Picture of Simple Train Play Table
I have 2 sons, one is 3 1/2 and the other is 1 1/2 and the 3 year old is totally out of his mind crazy for Thomas the Tank Engine. He lives, eats and sleeps Thomas and his friends. During one of his many perusals of the Toys R Us catalogs, he stumbled onto the Thomas Train table and it's all he has been talking about. This is for sure something he wants for Christmas, but the table alone is $299.00.  Add in the many sets (anywhere from $39 - $129) and trains (anywhere from $9.99 - $29.99) you can easily spend close to $1,000. Well that isn't an option, but building one is.

Step 1: Material and Tools needed

Picture of Material and Tools needed


5 - 1x4  8' long -  $3.98 each
1 - 3/4 sanded pine plywood - $25
1 - Gorilla Glue wood glue
nails for nail gun
120 grit sand paper - $3.98
220 grit sand paper - $3.98
pint of polyurethane -  - $7.00


Compound Miter Saw (optional)
Air Compressor and nail gun (optional)
Various clamps
palm sander
sanding block
Tape measure
paint brush

Jey97313 months ago

This was one of my first projects and it turned out great thanks to the solid instructions, thanks for posting! Only modification I made was using a countersink bit, plugs and a flush saw to hide the screw holes. It is a little tall for my 2 yr old, but he'll grow into it! Thanks again!

gdhenson (author)  Jey97313 months ago

Wow, that looks great. I built this table 5 years ago and my boys are now 8 and 6 and we've converted out table to a Lego table.

Jey973119 days ago
Finally got it painted! My wife and I went to Texas A&M and figure it's never too early to start brainwashing! Giving it to our son this afternoon!
15, 3:36 PM.jpg
gdhenson (author)  Jey973118 days ago

Thats cool!

LizL23 months ago

so I am going to start making this for my son this week and had a quick question, you put both of the plywood on top as the table, correct? Or was the 2nd piece of plywood used for the shelf?

gdhenson (author)  LizL23 months ago
2nd piece is for the shelf
dfdubfletch7 months ago

hey I just stumbled upon your plan and I love it! Thanks for sharing this I have 3 boys and the 2 year old is all about his choo choo's right now I'm going to build this for him ASAP!

senamar1 year ago
Great! Thanks for the reply. I don't know if you can edit step 9 or not, but there you said cut the bottom shelf 2 inches shorter, but in the comments I see you corrected and said one inch shorter. About to head to the local wood store (my home is in China) and hoping I'll find some decent choices of wood. I'm equally worried about finding polyurethane that won't have a harmful odor for our boys.
senamar1 year ago
Is the table strong enough for a child to stand on without a center support?
gdhenson (author)  senamar1 year ago
This table is stong enough for a very large adult (225lbs) to stand in the center. Its sturdy and strong. Would make a good work bench if it had longer legs.
nhenley1 year ago
Hi! I love these plans. So for the shelf on the bottom, you used the second piece of plywood from the original cut, but made it 2" shorter in width and length, is that right?

And also, did you feel it's sturdy enough not to have a brace in the bottom? I can imagine my son climbing onto it at some point...
gdhenson (author)  nhenley1 year ago
Since the legs are 1/2" think the shelf would need to be 1" less on length and width. I didn't realize I didn't explain that. Sorry about that. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with things like this. Feel free to ask more questions if you need.
BlogZabout2 years ago
Very, very cool! I've posted a link to this on my Thomas the Train Table site. I've listed you in my Parents Guide to Train Tables!  This is awesome!!  Very creative.
skiedra3 years ago
Very nice indeed!
jayzirl3 years ago
Just to say thanks... you have inspired me to make this for christmas for my kids. They too spotted the Thomas table in our local toy store and you are right... with the figurines, track and so on... it was just short of €800 (Euros)

The only alteration i plan is to place four castor wheels on the legs for easy movement around their bedroom so it can be put away easily. (And if my wife ever finalises what colour i should paint it!) - although i do prefer the royal blue colour you painted.

So thank you man... you plans on here will be used to build this and i honestly cant wait to see their faces on christmas morning this year!

rad104 years ago
I love it!!! I procured a 36"x30" tabletop from the IKEA "as-is" area and am using that along with your design to create a faux Thomas Table for my 3 year old.

Does the shelf fit into a small groove in the legs?
gdhenson (author)  rad104 years ago
I cut 4 pieces of 1x4 and tacked them to the inside of the legs and then slid the shelf in while the table was upside down. I then measure the distance from the bottom of the shelf to the bottom of the leg and cut 4 more pieces and tacked them into place to hold the shelf when I flipped it right side up.

Will probably be painting the landscape and adding track this weekend.