View Full Version : Table/counter top with inlaid grid

2016-06-13, 04:49 PM
So you can imagine what all manner of nonsense popped up when searching for table top grid in here -_-

Does anyone have any suggestions for a top for a gaming table we are going to build for our expanding nerd room? I've seen desks and table tops in offices and stuff that have things like grids and other things made into the top but have no idea where to get them and have had zero luck in around 4 hours worth of googling. I'm not real picky about the material as long as we can either use a washable or dry erase marker on it. I figure there has to be some kind of company that does custom counter/table/desk tops like this I just havent had any luck finding them.


EDIT: So funny story. I went back to google to bang my head against the wall some more and the first thing that popped up was a web page titles "Table/counter top with inlaid grid" and I flipped my ****.... it took me to this very post.... I'm pretty sure I shed a tear. lol

2016-06-13, 09:27 PM
I have been thinking about a similar concept for a while and have a few options that you might want to consider.

First and easiest is just to buy a battle mat to go on top of whatever table you choose to use. They are fairly cheap and most now come in a two sided variety with a grid on one side and hexes on the other. Here's an example: https://www.amazon.com/Chessex-Role-Playing-Play-Mat/dp/B000XQQHK8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1465867513&sr=8-4&keywords=battlemat

Advantage: It's pretty cheap, grid and hex, can be rolled up and used on any table, comes in a variety of sizes
Disadvantage: boring color, an added layer on the table that can wrinkle or kink, you need to use only wet pens not dry erase pens, need to erase ink fairly soon as it can stain the mat

If you don't have to roll and transport another good idea I saw was to use a combination of grid paper (https://www.amazon.com/Post--30-Inches-Sheets-30-Sheets-2-Pads/dp/B00006I9V8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1465867352&sr=8-3&keywords=large+grid+paper) and a poster frame (https://www.amazon.com/MCS-65594-Original-Poster-36-Inch/dp/B00NVLAQI6/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1465867404&sr=1-4&keywords=poster+frame). Just mount a sheet of the paper in the frame and you've got a good game play surface.

Advantage: Assuming you don't have to buy a huge pack like on amazon, it's cheap. The plastic or glass frame will stand up to dry erase markers far better than a mat, you can replace the paper as you want, possibly with different pre-drawn settings (use a marker for the dungeon, but predraw a frequently visited town)
Disadvantage: a bit more expensive and cumbersome than the mat, even more of an added layer on the table to get in the way

If you're really set on building a table, you could just make it out of a common material like melamine which is sold at most HomeDepot or Lowes stores. Here's an example: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Marker-Board-Common-3-16-in-x-2-ft-x-4-ft-Actual-0-180-in-x-23-75-in-x-47-75-in-7012090/203377708

This doesn't have a grid but if you have a good framing square you can draw in your own grid using permanent marker.

If you want to make it a bit more classy you could build a table and either cut a grid into it or lay down something a bit more substantial like thread or wire. Then coat the entire surface in a heavy duty epoxy finish (http://www.homedepot.com/p/FAMOWOOD-1-gal-Glaze-Coat-Clear-Epoxy-Kit-2-Pack-5050110/203279056) This stuff goes on pretty thick and will self level. It's durable and will most likely stand up to dry erase marker use afterwards. I used something like it to 'fraternity proof' a ping pong table we build in college.

Advantage: many options for designs, very durable, possible 'classy' look
Disadvantage: Expensive and a lot more work

Of course a great option, and one I would really love to do, is to build a table out of melamine and then use a digital projector to put various maps (complete with their own grids) onto the table.

Good luck with your project.

2016-06-13, 10:05 PM
I've thought about making a table with a grid before. Two possibilities :

1. Have a plywood sheet, cut grooves into it in the shape of a grid. Inlay some wire, slap some varnish or sealant on top.

2. Make a table with a white top and a ridge around the outside. Have a plexiglass sheet cut to fit it with a grid cut or etched in, on the bottom side. Draw on the top with dry erase markers for making the map.

2016-06-14, 10:44 AM
thanks for the ideas guys. I think I may have decided on a combination of some of yalls ideas. have a slightly dropped area in the middle of the table and have a cut down battle map or just a large drawn grid on a light colored background and then have a piece of "glass/plexiglass/lexan/whatever ends up being the most durable without braking the bank" cut to fit the dropped area.

Thanks guys and keep the ideas coming. :)

Mark Hall
2016-06-14, 10:55 AM
My thought was to use 1" square ceramic tiles to cover the top of your table... so, you build a table with a somewhat recessed center, then tile over the entire thing.

2016-06-14, 11:55 AM
My thought was to use 1" square ceramic tiles to cover the top of your table... so, you build a table with a somewhat recessed center, then tile over the entire thing.

I thought about this too, the only downside I came up with is ceramic is so easy to crack and break. I had planned on looking into a more durable version of this that could be drawn on tonight

EDIT: If nothing else, it could be a much nicer backing for the glass/lexan/etc idea I was talking about

2016-06-14, 12:00 PM
I thought about sandwiching a chessex mat between two layers of clear plastic/plexi-glass. You'd lose the flexibility of roll it up and travel, but if you game in one location, it's something that you can stick behind a cabinet or something and just throw out on the dining room table at any time. Plus, I'm pretty sure wet erase and dry erase markers work pretty well on plexi.

Poor man's solution to say the least . . .

2016-06-25, 11:17 PM
After I initially responded I starting thinking more about this and recently made it happen.

I'll take your "poor man's solution" and raise it to cheap bastard.

Net investment....about $4.

I found an old poster frame at a nearby garage sale. This one is about 2.5 by 4 feet or about the size of a good movie poster. Cost $2.

I then dug out some old poster board I had in the basement. This size needed two standard sheets (cut down a bit) so that would probably cost another $2 if I bought them new.

I glued the boards down to the cardboard backing of the frame. Then using a framing square I simply marked out 1" lines and drew my own grid with pencil.

Closed everything up and I've got a very good board that is easy to erase and with the appropriate grid markings. Everything done in about 30 minutes.

I would recommend using pencil for the lines if you try to make your own. They are dark enough that they show through the dry erase marker a bit. I was going to use pen but that would have been a mistake. If I do it again I may go a little lighter with the pencil lines.

But for about $4 I have a grid lined dry erase board that is very lightweight.

2016-06-26, 12:01 PM
2' x 3' piece of clear plexiglass from home depot
"craft tape" from Office Depot (the stuff they use to make grids on dry erase boards)
2' x 3' sheet of parchment paper from Hobby Lobby

Use the tape to make the grid on the underside of the plexiglass.
Put the paper in the recessed area
Put the plexiglass on top of that

For a little more effort you could paint the lines on the plexi.
Or you could print (or draw) the lines on the paper.

Personally I have a table with a digital projector built in. The projector is set up for rear projection, and is in a light-tight enclosure under the table. I can project a grid, custom maps, even boards for board games on the table. Since I did the construction myself, and the cost of projectors has dropped A LOT, my total investment was under a a grand. I considered building my own projector on the cheap, but the new projectors have a much higher lumen rating than what I could build...bright enough to be seen in a well lit room.

2016-06-26, 07:35 PM
I thought about this too, the only downside I came up with is ceramic is so easy to crack and break.
Ceramic is very hard to crack and break, unless you're talking about dainy tea cups and stuff - ceramic tiles are used for hard-wearing floors, after all. Get a single 1x2 metre white floor tile (I hear they're in fashion, over here anyway) and draw on that, kind of like a chemistry classroom. Just make sure you don't get anti-slip tiles.

Edit: I mean, put a tile on the table. Don't put it on some trestles unsupported, that will, as you say, break it quickly. You want a solid, not-very-flexible table.

2016-06-27, 09:08 AM
Gaming on the cheap is always fun!