As real sports enthusiasts, we love to gather regularly with a big group of friends and spend a few hours playing pool or ping pong in the game room or man cave, or even sometimes on an outdoor ping pong table. This kind of activity is a very good way to practice our skills in both games and learn how to deal with all kinds of different shots and opponents. Since the group includes players of all ages and skill levels, it is also a great social event.
You might already have a nice pool table and you might be wondering how you can use it for ping pong as well. If you know how to use a few tools and you already have a pool table or billiards table that sits idle at times, you could easily turn it into a medium-size table tennis table by creating a DIY pool table dining top for the table. This could also be an option if you have a dining room table that is not being used very often.
Want to skip this work and buy a ping pong table top? Check out “7 Best Ping Pong Table Tops for Pool & Dining Tables“.
Be aware that a converted table like we are discussing here will not be a standard ping pong table that follows ITTF dimensions, but it will be a mini-sized table that can be fun to use for recreational purposes with your friends. To be honest, the dimensions of a full-size table are just too large for you to use a pool table as your base. Anyway, you will only really need a regulation-size table if you start becoming more of a professional table tennis player.
In this article, we’ll present a step-by-step guide that shows you how to make a mini-sized ping pong table and what you will need for the entire process. If you follow each step carefully, we are sure that you will do a very good job of making your game table and being able to enjoy all kinds of gameplay with your friends.
Some Tools and Materials for a DIY Ping Pong Table
Even if you don’t already have all of the tools, you can find them at any local hardware shop or on Amazon. The wood will also be readily available at all lumber yards. This means you can pick up all the things you need at a pretty reasonable price. At the very least, you will be needing the following tools and materials to complete this job in a satisfactory way:
- Plywood or particle board
- Orbital Sander
- One 4 by 8 feet can of Plywood Stain, such as Minwax Dark Walnut and Weathered Oak
- Polyurethane, such as Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane
- Painters Tape
- Four quarter inch Wood Insert Lock Nuts
- Four quarter inch x half inch Coarse Thread Hex Bolts
- Two 5 inch Corner Brace
- One quarter inch Machine Screw
- One quarter inch Hex Nut
- One Can of Black Spray Paint (if you wish)
- Ping Pong Table Net (or you can make your own)
- Grip Tape
How to Make a Ping Pong Table Top for a Pool Table
Now that you have all of your tools and materials ready to go, you can get started with your actual table construction. Take a look at all of the basic steps below as you think about beginning your project. It is always easier to have everything neatly assembled before you start any DIY project.
Just keep in mind that you might need someone to help you through the process of creating your tabletop and also when you are moving it back and forth from the pool table to any other storage area. Lifting a four feet long piece of plywood can be a difficult job for a single person.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 1: Cut Your Plywood (or MDF)
Select a four-by-eight-foot piece of plywood that is at least 0.75 inches thick and get your local hardware store or Home Depot to cut this larger piece into two halves. Making sure that the plywood is the right length from the beginning of the DIY process can be a crucial first step that can save you hours and hours of extra work. You could also go with a medium-density fibreboard (MDF), which is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 2: Pre-Drill One Piece
Take one-half of each piece of plywood and pre-drill four holes to install the wood inserts. Right now, simply do the pre-drilling because you can install the inserts later. Make sure to keep the holes slightly smaller than the size of the inserts. To determine the exact placement for the holes, take one of the five-inch corner braces. Put it on the edge of the plywood and draw a mark for both the holes with a pencil or pen. Repeat the same process for the other side.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 3: Do Some Sanding
You’ll first need to make sure that all of your ping pong table dimensions are accurate, and then you can start the sanding process. This can be done with a drill, an orbital sander, or simply by hand in the old-fashioned way. If you have one, a random orbital sander Random orbital sanders combine the speed and aggressiveness of a belt sander will produce a finer finish than you will get from a standard, slow speed orbital finishing sander.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 4: Stain and Paint
Use stain for the table and spray paint for the hex bolts and the corner braces. For the top playing surface, you can use a single stripe in the middle of the table. Stain the whole tabletop and let it dry, then put a piece of tape along the center of the board. Staining both sides of the tape. When the stain dries out, simply remove the piece of tape and make sure the line is clean in the middle.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 5: Apply a Top Coat
Read the instructions on your polyurethane can and apply it as instructed. Simply apply a coat of polyurethane and then sand it off once the coat dries, and then apply a second coat of polyurethane. Use a good quality polyurethane so that you are able to achieve your desired consistency with only two coats. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to sand the surface between applying each coat.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 6: Install the Wood Inserts
To install the wooden inserts, take a threaded machine screw, place a hex nut on it, and insert these things into the wooden insert. Then position the hex nut flush with the wooden insert’s top and let the machine screw around halfway inside the wooden insert. Working in this way, screw all the wooden inserts into the holes that you pre-drilled earlier. Make sure the inserts are being screwed in straight and not tilted to the side.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 7: Apply the Grip Tape
Stick the grip tape on the downwards facing side of your tabletop. Keep in mind that this is the side that will actually touch your pool table. By applying grip tape, you will prevent potential scratches on your pool table that might occur when you place your ping pong top on the table. It also ensures that the ping pong top will stay in place. Be sure to put the grip tape along the edge of the plywood where it sits on the pool table’s rails.
DIY Ping Pong Table Top Step 8: Complete the Installation
By now, you have done most of the hardest work. It might be easier to assemble your DIY ping pong table than you think. You don’t need any extra tools. Just put your table tennis top on your pool table. Make sure your brackets are aligned with the wooden inserts and just screw the hex bolts in using your hands. Now simply put your net around your brackets and start enjoying a few good ping pong games.
After you finish playing, take the net out, unscrew the hex bolts and take out the brackets. Put all of these together in a box where you keep your ping pong paddles and balls to keep them all safe. The best thing about this conversation top is that it is quick and easy to set up and dismantle, so you can easily switch between the games of table tennis and pool whenever you want.
Plenty of Fun With Friends!
As an aspiring table tennis player, it can be a creative and rewarding experience to build your very own ping pong table. It can add a lot of fun to your gatherings with friends and family. It is a great way to bond with a group of kids too. While it can be a very good idea to convert your pool table into a ping pong table on your own, many times people start this job but don’t plan their work.
This can sometimes result in a substandard table even after hours of tiring work, which can be frustrating. On the other hand, a DIY project like converting your pool table into a ping pong table can be a lot of fun if you enjoy doing that kind of thing, and its sentimental value will be worth more than something you simply buy.
Another good idea would be to simply push your pool table against a wall and then lay a large piece of plywood or particle board on top of the table. Make sure that the wood is thick enough to allow for a good bounce of the ping pong ball. Then, you can set up a table tennis return board. This is a special board that you hit the ball against.
It will then bounce back to you if you are playing alone. This is another helpful way to improve your skills, and there is a wide collection of different types of return boards that are commercially available. You can even go online to learn how to make your own return board in addition to the indoor table, which could be a good idea if you are on a budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money.
A real return board can cost several hundred dollars, but you can also make your own by using a few cheaper materials from Home Depot or Amazon. Again, a few pieces of plywood, mdf, or particle board can really go a long way towards getting your project completed. Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses before diving into something you might be unable to finish.
The satisfaction that comes from finishing a DIY project can be well worth it because you can admire your handy work and enjoy your high-quality table as much as you like in your very own game room or man cave. But also keep in mind that the cost of a new ping pong table might not be much higher than it could turn out to be if you take on this DIY project.
Getting Double Use Out of Your Pool Table
With so many options available in the market, building a DIY ping pong table can get overwhelming if you set up too many criteria to meet. There are some of the best table tennis conversion tops and ping pong table conversion tops available in the market that could be a whole lot cheaper and easier than getting a whole new table.
You’ll probably find that these kits can also be more than satisfactory ways to convert your billiard table or pool table and start getting double use out of it. For example, the Joola tetra foldable indoor conversion top with foam backing could be an ideal option for converting your billiard table into a fully functioning table tennis table.
A set like this one comes with two separate halves and a net set and net posts for quick and easy construction. The conversion top is also quite easy to store away when you are not using it. Another option is the range of Martin Kilpatrick Conversion Table Tennis Tops.
These are available in grey, blue, and green, and they are also easy to install. Unlike a lot of other conversion tops, the Martin Kilpatrick range offers thick pieces of wood that provide excellent bounces for more competitive play. These Martin Kilpatrick tops really offer a lot of durability that you might not always find with other kits.
If you don’t really like any of these particular models, there are plenty of other types that you can choose from too, such as all of those made by Stiga. Check out each of the models to see which one gets the top reviews in terms of what you are looking for, and then you can place an order for that model. Many of these models will come with a year warranty or more, so you can enjoy peace of mind with your purchase.
Who doesn’t love the game of pool? Smashing the balls on the break, choosing your ball type, working out all the angles on your shots, and playing all kinds of chess-like matches against some of your best friends. These are all things that can be great fun for a few hours, or even for several days in a row.
But eventually, you are going to tire of the game of pool and it would be nice to have another type of game to play as well. This is where converting your pool table into a table tennis table comes in, so you can have a combo to really enjoy in your game room.