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Table Hockey


Table Hockey

It's fast, it's wild--go for the goal!

By Randy Johnson

Looking for a great holiday gift project? This table hockey game is a blast to play, even for adults, and it’s so simple, you can make it even if your gift-building time is running short. It’s made from easy-to-get materials, and the finish is all water-based, so it goes on quickly. 

It’s basically a shallow box, made from 3/4-in. hardwood (we used oak) with a playing surface of 1/2-in. birch plywood. Add some small pieces of mesh fabric (available from a fabric store) for the goals, a couple of strategically placed goalie blocks, a pair of sticks and a puck, and you’re ready to play. Have fun! 

How to build it

1. Mill the end and side boards (B, C) to final size and cut the grooves for the bottom panel (A, Fig. A, below). 

2. Cut the rabbets in the end boards (Photo 1). Use an auxiliary wood fence so you can run your dado blade right next to it. This setup also allows the auxiliary fence to serve as a guide when you cut the rabbets. 

3. Cut out the opening for the goals using a jigsaw or scrollsaw (Photo 2). 

4. Glue and clamp together two layers of 3/4-in. lumber for the corner blocks (D). Wipe off any glue that squeezes out. When the glue is dry, rip the board to 3 in. wide for the corner blocks. Make the goalie blocks (E) the same way. 

5. Cut the corner blocks and goalie blocks to final size (Photo 3) using your miter saw or tablesaw. You’ll notice that the glued-up lumber stock is much longer than actually needed. This extra length gives you more to hold for safer mitering and crosscutting. Cut the net boards (F). 

6. Use your bandsaw or scrollsaw to saw the sticks (G) and pucks (H) from either oak lumber or birch plywood. Make a couple extra pucks, so you won’t have to take a time-out if a puck flies off the table and rolls under the couch.

7. Sand and finish all the parts. We used water-based stain, paint and finish (see Sources, below). Water-based finishes tend to raise the grain after they are applied, which makes a rough finish. To prevent this, raise the grain first with a moist sponge. After the wood dries, do your final sanding. Then apply the stain to all the parts. When the blue stain on the bottom panel is dry, tape off and paint the zone lines and center circle (Photo 4). Finally, brush on the clear topcoat finish.

8. Assemble the hockey table with screws and finish washers (Photo 5). Drill shank and pilot holes in the sides to prevent splitting the wood or stripping the screw heads. 

9. Attach the netting (J) over the goal openings with the net boards (F). The bottom net board goes inside the net and the top net board goes outside the net (Photo 6). Hold the netting in place with a bit of double-sided tape during assembly. You can substitute almost any kind of fabric for the netting, if you wish. 

10. Attach corner and goalie blocks (D, E) with screws from the bottom.

It’s game time! Go for the goal!

Table hockey rules

You can play table hockey two ways. The first is free play. Players start with the puck on the center circle and both hit it around until a goal is scored. The only limit is that a player may not play the puck within the goal zone of the other player (see Fig. A). If the puck flies off the table during play, return it to the center circle and resume playing. 

The second way to play is to take turns. Each player takes a predetermined number of shots. Two swings per player is common, but the exact number is up to you. You can handicap a better player by giving him or her fewer swings than a less experienced player. The entire rink area is open for play. If a puck is knocked off the table, it’s turned over to the other player, who then gets to take one additional shot during his or her turn. Of course, it’s also fun to make up your own rules! 


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Minwax (800) 523-9299, Available at home centers. Winter Sky water-based stain, $7 per quart Rose Wood water-based stain, $7 per quart Polycrylic water-based clear satin finish, $8 per quart.

Rust-Oleum (800) 553-8444 Apple red latex paint, $4 per half pint.

Cutting List

Project Requirements

Fig. A: Exploded View

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker November 2004, issue #111.

November 2004, issue #111

Purchase this back issue.

Click any image to view a larger version.

1. Cut rabbets in the end boards, so the corners are strong enough to take abuse. Use an auxiliary fence to protect the main fence from damage. A 1/2-in. groove at the bottom edge houses the plywood playing surface.

2. Saw goal openings with a jigsaw. Holes near each corner make starting the cuts and turning the corners easy. Smooth the inside of the goal opening with a file or sanding block. 

3. Cut the corner blocks from glued-up 3/4-in. boards. These blocks keep the puck from getting trapped in the corners and allow interesting bank shots. 

4. Finish all the parts before you assemble them. After the blue stain on the bottom panel is dry, tape off and paint the zone lines and the center circle.

5. Assemble the parts with flat head screws and finish washers. Finish washers provide extra bearing surface for the screw heads and don’t require countersinking. 

6. Attach the goal netting with the net boards and screws. Leave the net open on the sides to make it easy to retrieve the puck. You’re ready to play!