Building a Tornado clone

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Building a Tornado clone
« on: July 15, 2014, 11:19:42 PM »
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forums but I've been talking with Jim about buying some parts to build my own foosball table.  There's a guide to build your own table here (though I had to find an archived version which had the pictures) where I've figured out my dimensions and have made a set of plans.

I have my own CNC machine so I'm going to be cutting nearly all of the parts out of 3/4" plywood using the CNC so that everything is the exact shape and size.  Even holes for bolts will be cut using the CNC.

I think I have everything figured out with the exception of the ball return.  I just haven't got to that part of the design yet but It doesn't look hard.  Also one last piece is a sheet of plywood in the middle of the table.  I wanted to ask all of the experienced players out there if there's anything I should be aware of when trying to build one.  Maybe something I wouldn't expect.

I used to play quite a bit of foosball in university on Cyclone tables and even played in a few tournaments.  I haven't played for some time now but I now run a poker league and thought it would be a nice addition to the club for something to do during breaks and anyone who's out early.  I also build poker tables for a living and want to expand into foosball tables so I think being able to offer a high quality foosball table for around $1k is a good deal.  With my CNC I'd also be able to personalize each table. 

Here's the list of parts I think I need to buy:
Qty   Description
16   Bearing - thin wall (set of 2)
2   5 man rod
2   3 man offensive rod
2   2 man rod
2   3 man goalie rod
13   black players
13   yellow players
12   foosballs
8   handles - plastic
16   bumpers
34   roll pins
1   roll pin punch
1   2 oz. silicone
1   bearing wrench
2   score sets
4   Floor levelers
4   Leg leveler plate

Here's some plans

And all of the pieces I need to cut:

Offline alaskan thunder

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Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 03:11:04 AM »
Good luck. Take lots of pics and keep us updated.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 03:11:11 PM »
I didn't get anyone telling me I was on the wrong path so I went ahead and ordered all of the parts with a lot of help from Jim.  He pointed me in the right direction and this thing will be under way soon.

I'm likely going to build the whole thing out of MDF and veneer the sides.  I might give the whole thing a coat of waterproofing so that nothing swells from moisture over time. 

Offline papafoos

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Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 06:38:07 PM »
Try to contact Jack Cole.  He worked for Tornado for several years.  He may be able to help you out and might even have plans.  I think his screen name is Proctophobia.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 04:17:42 PM »
Does anyone know if the inside walls of the table are painted white or if they're laminated?

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 05:17:06 PM »
Their laminated.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 05:18:07 PM by Foozin »

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 07:13:49 PM »
Thanks.  White laminate goes on the shopping list.

Offline papafoos

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Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 09:03:51 PM »
From a monetary viewpoint, you would probably come out cheaper with a used tornado.  But as a hobby project, I think it would be great if you like doing this kind of stuff.  My expertise is limited to birdhouses and wooden fences.

Oh, and there is also laminate on the ball ramp.  (helps with spills that get into the goals)

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 11:41:28 PM »
I would agree, but I haven't been able to find anyone local to me who is selling a Tornado table.  Plenty of foosball tables, but none of any good quality other than a Shelti I saw on my local craigslist a few weeks ago.  I prefer Tornado over Shelti though. 

This is a bit of a project more than anything, but I would also like to be able to build them for sale too.  If I can make my own rods it should cut down on some of the costs. 

I think I will make the ball ramps out of plywood rather than MDF for that specific reason.  I'll be using MDF for the rest of it though since that's what Tornado uses.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2014, 09:58:33 AM »
I think if you are going to go to all that time and trouble you should use something better than mdf and veneer. Go for a solid hardwood outer cabinet. Wouldn't have to be anything exotic...maybe maple?

What were you planning on using for the inside sidewalls and goals? Plywood with laminate is a good option. Fireball uses a product called 'compact board' aka phenolic. Will never chip, shrink or warp.

You say that you'll use mdf because that is what Tornado uses, but ask the old pros and they will tell you that the goals often blow out on Tornados. Also they can have dead spots on the end walls and the bearing holes can get wallowed out.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 05:34:15 PM »
I was originally going to go with plywood, but plywood is actually under 3/4" thick which would give me problems with my bearings.  Also, mdf is heavier than plywood which I thought would help with stability.  I might take your advice and go with solid wood.  It would definitely last the test of time better than plywood or MDF.  Here in Vancouver, it's easy to get lots of different types of woods. 

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 06:13:54 PM »
MDF and particle board have an advantage over plywood in that they are manufactured to be very flat and because the wood fibers are in lots of different orientations, they tend to stay flat. Plywood can warp. That said, MDF soaks up water like a sponge, but a lot of this can be avoided if the MDF is covered in laminate.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 06:25:16 PM by kgstewar »

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 10:47:21 PM »
I forgot to mention Baltic birch plywood. This is a special type of plywood made using hardwood and high grade adhesive, sometimes impregnated with resin. It looks pretty nice, too. You might be able to get away with not laminating the outer cabinet if you used this stuff. Very dimensionally stable and good holding strength for screws.

Speaking of screws, I don't know if you gave any thought to fasteners, but a pocket hole jig like a Kreg jig works pretty well. Professional cabinetmakers actually use them, and they are fairly reasonable to buy.,d.c2E

I know the sidewall width has to be 1 1/2" or more. If you are a little shy I think you could come up with spacers pretty easily to fit on the outside of the cabinet.

I made a table last year. It turned out pretty well, but my only regret was I wished I had used better materials.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2014, 02:16:36 AM »
Considering you may make a few of these things for sale, I would recommend considering a split bearing design where the handles and rods pass thru the wall for quick bar changes;  Just like fireball.  Warrior has a unique quick change system as well.  Obviously, choosing a different bearing type has a number of implications related to drill pattern, bar diameter, wall bumper spacing, men to men spacing, and rod length.

There is a number of reasons you would want this.  Personally, I like that you can place the table in more places in your home if the bars come out, you can move the table more easily outside in the summer,  tornado men sometimes break / changing them is annoying, bars can be swapped to simulate other tables.

In Vancouver, you can find used tornado coin tables... you just need to search craigslist more frequently.  You may need to drive as far as Portland but tables list all the time.  I've been watching two coins for a week at $600 and $800 USD.  I would recommend spending your time restoring an arcade classic rather than reworking MDF to meet the tolerances required for an excellent table.

Re: Building a Tornado clone
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 02:26:04 AM »
I do have a kerf jig which I was going to utilize in the build.

Spacers might be a good idea rather than using MDF.  I would like to stay away from it if possible, just because of the swelling issues as well as the fact that it can chip over time.  I could go with Baltic Birch, though at $80/sheet and needing 2 sheets for this build the price is getting pretty hefty.  I was hoping to use leftover plywood that I have piled up though it's imported birch with a poplar core.  It's not as straight as BB would be, but once laminated 2 sheets thick I think it would straighten out pretty good.  I would also try to use the straightest boards I could find.

I haven't been searching CL for very long for a foosball table, but I do once in a blue moon.  It's rare to find a Tornado table pop up locally for a decent price.  I'm not sure if I'd want to drive down to Portland to get one, but then again if it's in good condition and will save me a lot of money down the road it might be a good idea and just resell them locally. 

I did purchase the split bearings for this build.  I assume this is what you're talking about.  That way with the bearing wrench I would be able to remove the bearings and bars.