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Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 9th, 2010, 1:17 pm
by erdnasephile

I have used and loved one of the original Tabman tables (Ammar Style). It's great for times when there is an existing table to set it upon.

However, I would like to acquire a table that I can travel with that would also be suitable for parlour gigs. I would like a surface at least as large as the Tabman table.

I've thought about just getting a P & L type table base and screwing the Tabman table on top, but I find the wood/chrome contrast not to my liking.

The ideal table I've found was the Jim Zee table (portable); however, he told me he does not make them anymore. The School for Scoundrels table looks interesting, but when it's at it's full high, the stand seems to appear off center. I've thought about the Tabman Convertable, but it is out of my price range.

Does anyone have any suggestions Re: tables you've owned and used?

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 9th, 2010, 3:25 pm
by IrishMagicNews
The table top space might be a little small for what you want but have a look here and here

I use these as my front table all the time. These tables are very light and you can as an optional extra order a larger surface top.


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 9th, 2010, 3:30 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Have you seen Jim Steinmeyer's new suitcase to table?
Look here and scroll down:

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 9th, 2010, 3:38 pm
by SteveP
I had a Jim Zee table, but found it to be too large & heavy. his tables also had to be tightened occasionally.

These days I've been using a hardwood tray stand from a restaurant supply house, similar to this one:

I made a table top that locks into place on top of the stand. The two pieces can travel together with an idea I saw on Gazzo's table (described on his Cups & Balls DVD).

He takes two "L" brackets and fastens them to each leg on one side. Place them low enough so that you can place the table top on them. They sit on the brackets and held against the legs with a small bungee cord.

Gazzo also uses a tray stand. When you look at a Jim Zee table, they just look like large restaurant tray stands. Sure there is some pretty woodwork, but the design of the legs is the same.

Tray stands are inexpensive and they are built to last. Many are hardwood and designed to be abused much more than what we use them for. The one I use is similar to the one in the photo I linked to. It has a double brace on the legs and is very stable.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 9th, 2010, 10:18 pm
by Travis
Heed Richard's advice and check out Jim Steinmeyer's new table. It's fantastic.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 10th, 2010, 9:01 am
by SteveP
The Steinmeyer table is a better alternative to the traditional suitcase tables. It doesn't look as bulky, much more attractive.

Do you need to be able to work out of the table or just on the table? If you have limited props, like cards, coins, etc. then that style of table may be too much and you just need something attractive to work off of. However if you've also carrying a small case to hold your props, then Steinmeyer's table can eliminate the case. One less thing to carry is always an advantage!

The tables that Brendan recommended above are also easily made on your own. They are just cymbal stands and can be bought at any music store. Any hardware store can supply you with a fitting to attach to the end of the stand that will fit the flange under your table top.

Another set up for you, although the working surface may be too small, is attaching a case to one of the cymbal stands. If you don't want to go with a briefcase, you can get utility cases at Home Depot for about $25. They're sturdy. You can see something similar here at Abbott's:

Another resource for you to consider is at PenguinMagic:

Go Pro with Tom Krzystof: Tables, Cases and Gear, it's a two volume download for only $24.95

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 10th, 2010, 10:25 am
by erdnasephile
Thanks to all for your input. While the Steinmeyer table is well designed and clever, Steve nailed it--I work from my pockets mostly, and I just needed an attractive table to work on in those hybrid close-up/parlor situations. (for example, if I wanted to do a standup cups and balls routine). The Steinmeyer table would be more "boxy" than what I'm looking for.

I really like the Gazzo idea--the wood my Tabman table (TT) is made out of is Oak with a cherry stain, so finding a wood table stand should be pretty easy, and the L brackets would hopefully make it adjustable enough to allow me to fit it snugly into the bottom of the TT. In fact, if I drill holes in the L brackets, the little legs on the bottom of the TT would serve to hold things in place. I would just have to find the right sized restaurant stand. How tall is yours, Steve?

I did think about using a music trap stand, but I just don't like that chrome/metal look with the wood of the Tabman table.


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 10th, 2010, 10:55 am
by SteveP
My table height is 32"

The dimensions of the table top is 20 1/2" X 24 1/2"

One of the features that attracted me to the Jim Zee table was the height and that it can go 36". I'm 6', so at 36" I didn't have to lean over. But that's too high if you're going to have people sit at the table, which I do for one of my routines. So there's some compromise there.

Looking online you will see different tray stand heights, so if 31" or 32" is too low, you should be able to find something at least 34".

For me, the Jim Zee table was just too big. The table top was 36" x 24". That's a large table to carry around. John Mendoza has it now.

I think what Gazzo does with his L brackets are to bend them up at the end. So one end is screwed into the side of the stand on the legs, closer to the bottom. The part that sticks out was bent up at the end, almost like a small U. This way you're creating a channel for the table top to sit in. If you had four of them, two at the top and two at the bottom, you could then slide it in and it would secure the top to the legs when transporting it.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 10th, 2010, 12:54 pm
by David Alexander
My professional experience has both stage and strolling work, having cut my close-up teeth in restaurant work in the mid-to-late 1960s. I worked out of my pockets and stood rather than sat at the table.

In my non-restaurant strolling work I worked out of my pockets using a briefcase to restock my pockets when certain items ran low.

About 20 years ago I decided I wanted a nice surface because I wanted to perform material that needed a surface and I didnt want to work off the dining tables, if any, at the venue.

I took a piece of wood - 12 x 16 - and attached a pipe flange to the bottom. I spray painted the whole thing flat black. A professional upholsterer covered the top with a piece of high quality green felt with a bit of padding. I used a simple portable stand as a base. It folds up nicely.

Using this table, I learned, had unforeseen benefits. When I walk up to a small group of people they easily and naturally form a semi-circle around the table and I proceed from there. I found my work easier as crowd control was a natural function of people standing around a table at a certain distance. I had a perfect top to work off of and the presentation looked more professional. I dont think I have $100 involved in the whole project.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 10th, 2010, 5:12 pm
by George Olson
As I recall there is a remarkable table in the Wonder books, and here is a really nice one ... _id=111779

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 10:45 am
by erdnasephile
Thanks to all for your ideas--lots to think about here...

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 1:35 pm
by Terry

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 2:50 pm
by SteveP
I had one of the Tabman Cafe tables and initially had to return it to him because the way the thing went together was poorly designed. It was literally like a house of cards and would just completely fall apart. I sent him some notes for improving the stability and while it helped a little (it no longer just fell apart), it was still wobbly and a pain to put together. It's held together with dowel pins and rubber bands.

Tabby was just trying to make a table that was affordable, and I think initially was being marketed as a kit that could be improved upon.

But going back to what I posted earlier, this table, the Jim Zee table, the School for Scoundrels table have the same, basic tray stand design. They all look like restaurant tray stands. So why spend hundreds of dollars when you can get one that is made of hardwood and will last years for less than $30?

There are times that doing things "on the cheap" looks like you are. In this case it really doesn't matter. No one is going to see the inlay work on the Jim Zee table unless they're right on top of it.

A table doesn't need to be a work of art. It doesn't need to look like a magic prop. It's something practical that should just blend in. It has to be functional for you in terms of height, transporting, set-up and take down time.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 3:09 pm
by erdnasephile
The Busby Versa-Table was recommended to by a pro I really respect. Does anyone own one/seen one who can comment? Does anyone know if they are still available?

Many thanks to everyone!

PS: I hear what you and David are saying, Steve, and I respect it--odds are I'll probably go down the routes you both suggested, but I must admit, I am intrigued by some of the other possibilities out there.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 5:38 pm
by SteveP
I agree, I too am intrigued with some of the other tables as well. I'm always looking for something else.

You really just have to experiment to find what's going to work for you and your act. What I'm using now works great for me at this point, but as you can tell based on my posts, I've gone through a few tables over the past few years! My needs will probably change down the line.

I do two stand-up shows. My primary show is a mentalism show, which requires hardly any props. The magic show I do is definitely "packs flat, plays big". I work both shows out of a catalog case, which sits on a chair, behind the table.

When I'm in a banquet setting, I typically will request a table be provided. It blends in and becomes invisible.

But if I performed a different act and did Multiplying Bottles, Cube a Libre, and an arm chopper, etc., I would want a table similar to what Steinmeyer is selling. You need to be able to make the transitions between effects smooth and your table & case are critical to making that happen.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there may be some compromise involved. If you're doing Cups & Balls for example, my recommendation of the tray stand may not work for you if you're tall and leaning over is going to be a problem, so you may wind up going with something else because of that.

One of the tables I really love are the spider folding tables:

Nice clean, modern design. Packs flat, easy set up. But they are just a little too small for my needs.

I'll be interested to find out which way you go with this.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 11th, 2010, 6:33 pm
by David Alexander
I bought one of Mark Evans 10-Second Tables years ago...the open top model. I had him make a sliding top that covers about half the opening. The interior is covered with Velcro-compatible cloth. It is perfect for my needs. When I traveled it locked up nicely and was its own ATA case.

It is extremely practical. See:

I believe Mark made a thinner one for a time.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 12th, 2010, 8:29 pm
by erdnasephile
Thanks, guys--I'll check 'em out!

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 12th, 2010, 10:08 pm
by Edward
Can't you guys figure out how to build your own???


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 13th, 2010, 8:15 am
by SteveP
I guess you didn't read my posts where I explained how to put together your own using a restaurant tray stand.

Or how David Alexander explained how he made one for strolling situations.


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 20th, 2010, 10:03 am
by 000
Can anyone recommend the Malloy rolling sound stage?
Or is it insufficient for purposes of voice amplification and you end up with more speakers anyway?

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 22nd, 2010, 9:11 am
by SteveP
I've never seen (or heard) this table, so take my comments for what they're worth.

You have to imagine the types of shows you're going to do and if this table will meet your amplification needs. At just under $600.00 I would question the quality of the speakers and just how much amplification you're really going to get from them.

I would think that if you were doing a lot of small shows, b-day parties, retirement communities, private events for about 50 or so people, then it's probably fine. Beyond that, I would wonder about it.

Based on the description it only looks like the sound input is for a music player and not for a microphone. For a couple of hundred more, you can buy a Fender Passport system and have the capabilities of multiple microphones, music input and the ability to project to over 500 people depending on the system you choose.

$600 seems a lot for not much of a table and the speaker quality of what probably equals a boom box.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 23rd, 2010, 9:07 am
by 000
Thanks Steve. The price tag, and fear that it could sound like a boom box have witheld me from purchasing. Unless of course someone owns one and says it aint so.

Someone with amplification knowledge I surmise would be able to look at the specs of the Molloy speakers and offer an opinion. You get some amazing sound from small speakers these days.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 23rd, 2010, 1:49 pm
by David Alexander
I have not used that speaker/table that's being described but I would think the inherent flaw in a table with speakers would be the muffling of sound whenever the performer or spectators stepped in front of the table.

Years ago I bought a small battery-powered speaker/amplifier with two channels - a Maxi-Mouse. It sits on the side with my wireless mic plugged in and works fine. It is more than enough for 300 people in a mid-sized hotel banquet room. The device was less than $400 when I bought it. Unfortunately, the Maxi-Mouse isn't made any more.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 4:55 am
by Jamie D. Grant
Here's the table that Thomas Clark made for me:


You can also see it in action here:

My Best,


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 9:47 am
by erdnasephile
Hi, Jamie:

That's awesome--that may be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for the lead!

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: September 25th, 2010, 9:03 pm
by David Alexander
The Harbin-style tables I've seen and owned always seemed a bit "rickety."

Jamie's builder seems to have solved that problem.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: October 2nd, 2010, 9:32 am
by Nicholas Carifo
Above, Steve mentions his past experience with a particular Tabman Table, apparantly not being study. I do not own the table in question, however, for anyone interested, I was speaking the other day to Ray Witkowski, the new owner of the Tabman Tables line for the past few years who does a fantastic Job with Tabby's designs, as well as his own.

I mentioned this thread and he understands Steve's past problems, and informed me that they no longer manufacture the Table in the manner with the dowels and stretch bands, and have solved the stability problems with a new design.

I'm sure Ray would be happy to elaborate for anyone interested. He's not a member of the Genii Forum, but you can reach him thru the website:

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: October 3rd, 2010, 8:08 am
by MagicSaxPro
Thanks Jamie for mentioning the table that I made for you....the photo you posted has changed due to the nature that I am always updating different things on my site (so you must have linked directly from my site - sorry about that *haha*). The type of table I make is the Harbin style fold up table, but made several changes to it to make it sturdy, as David Alexander mentioned. Without certain aspects added to the tables, they are quite 'shaky', but a little innovation corrected that issue. Mine are made of wood (different thicknesses can be used depending on the use by the user). I actually use mine to hold my PD 150 sound system, so they are pretty sturdy and strong.
There are plenty of different types of tables out there, though, and depending on what you are doing will decided which table will work best for you. We have a magician here in this area with a Tabman type table, but he modified it and has been using it for years. Still looks good too with a large workable surface.
I can make the fold up tables to spec too, so they can come in different sizes, etc... Anyhow, Thanks again Jamie for mentioning the table, and nice video by the way!!

-Thomas ... e10_61.jpg

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: November 19th, 2010, 10:27 pm
by MagicAlaskan
Edward: Can't you find another thread?


Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 2:00 pm
by erdnasephile
Follow up on this thread. I did end up getting a custom-sized Harbin-style table from Thomas. He really has worked out all the bugs and added 2 unique features in particular to tighten up the table. Nice and sturdy, large performing area, and folds up in an instant. He even created a padded bag with shoulder strap for it.

I ended up pairing it with a close-up mat from Pattrick Przsiecki that dropped into the surface of the table perfectly.

Both men provided great customer service, rapid communication, and fair prices. Thomas even provided tons of in-progress pictures and updates. I highly recommend both products!

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: December 27th, 2010, 2:27 am
by hagemagic
I realize you have already found a table, but here are some tables I designed and built. I only made 7 of them and there's one left. If you're interested just let me know. If there's enough interest I may make some more.

These are the type that you sit on top of an existing table. The surface is 16x20, tilts, has a built in servante, coin slots, and a hidden magnetic closure. I posted pictures on photobucket. the password is tables.

Re: Recommended portable table?

Posted: January 24th, 2011, 1:17 pm
by SteveP
I followed erdnasephile and also bought the Harbin-style table from Thomas and have nothing but great things to say about it. Easy up, easy down. The table is solid and you're confident using it.

Thomas is great to work with. He gives you a lot of customization options and as previously posted, keeps you in the loop as the table progresses with photos at every step.

Well worth the money!