My kids love trains and legos, but I don’t love having train tracks and lego creations all over my floor. For a while I actually made my kids play with their train tracks outside on a piece of plywood, and it worked pretty well. When they were ready to go inside, the train set went back in its box and into the shed. No “I want to leave it out so I can come back to play with it later”. But now that it’s really too cold to spend hours outside everyday, and because trains and legos are such good things for young kids to spend their time on, I’ve been tripping over train tracks and legos regularly.
What’s a mom to do? Build a train table, that’s what! I tried to find plans for a train table online, but nothing quite fit exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to have locking wheels so that the kids could easily roll it away from the wall for play, then put it back in its place when they finish. The wheels needed to be locking so that we wouldn’t have to worry about it rolling around when we want it to stay still. I made it 23 1/2 inches tall, which is a perfect height for all of my kids, ages 1-7. We are a short family though, so you may need to adjust the height for taller kids. I debated whether to put a low bottom shelf for play and storing boxes of tracks and legos or to leave the bottom open and make rolling storage boxes that could be parked under the table, but finally settled on the shelf option, partly because of the price of castor wheels and the extra work involved in building the rolling boxes, and partly because I think the shelf option is nice for the extra play area. With 4 little ones and another on the way, I think they will need all the play space they can get! I made the table top 46 inches by 28 inches so that it would fit nicely in the space I allotted for it in my son’s room, but an added bonus is that it also fits through our doorways, so we can roll it anywhere in the house and use it for all kinds of things! I nailed 3/4 inch quarter round molding to the edges to give a nice finished look and add a tiny lip that will help keep tracks and legos from sliding off the table. It’s been two days since I made it, and I haven’t found a train track on the floor yet!
Here are the plans:
- 4 locking castor wheels (Mine are 2″ wheels. I got them at my local Ace Hardware store for $4.99 each- $19.96 total).
- 1/2 inch thick Plywood Project Panel cut into two pieces, 28 by 46 inches each (or whatever size you choose). I got mine at Lowes and had them cut it for me. It cost about $36 for the 4×8 project panel, which was much smoother and straighter than the regular 1/2 plywood at $20. I have a nice size piece left left that I can use for another project too.
- 150 or 180 grit sandpaper for sanding edges of plywood
- 8 ft. piece of 2×2, cut into 4- 20 1/2 inch pieces for legs (I found this length by taking the total desired height of the table and subtracting the widths of the plywood (1 inch total) and the height of the wheels (2 inches). You can adjust the height according to your needs. Just know that if you need legs longer than 24 inches, you will of course need another 2×2.)
- 4- 8 ft. pieces of 3/4 inch quarter round molding.
- 1/2 inch screws to attach wheels
- Screws at least 3/4 inch in length and not longer than 1 1/2 inches to attach legs
- Miter saw for cutting molding at 45 degree angle and cutting legs. The molding is optional, so if you don’t have a miter saw and don’t want to invest in one, just sand the edges of your plywood really smooth instead.
- Screw driver and drill bit slightly smaller in diameter than screws for pre-drilling holes into legs (if you hold the bit up with the screw behind it, you should be able to see the threads of the screw, while the body of the screw is covered by the bit.) It’s really nice to have two screw drivers for this project- one to drill holes and one to put in screws.
- Tape measure for measuring before cutting!
- Pen or pencil to mark measurements on the wood
- Nail gun and air compressor for nailing quarter round onto edges of table. You might be able to use small nails and a hammer to nail on the quarter round, but it will be a pain. The quarter round is totally optional though- you could just sand the edges of the plywood really smooth and call it done. I’m sure you could use wood glue to attach something along the top edge to give a little bump so tracks and legos wouldn’t fall off easily. A piece of twine would probably work fine.
The How To:
- Cut your table top and bottom shelf or have them cut to size. Sand edges to remove splinters. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth if you are going to attach quarter round.
- Cut your legs to size and sand slightly.
- Choose which piece of plywood will be your table top and set it on a long edge. Hold a leg firmly in place at one corner and drill a hold through the plywood and into the leg, being careful to keep your drill straight and to not make your hole too close to the edge of the leg. Use one of your longer screws to screw the table top and the leg together. Make another hole near the opposite corner of the leg, through the plywood and into the leg. Fasten in place with another long screw. Repeat for the other three legs.
- Carefully flip your table so that the table top is flat on the floor with the legs sticking up.
- Place your bottom shelf plywood on top of the legs with the bottom of the shelf facing up.
- Drill hole and screw outside corner of leg as you did for the table top.
- Place a wheel with one hole overlapping the inner corner of the leg. The wheel will be inset about 3/4 inch from the edges of the bottom shelf. Drill hole and screw through this wheel hole and the plywood into the leg using a long screw. Now use 3 of your 1/2 inch screws to attach the rest of the wheel in place. Repeat with remaining wheels and legs.
- If you choose to add the quarter round, you will need to measure and cut to size very carefully. The table edge measurement will be the “inside” measurement for the quarter round. This means you will need to set your miter saw to cut at 45 degrees outward from your measurement marks. Be careful not to cut your pieces too short, or you will have some ugly gaps to fill at your corners… like I do. =/ You should have a shorter inside edge of your quarter round that will align with your table edges, and the outside edge of your round should be longer so that all the corners of the quarter round will match up nicely. Cut two pieces and make sure they are lining up properly before cutting the rest so that you can trouble shoot if necessary.
- Carefully attach quarter round to table and bottom shelf edges with a nail gun.
- Paint if desired.