We have a game room in our basement with an 8'+ table from Ikea that we inherited from friends. We don't use the game room much so my plan was to get a piece of homasote, cover it with muslin and set the table legs up on cinder blocks to get some additional height. That way, if we needed the table again, I could just remove the homasote and cinderblocks.
When I did this in the 90s, I was living in Iowa and it was a simple matter of walking into Menards and buying a 4x8 sheet of homasote. Alas, this is Atlanta and we don't have Menards. No one in Home Depot had the slightest clue what I was talking about when I said I needed homasote and were so adamant about it not existing, I was beginning to question my own sanity. I ended up with a 4x8 sheet of 2" foam insulation, which the guy also swore we would never get home tied to the top of our car before it broke (because, of course, our station wagon apparently has a 47" opening not a 48".)
We did, indeed, get the foam (which was, oddly enough, a lovely shade of lavender) home with a minimum of damage (most of it incurred by the Lowe's guy that tied it to the roof in the first place). And Hobby Lobby had 90" muslin (which I didn't expect) so in under 2 hours, I had a cutting table that wouldn't kill my back, wouldn't scratch my dining room table AND I could stick pins into. Why didn't I do this years ago?
I have some reservations that the foam is going to end up disintegrating, from cat claws and tracing pattern marking, but I will deal with that when it happens. For now I am just happy to have a real cutting table.
4 yards 90" muslin: $34 (I could have cut that cost in half by buying it on the web)
1 4x8 sheet of 2" foam insulation $36
4 cinder blocks $1.25 each
Staple gun & staples $12
total cost: $88
Epilogue: I googled Homasote to prove to myself I wasn't hallucinating and sure enough, it does exist. Better still, I found a thread on a model railroading board where someone asked where to get it because their Lowes didn't carry it. The overwhelming response was: Go to Menards. Vindication! :)