I decided to make a Foosball table after I broke my son’s mini Foosball table which he received as a birthday present. I was probably too enthusiastic in turning the striker rod at my end that I ended up bending it to my son’s disappointment. That was about six months ago and I made it a point to make one that is a pleasure to play with. To factor things in, I had started playing Foosball back in 2004 while in Bayarea (Silicon valley) on a Tornado classic table along with very competent team members. Not the kind of start one would prefer especially learning a game as you would be thrashed by the opponents.
Nevertheless, it was a great learning experience and I got better with the striker pull-shots and after a lot of practice my wrists got tuned to ball control. In the decade and a half in between, I didn’t get much practice on Tornado tables and had to settle with available ones at work place. It was never a consistent experience. With all this in mind, I thought I should build a table under AU$150 and hope that it offers a good experience for me and my son. More importantly, it would be a two person table as opposed to the usual four person table. This was primarily considered as it would be hard to find four persons at any point in time while at home. So, I decided to go with 6 rows of players (with 3 rows representing a team). Three players on the defence line, four players on mid-field and two on the forward (strike) line.
You can always start with a sketch and rough measurements around the standard 5/8 (16 mm) Foosball players and rod. But it requires refinement after few trials and errors. Be prepared to waste one or more wood sections to get the final product to work as desired.
I ordered the 5/8 Foosball players, associated screws and nuts, end cap on the rod from Aliexpress. This meant, the items would be shipped from China and one can set aside 4 to 6 weeks for delivery and in some instances can be up to 8 weeks. The total cost of items ordered through Aliexpress summed up to AU$ 52.
In the meantime, I purchased the following items from Bunnings:
6 x 1 metre 16 mm aluminium rod = AU$24
5.4 metre 110 mm x 18 mm Primed Pine (they don’t come in shorter lengths) = AU$ 29
1200 mm x 596 mm x 12 mm Plywood = AU$ 24
10 x Pryda mini brackets(to hold the side-wall and table base together) = AU$ 4
Green spray paint = AU$ 9
7G 12 mm timber screws pack of 100 = AU $6
8 metre 100 mm x 10 mm Foam adhesive roll (for rod handles) = AU$ 5
Your cost might vary from mine as you might have to purchase few extra 7G 30 or 35 mm timber screws and 8 mm dowel (for dowel joints) to join the side walls at 90 degrees. You can purchase a 200 ml acrylic white paint (for the lines) at AU$ 5 or less.
It is an assumption that you have the required tools to build a DIY Foosball table. I used a carpenter’s square, 30 cm metal ruler, pencil, eraser, hammer, centre punch, driller with 4 mm, 5 mm, 16 mm and 19 mm drill bits (which can drill in to metal/wood), Philips screw head bit and others.
Sometimes, you have to be creative to keep the costs down. I ended up expanding the centre-hole of rubber door-stop (36 mm) and hack-sawing two of them to extract 12 rubber washers out of it (6 each). It ended up saving costs overruns. The 10 mm thickness foam with electrical tape on it might not be a good finish — alternatively you can try something else. I would suggest buying 8 piece 5/8 rubber grips from Aliexpress or e-bay or Amazon.
In my case the total costs added up to AU$ 160 (AU$ 10 over my initial expected budget of AU$ 150). In the end, I had a satisfactory result.
- Opt for Plywood and primed pine for the durability over MDF boards. It might cost you a bit extra but it is worth the price
- I ended up re-doing the sidewalls due to mis-alignment of Foosball rod bearings. I later realised they are more of a head-ache than panacea. It costed me an extra AU $17 to buy a 2.4 metre primed pine section and I didn’t bother to use the sidewall bearings. This allowed for smooth movement of the Foosball rod in both axis.
- Centre-punch the Foosball rods before drilling the Foosball player screw holes to prevent slippage during drilling. Ensure precision to avoid pain aligning players in a row.
- The minimum advisable height of Foosball player from the table is 8 mm to 10 mm. The inter-player distance should be at least 145 mm.
- The ideal ball size is 34 to 35 mm and go for a Tornado ball as it might offer better roundness, grip and less playing noise. The cheaper plastic variants might be loud and not be perfectly round.
- Always pre-drill holes in the wood to prevent splitting of wood when screwing in screws.
- You can opt to use a mini bracket to join the sidewalls at 90 degrees. I preferred to use dowel joint. One has to be precise when using dowel joint and I did an OK job (not perfect). So, go with something you are comfortable with.