Ping pong is enjoyed worldwide by casual hobbyists and professional table tennis players. While a professional table will cost you a decent amount of money (around £520 or more as of 2009), you can craft your own ping pong table for much cheaper (as low as £45). To make the best table, consider your intended use. If you wish to train for competitive table tennis stick to the specifications of the International Table Tennis Federation. More casual players may wish to opt for less stringent requirements.
Professional ping pong tables are made from manufactured hardwood such as Masonite. While any old piece of rectangular wood may work for some people, avoid woods that yield too high or low a bounce if possible. ITTF rules specify that a ball dropped from 11.81 inches (30 centimetres) should bounce approximately 9.055 inches (23 centimetres) on first bounce. Go to your local hardware or home repair supply store and look for sheets of high- or medium-density wood. If you wish to conform to ITTF standards, bring a ping pong ball with you and test out the bounce of various pieces of wood. Keep in mind that your painted coating may add to or decrease your ball's bounce.
Use wood (such as 2x4's) or metal for your legs and frame. Your table will need eight legs (four outer legs and four inner legs). Additional wood or metal to connect the legs horizontally is also recommended. For your net, purchase a ping pong net kit from a sporting goods supply store or make your own out of string, cardboard or even masking tape. Finally, you will need paint for your table. Paint your table any colour you wish, although the most common colours are forest green and blue. In addition, you will need white paint for your lines/trim. Look for specific table tennis paint or any other type of low-friction coating.
Now that you know your basic materials, you will need your wood and net to conform to ping pong standards (unless you want to make an irregular ping pong table). According to ITTF rules, the professional table is a little less than 9 feet (107.87 inches) long by almost 5 feet wide (60.039 inches). Cut your wood into a perfect rectangle that adheres to these dimensions. Also note the thickness of your table. Since the standard ping pong table is 29.92 inches off the ground (or nearly 2.5 feet), make sure the wood for your legs takes into account the table's thickness. For instance, if your table is 2 inches thick, you will want wood that's 27.92 inches long for the legs. Your net should be 6 inches high and at least 6 inches longer than your table's width across.
Now that you have all your basic parts, construct your actual table. Attach legs and frame before you paint the table. To attach your legs, coat your legs with heavy-duty wood glue and then use L-brackets with screws or bolts to strengthen the bond. Use screws to connect your legs with horizontal wood supports. Before you attach anything with bolts, measure your table to make sure it's the proper height all around.
After you complete your frame, begin your paint job. Most table tennis paints are spray-on. Follow the paint's directions and use proper precautions. Apply two or three even coats. Once your paint dries, add your white trim around the entire perimeter of the table. Your white line should remain an even .787 inches (2 centimetres) wide. An additional line should extend from the midpoint of each end across the length of the table.
Once your paint dries, attach your net. If you purchase a professional net, it will come with brackets for attachment. For homemade nets, fit the ends of your net with a plastic or metal piece. The piece should cover the entire height of the net's end and be around 3 inches long. Use brackets or other suitable materials to clip the piece to the table. Even if you do not want to use a professional net, go to your local sporting goods store to see the range of brackets and screws included in professional net kits. After you attach your net, make sure it is taut and maintain a height of 6 inches.
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