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What to look for: Strength or Hardness?

1275 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  woodnthings
I am in the theoretical design stage of building a new gaming table. My current table was thrown together with a quickness on a shoestring budget, and I'd like something I could really put some pride into. So this time around, I'm looking to use a better design and massively upgraded wood. It is on this latter topic that I find myself most in need of advice.

I want to use a proper furniture-grade hardwood in the next table, and I'm looking at building in an accessory rail slot along the sides. I have included a picture to show the side profile of the accessory rail, and the slot in the table is a square-bottomed version of the same (more pictures are available in that person's album on Flickr). I am assuming that, for this design spec, I would do best to focus on strength (modulus of elasticity) over hardness.

That being said, what species of wood would you choose for this project? I'm thinking best bang for the buck, looking primarily at strength and cost.
Also, if the depth of the slot were primarily 3/8",3/8", with a 3/16"ish keyhole slotted into the top edge, would a 1x6 likely hold up, or should I upsize it to 2x6?

Cup Holder (detail) by Samuel McConnell, on Flickr
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I really do not understand your question. You do not say just unique aspects of your design require strength out of the ordinary.

Most of the "furniture grade" hardwoods have the strength needed for most furniture projects. Woods are primarily selected for the look that the builder wants to achieve. My personal choice for just an "everyday" project would be oak. For an exceptional look I go for black walnut. There are many combinations depending upon what you want the project to look like.

Need sketch of the application to know if your slots will hold up.

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Your question is largely a personal choice thing. What kind of wood is your other furnishings made of? This may be the main issue. Suppose you made a table out of maple and the chairs you will use with the table are made of walnut. You might want to choose a wood and finish that goes with your other furnishings.
I think I may be going way overboard with that "joint" setup. After further review, I don't see that rail system being used to support anything bigger than a cup holder. I was looking to make a 12" x 24" desk to support a 1" thick book and some light writing.
Google Photos - Table mock up

I believe I will have to go back to the drawing board on this design. As for appearance and why I was not concerned -- this is the only wooden thing in my stainless and black kitchen, so I was likely to stain it black anyway.

My biggest design concerns are regarding maximum usable space with minimum footprint. This gaming table (as indicated in the link above) houses a 48" class LED TV. My players and I (five of us total) gather around the table playing D&D. We each use books no more than 1" thick (8.5" x 11.5") and standard letter-sized paper. I will also have to have room for some form of dice-tray. I may try to see if I can utilize more vertical space or possibly put drawers in it.

My current table is roughly 5' x 6' and that makes it difficult to move the figures around the TV from time to time.

Thanks for the vote for oak. That was my default choice due to availability.
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Sounds like a fun project. I agree with most of the comments others have made and that just about any hardwood would serve the purpose. My choice would be cherry or walnut.

On the terminology side, I should mention that modulus of elasticity is a measure of stiffness not strength.

Hope you'll post pictures as the project goes forward.
Make it out of Pecan. Pecan finishes out nice, it's very hard and usually less expensive than oak or maple.
Make it out of Hickory

Hickory is very strong and very hard. It has a great look also. I made some cabinet frames from it and was very impressed. You will need sharp saw blades. :wink2:
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