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make your own rollaway puzzle table

From Habitat magazine - issue 34, step by step

This clever table coasts on castors so that you can easily tuck it beneath your sofa.

Make a puzzle table
Wall in Resene Hermitage, floor in Resene Destiny, DIY puzzle/game table in Resene Coast with sunken compartment in Resene Half Jumbo, side table in Resene Coast, plant pot in Resene Destiny, large vase in Resene Half Jumbo and tiny vase in Resene Hermitage. Sofa from Contempa, puzzle by Emma BassTip: Use Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel on furniture projects for a durable finish that is easy to wipe clean.  Note: This handy sunken compartment can hold spare puzzle pieces or dice.

You will need:

  • 1 sheet 18mm thick non-structural plywood cut to size – ours was 1200mm x 800mm
  • Shallow bamboo desk or bathroom tray
  • 4 x rubber wheeled castors with brakes
  • 12 x 15mm long wood screws
  • Ruler and/or measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Jig saw
  • Power drill and bits
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Wood glue
  • Palm sander or sanding block
  • Cloth
  • 100mm mini roller with tray
  • 2 x 100mm smooth surface mini roller sleeves
  • Resene testpot brush
  • Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat
  • Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel tinted to your choice of colour – we used Resene Coast
  • Resene testpot in your choice of colour – we used Resene Half Jumbo


Step 1:  Measure the distance between the bottom of your sofa and the floor (vertical clearance), as well as the distance between your front two sofa legs (horizontal clearance) and between your front and back sofa legs (depth). Our sofa has a vertical clearance of 100mm, a horizontal clearance of 2000mm and a depth of 920mm, so we decided to make our table 1200mm x 800mm so that it was big enough for a 2000 piece puzzle. However, you may need to adjust the dimensions if your sofa is shorter or shallower. If your sofa's vertical clearance is lower, you may need to choose shorter castors or adjust the design of your project accordingly.

Step 2 (optional):  Using a power drill and a jig saw, cut a 260mm x 100mm opening near the bottom right corner of your table. Be sure the bottom left corner of your opening is at least 150mm from the bottom and left side of your table so that your castors and brakes will have enough room to rotate.

Step 1Step one

Step 2Step two

Step 3Step three

Step 3:  Patch any flaws in the surface of your plywood using wood filler and a putty knife then allow it to dry. Using a palm sander and sandpaper or a sanding block, smooth all surfaces and cut edges then wipe all surfaces free from sawdust using a clean dry cloth.

Step 4:  Prime all surfaces of your plywood and tray using Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat with a mini roller. Allow the primer to dry fully before moving on.

Step 3 continued
Step three contd.

Step 4
Step four

Step 4
Step four contd.

Step 5:  Paint your plywood using two coats of Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in your choice of colour. We used Resene Coast. Allow your first coat to dry before applying the second.

Step 6 (optional):  While your plywood is drying, paint your tray using a Resene testpot in your choice of colour in two coats. We used Resene Half Jumbo. Allow your first coat to dry before applying the second.

Step 7:  On the underside of your plywood, measure 100mm vertically and horizontally in from each side and lightly mark where they meet with a pencil. These marks will be where the outer corner of your castors will be placed.

Step 5
Step five

Step 6
Step six

Step 7
Step seven

Step 8:  Use a pencil to mark where each screw hole is. Drill shallow pilot holes where you've made your pencil marks no more than 10mm deep, then attach castors with 15mm long wood screws.

Step 9 (optional):  Apply wood glue around the top edges of your painted tray and adhere it to the underside of your plywood centred over the cut opening. Stack heavy books on top to weigh it down while the glue dries.

Optional:  Remove legs from an old TV tray table or card table and attach these to the bottom of your puzzle/game table.

Step 8
Step eight

Step 8 continued
Step eight contd.

Step 9 continued
Step nine

Step 8Step nine contd.

A handy sunken compartment This handy sunken compartment can hold spare puzzle pieces or dice.

Video: For a video on how to make this puzzle table, visit

Top tip: If you want to work on your puzzle higher up, simply lock the wheels and place it on top of a table or bench. Whenever you need a break, place your puzzle table back on the floor, unlock the wheels and roll it back under your sofa or create folding legs that tuck away when stored.

project and styling: Laura Lynn Johnston
images: Bryce Carleton, Ben Whorwood


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