the hex bolts. 

Hope you like this project! This project was not for the weak or impatient. The best part is knowing that hundreds of students will love playing this game.

Drop me a line!

Like me on FB!

Thanks, Kristen 


  1. Super job! Could you tell me the proper height of the table bed, please? Thanks!

    1. I’m just finishing up making a carpetball project.

      I made it with a ball return like some pool tables.

      Enables you to play by yourself.

  2. We used outdoor carpet and the balls roll very crookedly. Any thoughtsm

  3. We used outdoor carpet and the balls roll very crookedly. Any thoughtsm

    1. Usually the issue with lumpy carpet is the boards not the carpet in my experience.

  4. Thanks for these instructions. We used them to make a table this last weekend. We made a video about it. Sorry the vid also has some explicit content but nothing too bad so I thought I'd post it for you here so at least you can watch the first few minutes.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Nice work, kristen. Building such a large table would cost a tremendous amount of time and effort. If you feel like too tired from this task, refer to our Router tablefor support.

  7. thanks for your plans. the 'buy' list and 'cut' list were fantastic! i used this plan and will construct legs from 4x4's. but so far the deck is fantastic! we used carpet squares (24x24) and just cut 2 inches off each and modified the rest! Total cost before the legs, $113 from Home Depot and I already had the carpet.

  8. Just finished one of these, with modifications for the legs and the carpet layout (up the sides as well). "This project was not for the weak or impatient." - Absolutely true, but well worth the time and effort when you watch so many people having so much fun with it! A big hit with all ages!

    This is a sturdy piece of furniture that will last for many years. Thanks for the great set of instructions, and for the inspiration to get this project done!

    1. That's great to hear. As a curiosity what did you do to modify the legs. I know this was a monster to build. Almost like building a pool table. Thanks for visiting my page!

  9. Any ideas as to how to make this foldable?

  10. They look really good and are a good size. It's a good project if you need some storage space because to buy the same thing at a store would cost you double and maybe even more.

  11. The space between the flat 2x4s is 9.85".

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