Behind the Scenes Series | Nautical Picnic Table | Installment 2 of 3

by Leigh Spiteri | Co- Owner, The Farm Mechanic

In the second installment of our first ever “behind the scenes” series, we’ll be taking a look at the custom drawers, the tile board game installation and the creation of the custom games pieces. But first, below is a quick reminder of the client’s “must-haves”.


Client’s Must-Haves

  • Picnic Style Tables for shore home to accommodate about 20 people – must be sturdy and able to take a beating
  • Base of table needs to be high enough to fit tall people
  • Nautical Themed
  • Family loves playing games, so oversized inlayed tile gameboards of choice
  • Drawers to keep game pieces in when not in use
  • Benches wide enough to accommodate heavier people, must tuck in under table when not in use and be sturdy enough for little kids to be able to stand on without tipping over
  • No metal hardware that will rust from the salty air


The Hidden Drawers
We built the 4 custom sized drawers at 20” x 37” x 3”D – large enough to house the oversized game pieces and streamlined to ensure they wouldn’t interfere with people sitting at the table. The drawers slide in either direction on the custom railing system we created so they’re able to be opened and closed on either side of the table. We installed hidden magnets for an easy closure lock.

Oversized Board Games
When developing the table design with our client, she wondered if we were able to do mosaic tilework because she didn’t see any kind of samples on our website. We were so glad she asked because we are able to do so many different applications – we just don’t always have requests to showcase the breadth of what we offer.

Our client selected Scrabble, Othello, Tic-Tac-Toe and Chess/Checkers. During the design phase, we create a detailed schematic of each game. There were a couple of things we had to take into consideration: scaling the games up to size to fit the tables and color matching each tile precisely. We sourced Italian Vitreous Glass Tiles which offers a vibrant and dynamic mosaic surface.

The process for Scrabble was the most lengthy for a couple of reasons. First, we took an enormous amount of time selecting the color of each and every tile to match as closely as possible to an actual scrabble board. We needed the boxes to represent the scoring system precisely to the game. Since the client was an avid Scrabble player, the scoring system was easily recognized based on the color – whether it was a triple word score, a double letter score, etc. We needed those tiles to come as close as possible so there would be no confusion. Secondly, we needed to ensure our mosaic tile board was configured exactly the way an actual Scrabble board is configured. With so many tiles, we triple checked, quadruple checked and checked again to match it exactly!

With so many little kids visiting every summer, the client wanted TIC-TAC-TOE. We went with color selections representative of the shore – blue, tan and white.

These games were mostly straightforward. We repeated the process of color selection and configuration for Othello, Chess and Checkers according to game specs.

Once the tables tops were built, it was time to get them ready for tile installation. You’ll remember, back at the beginning of the project, we measured out where each board would go. It was now time to break out the router. There were several considerations to keep in mind. We needed to ensure the outer grout lines were consistent in order to make sure the space around each board was even as possible. The depth was another painstaking endeavor – it needed to be just deep enough to allow room for the adhesive and tiles, but not too deep because the tiles would sink. These tiles are SMALL, so we’re talking a fraction of a centimeter of precision. In addition, it couldn’t be too deep because we wouldn’t want anything to puddle on top. Lastly, we sized the boards to be big and jaw -dropping, while still being able to be played comfortably. In order to accomplish all of this we created a jig to router the environment to make sure everything was even and we got to work.

With such oversized board games, we needed to customize the game pieces to fit properly. We commissioned an amazing craftsman to create the Scrabble Tiles to spec, he also built custom tile racks to hold the oversized tiles.

The chess pieces were carved by hand with the King standing at a whopping 6” tall! The checkers pieces were sourced from a checkers’ specialty company. We created the Othello pieces by painting 64 white wooden discs, 64 black wooden discs and then adhering them together for a clean and polished look.

Stay week, I’ll be wrapping up this project!

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