Our 2.5 year old toddler loves to play with play-doh (and his dad too). Taking the cups and shapes out of the box, putting them back in the box, storing the box somewhere, taking it back out, ... quite a hustle. I wonder if I could find an elegant storing and playing solution for this problem.
By accident I punched a small hole in our LACK coffee table and noticed it was hollow. So I was thinking, why not storing our play-doh in the table and have it ready whenever we want to play with it. Two birds, one stone: I repaired the table and made something fun to play with and to store the play-doh.
An additional advantage: I could make it with some leftover materials in the house and didn't need to buy another table or closet. You can make one too for less then € 10 yourself if you have an old t-shirt laying around.
Mission started: how to hack a LACK into a play-doh table with extra storage.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Harvest the materials for this project in your house. Chances are you already have everything you need laying around in your house. If not, the biggest expense in this project is the Lack coffee table. All the rest you can make from leftovers.
Materials needed for this project are:
- a LACK coffee table: the dream coffee table for IKEA hackers. Cheap and with endless possibilities. I took one that we owned for a while now that had a small dent in it. I can cover this dent up with one of the holes I have to make for the play-doh cups.
- An old t-shirt in a bright colour.
- A short piece of wire. I used a leftover from our electricity work.
- 4 screws
- some cardboard in bright colours.
Tools needed for this project are:
- A drill-screwdriver
- a hole saw attachment for your drill.
- a tape measure
- scissors and a cutting knife
- some sandpaper
- a glue gun.
Step 2: Make the Holes for the Play-doh Cups
The first step is to make the holes for the play do cups. These cubbies help the table to stay organised when playing and also gives it a nice look when the table is set aside after playing. They mark the designated place for the play-doh.
- Mark the location where you want to put the cups in the table. I was doubting between six and four places for the cups. I ended up with only four places and putting the other two cups in the storage below the table. This keeps the surface a bit cleaner. Stay away from the part above the legs! The lack table is hollow, except at these parts because the table legs need some wood to screw into.
- Take you hole saw attachment for your drill that is just a bit larger then the bottom part of the cup and drill out the holes in the top surface of the lack table.
- Remove the cardboard in the holes. This honeycomb cardboard helps the top surface to stay this rigid. Removing only this small amount won't matter much.
- Fit the play-doh cups and sand the edges.
Step 3: Decorate the Inside of the Pockets
You now have four holes in the top of your coffee table. You could stop here, put some cold beverages in and you have a coffee table that is resistant to tipping-over-your-drink-accidents. I doubt however if the table would be allowed in the living room.
So our next step is to decorate the inside of the pockets. I had some cardboard laying around that has some nice bright colours and a sort of decorative print on it, but you can decorate it with almost anything.
- Measure the circumference of the pocket. I used one of the pieces I drilled out in the previous step. Mark a point on the circle and roll it over the surface of the cardboard. When your mark touches the cardboard again, mark it and measure the needed length.
- Cut 4 strips that have the same height as the table top and the length you just measured.
- Cut 4 squares that are a bit bigger than the holes in the table surface.
- Heat up your glue gun.
- Glue the squares to the bottom of the table top.
- Put in the strips of cardboard and add some hot glue in between the strip and the edge. Push the top of the strip firmly against the glue and bend it a bit outwards on the top.
Congratulations. You now have a nice looking coffee table with some good looking pockets for play-doh or any other arts-and-crafts supplies. Once my son got out his many little shapes to push out of the play-doh I saw that four pockets weren't enough to keep our living room tidy. The next step will be about adding some storage under the table.
Step 4: Make the Storage Bag
So we need some extra storage. Since I don't have a table saw, the only power tool in the house is a cordless drill/screwdriver combo, I was looking in my garage for another solution. When I saw my box full of old t-shirts of different events I attended I had an idea. Why not make a sort of bag that hangs in a corner of the table?
The first method I could find was this awesome Instructable of SewMargaretSew. A bit of googling later I even found a method that didn't require a sewing machine, posted here by MommyPotamus. So the credit for the knotting technique goes to her. If the instructions below are a bit to brief for the knotting, I suggest the long instructions on her website. Anyhow, here is how to make the storage bag:
- Turn the T-shirt inside out.
- Cut away the sleeves. Be sure to stay outside the seam, because this seam gives the edge some strength.
- Mark and cut the top hole. The opening for a head is a bit to small for our application. I used a large plate for that. In the front I made this hole a bit bigger. This will make it easier to grab the stuff that is in the bag when it is mounted to the table.
- On the bottom of the T-shirt, cut fringes that are about 1cm wide and 5 cm deep. Making them longer will make the knotting easier, but will reduce the amount of stuff you can ditch in the bag later. Keep your T-shirt flat from now on so that the fringes stay on top of each other.
- The knotting: take the two fringes that are on each other and knot them together. Fold one end upward. Knot the next two fringes and knot one of those two ends to the one you folded upwards after the previous knot. Fold the other one upwards. Repeat until you reached the other end of the T-shirt. Pull tightly on all knots so they won't come loose.
- Turn the T-shirt inside out again and you are ready.
Step 5: Mount the Bag to the Table
Almost there. Next up is mounting the bag to the table. I just put two legs of the table through the handles of the bag and screwed it to the corners of the table. This is the only part of the table where there is some solid wood.
For the other side, to keep the bag from the ground and out of the way when your toddler is sitting at the table, I drilled two holes in the back edge of the table at about 2 cm from the side. I then took a short piece of stiff electric wire and bended it into place, through the knots at the bottom of the bag.
Step 6: Reflections
I had a lot of fun making this project and it only took one afternoon of work, including playing with our toddler and the play-doh. The concept worked out perfectly. Everything you need to play is right at your fingertips. Our toddler just has to reach below the table for some cutters and take cup from one of the pockets and he can start playing. Perfect!
I doubted a long time to use my Instructables T-shirt, which just arrived in the mail last week. A robot would have made this project a lot cooler. However, I think I will wear it first for a while. And when it is worn I can still make it into a bag for some other project.
The lack table is very thankful to hack into different kinds of furniture. I bumped into this light box table Instructable as a very nice example. But also other kinds of pockets then the round ones I used are possible (for example a box for crayons). And then I didn't even mention my ideas of stacking them into a tower of arts-and-crafts stations. Let me know what you made with LACK tables in the comments below. The coolest "LACK hack" will be awarded with a premium membership for Instructables.
If you stumble across any other cool Instructables that hack lack tables, let me know and I'll add them to my 'Hack a Lack' collection.