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How to Build a Train Table with Hole in Center - Finished in Hours

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Picture of How to Build a Train Table with Hole in Center - Finished in Hours
This is a  train table plan created for all those avid train-conductors in training! It is simple to build, takes only a few hours (plus paint drying time) and costs about $30 USD to build.

My son's old preschool had a custom-built train table that was so unique because of its easy access - a hole in the center for a child to sit in the middle so everything could be in reach. My son's grandfather, who is great at building things, helped us put this together and create a detailed blueprint and step-by-step directions to follow. Enjoy!

Parts List:
1. One 6 ft. by 4 ft. piece of plywood 5/8 in. thick, finished on one side
2. Four 2 x 6 x 24 in. lumber for the legs
3. Two 2 x 6 x 36 in. lumber for the leg cross-members
4. One quart of paint, your color choice (we used Cilantro Green Satin Finish)
5. One 1 pound box #6 by 2 ½ in. deck screws (or 24 screws total)

Tools List:
1. Jigsaw
2. Battery Drill Driver
3. Sanding Block
4. Tac Cloth

Notes:
Building the train table can be extremely inexpensive and simple for beginners. The entire project should cost about $30 (more or less, depending on the store you purchase the parts from). The table in the plan is quite large and can be used for many years and for other purposes (ie: car setups, an art table). It is also possible to use this plan to create your train table in a smaller size. The size and color you choose depend on your preferences. This project can be done in one day.



 
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Step 1: Cut Hole in Plywood

Picture of Cut Hole in Plywood
1. Cut one 20 in. diameter hole in the center of the plywood. The table created in the image above had a 22 in. diameter hole, and is large enough for two children to play in the center. You can create the hole larger or smaller, according to your preferences.

** If unsure how to create a perfect hole in the center of the plywood, then start by putting a nail in the center of the plywood. Then, take a pencil and tie a string around it (we used thick fishing line).

** Wrap the string around the nail so the string is 10 inches long. Then take that pencil which is connected to the string and the nail in the center, and pull around while drawing a line to create a perfect circle in the center.

2. Drill a hole somewhere along the circle, so that you can easily insert the saw blade in to cut the circle. Then follow your pencil lines to cut the circle out.

Step 2: Cut Rounded Corners

Picture of Cut Rounded Corners
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Use a one-gallon paint can (or whatever you have available, ie: plate) to create an arc at the corners of the plywood. Use a fine wood-cutting blade to cut the corners.

Step 3: Build the Legs of the Table

Picture of Build the Legs of the Table
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Take your cross-member (2 x 6 x 36 in.) and the two legs (both 2 x 6 x 24 in.). Place the cross-member on the ground, with the two legs placed on the outside of it. Center the cross-member at half the distance of the legs (one foot).

Screw the cross-member into the legs with three 2 ½ inch deck screws on each side. Repeat this for the other side’s legs and cross-member.

Step 4: Assemble All Pieces

Picture of Assemble All Pieces
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Set the assembled legs with cross-members under the table. Space it so that the legs are about 5 ½ inches from the center hole. Then drill in three 2 ½ inch deck screws to secure each leg into place.

Fill in any imperfections on the wood with wood filler, and also fill in the indentations above the screws.

Sand all edges, and the areas that the wood filler was used on, and then wipe it down with a tac cloth (or towel).

Paint the table and legs with your choice of paint. Let it dry for a few hours and add another coat of paint, if you like.

I also added L-Brackets on the bottom legs to add stability. This is optional though.

Your train table is now finished! Enjoy!

Holly I noticed it from your featured author link, this is so awesome :). You are a great mom I am sure.
Thank
HollyMann (author)  Tarun Upadhyaya2 years ago
Thanks so much Tarun :) This is my first instructable!
billbillt3 years ago
Great idea!!!...Will have to make one for my grandson...
HollyMann (author) 3 years ago
Oh sorry it looks like you did paint it a bit - I needed to zoom in! It looks beautiful!
Thanks! I'll post another pic with the Little Engineer and his new train after Christmas morning. Can't wait to see his face!
HollyMann (author)  jilly448223 years ago
Please do!!!! :) That is so exciting! I bet he'll love it!
He is a happy Engineer!
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HollyMann (author)  jilly448223 years ago
My son loves the picture! The train table looks so nice!!! Good job! He looks very happy!!! :)
jilly448223 years ago
Love it! My 73 year old dad made this today for my grandson ~ his 5 year old great grandson. The Lionel Train arrives tomorrow just in time for a great Christmas surprise!

The table is FABULOUS!!!! I went to hubby's barn and yanked his bar stool...cut it off for a perfect fit. ;^)
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HollyMann (author)  jilly448223 years ago
WOW it looks WONDERFUL!!!! I'm so happy to hear this - I will let my dad know this when I see him in a couple of days. He is the one who did this project with me for my son - so it's his idea/plan! It looks awesome! Do you think you'll leave it like that or paint it? I think it looks really nice natural!
It's hard to tell in the picture because our garage lights are so bright but it is painted. I chose a sandy/dirt colored paint so as not to clash with any of his landscaping he does later. The paint was actually still wet so it dried a couple shades darker.
guyfrom7up4 years ago
anyone see a certain 3d movie recently? haha nah but great instructable
yh i was thinking that...Im not hungry anymore...
thepelton4 years ago
I agree. Something like a rotating piano stool would make it complete.
HollyMann (author)  thepelton4 years ago
Great idea!
rueggmaul4 years ago
Perfect for a christmas tree.
thepelton4 years ago
In fact, I could see this being used for an electric train set when he gets older.
HollyMann (author)  thepelton4 years ago
Shortly after setting this up, my old friend gave my son a big set of model trains. He loves them!
they are quite fun. i am currently making a layout with a simple 2' x 4' station terminus layout in OO, may add an Instructable.
dhb4 years ago
Perfect! Now all he needs is a chair that swivels.