Introduction: Lego Construction Table

If a pile of Lego exists somewhere in your house, the second law of thermodynamics dictates that the collection of blocks will not be neatly organized, but rather will be a chaotic (and probably growing...) pile from a multitude of different sets. Even constraining the pile to the bounds of a table or a blanket or a box is no trivial task, and the constant battle against entropy has exercised aficionados (and their parents!) ever since the invention of Lego. Here's my attempt to bring order to a tiny corner of the universe, for a minimum expenditure of personal energy...

Step 1: Design

There were a few elements I wanted to include in the table. I wanted a gutter around the outside, like laxap's Playmobil table. I wanted it to have legs, so we could put the bigger storage drawers of Lego that we already have underneath. I wanted the table to include storage, but I didn't want to make lots of drawers. I wanted there to be plenty of room around it so two or more kids could play without getting in each other's way, but not so big that it took up most of their bedroom... so, I wanted it to slide out for playing, and to slide out of the way when not. Here's what I came up with.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

Much of the design was borne out of the fact that I had a lot of bits of plywood lying around after renovating our basement - the previous owners of our house had a thing for plywood cupboard doors. I also had various lumber offcuts and a pair of 2" caster wheels. I bought a pair of 24" full extension drawer slides. If you wanted to make this table from scratch, a 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2" plywood and an 8' length of 2 x 4 ought to see you right, so it'll cost you ~$65 for everything. You'll also need wood glue, nails and paint.

I used a lot of power tools. Mitre saw, bench saw, circular saw, jigsaw, orbital sander, brad nailer and router all got a workout. You could do everything with a circular saw, hammer and some elbow grease, but it would take a lot longer. It took two afternoons to design, cut and assemble, and a few evenings to paint.

Step 3: Build Table Top and Gutter

I had design constraints due to the sizes of the bits of plywood I had. The biggest piece was 850 x 800 mm, and the slide was 650 mm long, so the table top ended up 850 x 650 mm. I made it 150 mm deep, because that looked about right. Both the base and side of the gutter were 90 mm, again, an eyeball choice, and once assembled, made for a trench 90 mm wide and 75 mm deep (because of the way I overlapped the pieces, and because the base of the trench was made using 5/8" plywood). Rip to the right width, cut to length, and assemble with wood glue and a brad nailer. I love my brad nailer - the brads by themselves are feeble, but they make for really fast and precise assembly using wood glue and eliminate the need for clamps. The resulting holes are punched below the surface and are easy to fill. Add end pieces for the gutter to stop bricks falling out.

Step 4: Build Table

Install the slides on the inside of the tabletop, and measure for the table/storage box. I made the side pieces 200 mm high. Assemble into a rectangle of the right size to fit exactly inside the tabletop (don't forget to account for the slides!). Cut some 2 x 2 for legs - I ripped these out of an offcut of 2 x 6, and rounded over the edges with a curved bit in my router. Mine were 600 mm long. Glue and nail into the inside of the box, then add a base.

Step 5: Join Tabletop and Storage Box, and Add Wheeled Legs

Use the slides to join tabletop and storage box. Attach caster wheels to two pieces of 2 x 3 for additional legs, and cut to the right length. Screw down into the top of the legs through the base of the gutter.

Step 6: Add Dividers

I made a 3 x 4 grid of roughly square boxes to divide up the storage area. It's not glued in place, in case we want to modify it in future. The dividers are roughly 200 mm square. I cut slots with a jigsaw to assemble it without any fasteners.

Step 7: Storage Box Seats

I still hadn't used up all the plywood, so I made a couple of storage boxes that would also serve as seats. Again, the size was entirely dictated by the plywood. I made a six-sided box about 2' x 1' x 1', and sawed it in half on the bench saw to make two open boxes. The lids were made out of another offcut of 5/8" plywood I had lying around. I added a piece of 1/2" plywood to the underside of the lid so it would stay on, and rounded over all the edges with my router.

Step 8: Paint

We brainstormed with the boys about how to finish it, and they weren't interested in a Lego-style color scheme - they thought it should look like a construction site. So we came up with the above design, choosing a font that would be suitable to stencil. After priming it and painting it white, the orange diagonal band was painted on using spray paint. We blew up the lettering, printed it out and cut out the letters, then assembled into a single stencil. We lightly glued it to the surface using a glue stick (which wipes off easily with a little water) and spray painted the lettering on in black. 
The seats were similarly treated, the boxes white and the lids orange with construction icons (gears and a wrench) in black. Again, we used stencils and spray paint. Spray paint has the advantage of being easy to apply to stencils, and it is hard-wearing - important in this application given the abuse it's likely to get!

Step 9: Play!

All done. Load with Lego, and let your construction workers get stuck in! The storage box seats are good for the Lego instructions.
The table is of course equally suitable for other construction toys. The design is pretty flexible - you're only constrained by the lengths of the slides you buy, and these come in up to 36" lengths if you wanted a big table. The table could easily be made as a box rather than with legs if you wanted a cupboard or drawers underneath.

Note: this table is designed to handle stage 6 of Remy Evard's Evolution of Lego Storage. It could probably cope with stages 7-9. For 10-27, you're on your own...

Comments

author
Puma+Bait made it!(author)2016-01-25

Love this! I changed a few things but only for my situation, great instructable! I added a flip top with a piano hinge for added play area and glued lego plates on to the top for stationary play. My son loves it and uses it daily! He plays legos on the very top and trains on the top when its all the way open. My wife wasn't sure she wanted the tray around the outside but is very glad we left it on the plans! Such a great space saver and organizer!

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makendo made it!(author)2016-01-25

Brilliant, love what you've done with the deeper box and extra play area. Thanks for posting!

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mead76 made it!(author)2015-12-19

I am new to this site....where do you find the cut list? I wanted to make 3 of these for my boys. I am tired of finding legos everywhere

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makendo made it!(author)2015-12-19

hey, welcome. You'll have to sift through the steps to get all the dimensions. I made this from leftover bits of plywood from a demolition, so there is not much rhyme nor reason to it and I didn't write up a cut list. On the bright side - it's been heavily used for 5 years, is in great shape, and the plans - such as they are - are free

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klixtopher made it!(author)2015-03-21

Thanks for this! Made it for my girls, adjusted the size to accommodate their Lego Friends play-mat. I plan on putting square containers inside it to hold all the bits and pieces.

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makendo made it!(author)2015-03-22

Brilliant! Looks great, thanks for posting.

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OceanLady made it!(author)2014-02-26

This is awesome! I can see modifying it for my son's Thomas train collection. Might have to make that my summer project.

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hufan made it!(author)2013-06-24

Very nice work

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dana-dxb made it!(author)2013-03-25

awsome so good and practicl

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Buzzyman made it!(author)2011-12-28

I made this table and i love it, went a little bigger on the specs.......nice work on the plans. This was exactly what i envisioned when i thought about a lego table. I am very impressed with your work on this Makendo.

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makendo made it!(author)2011-12-28

It looks great, very solid! And thanks - it has made a huge difference in our house in terms of keeping all the Lego off the floor and in roughly one place - hopefully you'll have the same result.

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Buzzyman made it!(author)2012-01-05

Not a Lego on the floor yet....running out of room already...cool thing is those M:tron and space police sets are from when i was was a boy, 22 years ago...saved them all and still have all the pieces...the boy is happy

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jeff-o made it!(author)2011-08-13

Very cool. My kids will be old enough for Lego in just a few years...

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makendo made it!(author)2011-08-13

Thanks jeff-o. It is working out amazingly well - the gutter slowly fills up, prompting some re-sorting (not exclusively by the boys, admittedly), but best of all, the bricks don't end up all over the floor. I think the only thing I'd change would be to make the boxes a little shallower, say 150 mm instead of 200 mm. A deep box is a bit of a pain for sorting.

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jeff-o made it!(author)2011-08-15

Good to know! Thanks.

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mary+candy made it!(author)2011-08-04

Beautiful work.

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seamster made it!(author)2011-07-15

Very nice! I really like it, and the paint job looks great too.

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The+Ideanator made it!(author)2011-07-04

That is the best organized LEGO I've ever seen, all mine are in a big drawer and I can't ever find anything specific.

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makendo made it!(author)2011-07-04

Sounds like you're at stage 3: http://news.lugnet.com/storage/?n=707

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The+Ideanator made it!(author)2011-07-04

Yeah, pretty much. I ought to make a wall of those blue industrial bins just for lego so I can skip the digging through the 30 cubic feet of lego that will end up accumulating when I have kids. On a related note, does anyone know where, if at all, one could get large structural pieces (20x20x5, 10x2x5, etc.) for building internals?

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The+Ideanator made it!(author)2011-07-05

So build the wall with one of those rolling library ladders.

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makendo made it!(author)2011-07-05

Hmmm... always wanted one of those...

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The+Ideanator made it!(author)2011-07-06

Who doesnt? Those things are awesome!

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MicioGatta made it!(author)2011-07-05

Great!!!!!!

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CementTruck made it!(author)2011-07-05

Except for the brown carpet, I thought I was looking at a picture of my son's room for a minute.

Great idea. I might just have to take some of your design ideas and incorporate it into one of my projects for his room.

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makendo made it!(author)2011-07-05

It's a common scene, all right. Thanks & good luck with the build.

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gallagad made it!(author)2011-07-04

This is one of the clearest and bestl-documented Instructables I've read. Are the two small boys required, or could I make do with one still-Lego-obsessed college student?

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eielofview made it!(author)2011-07-04

LOL, I think the 2 small boys just help I am sure age is not a requirement for the project though.

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makendo made it!(author)2011-07-04

Thanks - you might just want to make the legs longer... :)

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Fun2Hold made it!(author)2011-07-04

Absolutely LOVE this. I've got a ton of LEGO-fanatic friends, going to share this with them!!!

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makendo made it!(author)2011-07-04

Cheers - critiques from the experts welcome, I'll add suggestions for improvements to the documentation.

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Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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