- Lego Base Plates (I needed 9 to make a 30" X 30" table)
- MDF/plywood/doorskin wood for table base (not too thin/this can warp easily. I'll show you proof later on!)
- Wood for table frame. I used 9" x 3/4" for this table and 5 1/2" x 3/4" for the train table that I made a few years ago. Measure one side of desired finished side and multiply x's 4 and add a few inches for cutting errors.
- Wood for inside rail that holds the table platform. I used 2 1/2" x 3/4" because it was cheaper than the narrower wood. Narrower wood is fine to use also.
- 2" x 2" wood for inner "legs". You only need approx 28-30" depending on height of table.
- Wood screws (I didn't have any on hand so we used drywall screws) 1 1/2" should be long enough, but it varies on the thickness of the wood you choose.
- Wood glue
- 180 and 220 grit sandpaper
- Paint (I used flat paint so I also needed varnish. If you use a semi gloss paint I don't think you need to varnish the table). I chose Martha Stewart in Mariner.
- Chalkboard paint
- Four bun feet (sources:Van Dykes Restorers, Osborne Wood Products). I bought mine for about $5.00 each.
- Circular saw (or hand saw if you need to)
- Wood putty
- Four wood dowel pins with corresponding size drill bit.
- Plastic glue for Lego base plates. I used Locktite Stik 'n Seal No Mess adhesive, but you can use whatever you have on hand.
Let's get Started!
First you will need to determine what Lego base plates you want to use. There are a variety of colors and sizes available. I chose to make my table with 10" X 10" green base plates because we already had two of these. The two standard sizes available are 10" X 10" and 15" X 15". Originally I was going to make the table with one side Duplo plates and the other side original Lego plates, but the kids decided they wanted to be able to play with other things on the table so we collectively agreed that the reverse side would be chalkboard.
I recommend having your platform wood cut at the lumber store that it was purchased from. Home Depot is where I bought all the wood for the project and they cut it to size for me. Take your base plates with you and lay them out to mark the size. This is important because even though they measure 10" x 10", when they are laid out side by side my table actually ends up having a platform that measures a smidge over (maybe 30 1/8").
1. This is where I kind of leave it up to you to take measurements based on the size of the platform and width of the frame wood you chose. Take the length of one side of the platform wood (mine was 30 1/8"). Cut two pieces of frame wood in that length plus 1/8" for wiggle room. Take into account the width of the saw blade which cuts off some extra wood . Cut two pieces of frame wood using the platform measurement plus the width of the frame wood x's 2.
You should have two pieces of frame wood cut the same length as your platform wood and two pieces cut longer. Sorry if that is confusing. You will need your frame to be bigger than your platform so that your platform can fit inside the frame table.
2. Using wood glue and screws make a box for your table frame. I didn't pre-drill pilot holes and my cheapo wood did split. No big deal though.
3. Cut the wood purchased for the inner rail so that it fits on the inside of the box. This does not need to be a super tight fit. It will essentially be a shelf that your base platform will rest on. Measure the depth of your platform base and draw a line where the top of the rail wood will be attached. See far left photo below where my pencil mark is. Attach with wood glue and screws.
You now have a box with inner side rails glued and screwed into place. And Opa makes his blogging debut. Well his hand did, he was being camera shy that day.
Above is the shorter table I made as a train table a few years back
4. Cut 4 pieces of your 2" x 2" wood "legs" to fit under the rail. Use wood glue to attach. I suppose you can use some wood screws for extra strength but we didn't and it holds up just fine.
If you do not want to use bun feet you can extend these legs longer to become your play table legs.
5. Use wood putty on all screws and places your wood may have split. Let dry. Sand entire table. Slightly round all edges. I use 180 grit followed by 220. Once the table is sanded it really starts to look pretty darn nice.
Next we'll be attaching our bun feet.
6. If you are using bun feet with a narrow top you can mark the center of the bun foot and the center of the bottom of the play table to mark where the dowel holes will be placed. I picked out bun feet that have a wider top so the center of the foot does not line up with the center of the table bottom.
Above photo shows how the center does not line up
1. Trace the bun foot with the bottom of your table. 2. Outline the zig zag of the table bottom. 3. Mark 1" in from corner and 1" in from edge of bun foot. This is where you will drill your dowel hole.
I like to paint the table and bun feet separately before gluing together
7. Mark the dowel pin in half with pencil. Use masking tape on drill bit to mark the depth your dowel hole needs to be drilled. This helps you to not drill the hole too deep.
Test to see if dowel placement is centered before applying glue. Use glue in each dowel hole and where the wood will be touching. More glue is better than less. Wipe off excess glue after bun foot is attached to table. After gluing all four bun feet I turned my table over so the weight of the table put pressure on the feet during drying time.
Dowel screw can be used but I use a dowel pin.
8. If you haven't already painted the table now is the time. Varnish if necessary. Sand with fine grit and varnish again.
9. Paint platform with chalkboard paint on one side. When I did this the moisture from the paint warped my wood. To avoid this I should have used a thicker wood. My bad (a.k.a. I'm cheap).
Oh boy. Looks like I'm headed back to Home depot
Before you glue down your Lego base plates you may want to paint the wood where the corners meet (see above far left). I'm just picky and wanted the green to be seamless. A tip for gluing your base plates is to put a piece of Lego in the four corners of each base plate while the glue is drying. This assures that your plates are evenly aligned and you will be able to attach Lego anywhere on the table without any problems.
I haven't decided if I want to make a handle to make the play board easier to turn or if I'm going to drill a finger hole for turning. On my train table I never installed the brass handle that I thought I would, and I just reach up under the play board to push it up for turning. It's worked pretty good so far. My dad (Opa) thinks drilling a finger hole with a butterfly drill bit is the way to go.
So that's about it. Stand back and admire your work! That wasn't too bad was it?
I made the Lego bag using this tutorial that was featured earlier in celebrate the Boy.