Setting up a massage business can be very costly, particularly as the table alone can cost several hundred dollars. There is an alternative to buying one, and that’s finding out how to build a massage table. It’s easy and most people who do their own DIY will be able to do it in their spare time.
You will, of course, need to be able to use woodworking tools, but a sharp eye and a steady hand will help you along the way.
A massage table
Of course, the type of table you need will largely depend on the type of massage you want to give. Some massages, such as Shiatsu, simply need a mattress on the floor with some comfortable coverings and room to move around.
A Swedish massage requires a hard surface, which is covered with foam and material to make it more comfortable to lie on. It must be very sturdy so it can hold the weight of a fully grown adult and it must be the right height to allow the practitioner to give the massage in the right position. If it’s too low, they will need to bend forward too far, and too high they will be using the wrong muscles themselves to give the massage. The hardest part about making a massage table is making the hole at one end for the head to rest in.
A massage table may take a little time to build but with a bit of patience and perseverance, it can be done. Here’s a step by step guide.
Build your own massage table
As with all DIY projects, make sure you have all the necessary safety procedures in place. Always wear eye protection and if you are using power tools, wear a breathing mask and do not plug them in until you are ready to use them. Gloves can help protect your hands as well
To make a table you will need:
- Plywood: 60 inches x 72 inches for the table top
- Two x four wood for the legs
- Wood glue
- Foam padding to cover the plywood (72” x 60”)
- Cloth or vinyl, at least 78”x 66”. Vinyl works best as this will be the surface of the table.
You will also need work tools which are usually part of a DIY tool set. These include:
- A measuring tape
- Circular saw or table saw
- Miter saw
- Wood glue and staples
First of all read to the instructions to prepare yourself for what you need to do and when you are ready – let’s go!
- The first thing you need to do is use a circular or table saw and saw the plywood in half along the long end. You will end up with two pieces of plywood, both 60” x 72” in size. These will be the surface of the table.
- Having created two pieces of plywood, stick them together with your wood glue. Always take the time to make sure that the edges and sides much up so that there are no sharp edges. Press the pieces together hard and then wait for the glue to dry. Ideally you should wait at least 24 hours before going onto the next stage.
- When the wood is dry, you can cut the corners in to a rounded shape if you want to. This isn’t essential but it does mean the practitioner won’t catch themselves on the edge.
- Now comes the tricky part and depending on your expertise, you may need to get help. You need to create the hole in the head end of the table.
- Measure about 4 to 5 inches in from the edge of the table then draw an oval approximately 8 inches wide and 12 inches long. This should be as close to the centre of the table as you can get it. Remember this is where the face will fit through so don’t be tempted to draw a circle instead.
- When you have drawn your oval, you need to cut it out. The best way to do this is to use something like a miter saw. When this is done, you now have the top for the table.
- Now make the legs for your table so that attaching them doesn’t interfere with adding the foam or vinyl. You will need four pieces of two by four timber, all the same length and shape. The ideal height of the table should be the same height as the wrist of the practitioner. They should stand up straight and relaxed and the correct distance should be measured from the wrist to the floor, minus the width of the table.
- When you have the legs cut you need to make the braces for the legs. To make these make a small mark 6 inches down each leg. Then mark again about 6 inches from the end, on the long side of the table. Now measure the distance between the two. You need 4 pieces of two by four this length to act as your braces. When they are ready, each end needs to be cut to an angle of 45° so that they will lie flat against the legs and the top of the table. Before cutting make sure you line them up and cut them the right way.
- Drill pilot holes through the table to attach the braces and more pilot holes to attach the legs. Do this using 4 inch wood screws.
- Take your vinyl or cloth and find a surface to lay this out flat. Place your tabletop on top of this and mark out on the vinyl where the hole on the table will be. You will need to cut this out but when you do, don’t forget to leave space for the vinyl to overlap the edge of the table. If you prefer you can simply cut an ‘X’ shape across the vinyl where the hole will be.
- Then place your tabletop on top of your foam and again mark out where the head space will be. If you prefer, you can again cut an ‘X’ shape as both the vinyl and foam will be folded under the table.
- Now lay your foam on top of the vinyl. Ideally the vinyl should overlap the foam on all sides by approximately 6 inches. When this is lined up take your table top and place it in the middle.
- Now you need to staple the vinyl onto the back of your table. Fold the vinyl over on one edge and staple it to the bottom of the table, approximately 4 to 5 inches apart. With one edge in place move to the opposite side and staple the vinyl on that side. Pull the vinyl slightly as you go so that it stretches just enough to squeeze the foam but not enough to squash it flat. Staple the two remaining ends.
- Now you need to cover face hole. You may find it easier to cut the vinyl into ‘V’ shapes as you pull it through the hole to staple it. The foam should squeeze slightly over the table as you pull the vinyl through to create a comfortable place for the space to rest.
- If you want you can then cover the vinyl with cloth but if you are using oils for your massage the cloth may soak these up. Vinyl is a good surface as it is easy to clean after each patient.
Massage table for your own use
Of course, not everyone needs to make an actual table. If you are looking for something to use at home for your own use, you don’t want a big table which is going to take up a lot of room.
The most obvious place to carry out a massage is on a bed. This will provide room for anyone to lie down and also room for the person giving the massage to move around. If you use a bed, always put towels on it to soak up any oils you may use.
Some people have also used a table, but it must be strong enough to hold the weight of an adult. Not all tables are suitable for this so exercise caution and test the table before you use it.
The biggest problem when giving a massage at home is how to create the space for the head. It’s important that this lies flat, and resting it on pillows will affect the shape of the spine. One method is to use rolled towels but always remember to allow a gap at the bottom so the person receiving the massage can breathe. A travel cushion works well too, as long as it is raised to the right level to allow the persons head to sit comfortably.
You can also buy portable massage head rests so if you think you will be giving or receiving a few massages at home, it might be an idea to invest in one of these.
If you’re struggling and need some guidance, here’s a video that helped me loads!