When you have kids, their stuff is like gas: it takes all the available room. But like gas, it can be confined (sure it will leak, but that's better than nothing).
Our kids are playing with Playmobil. Lots of small pieces tend to get lost everywhere... and end up into the vacuum cleaner !
I was looking for a Lego table or such, but could not find any. After googling a bit, I found this nice project there on Flickr and decided to build one. Credits: Louis Pilon for his great idea (and other cool projects).
The photo below shows our result.
Step 1: Needed Tools
A power jigsaw (or a table saw) is a great help to cut the strips to length. If you don't have any, have a miter box and joinery saw.
If you cannot get plywood cut to size at the wood shop, you will need a table saw or similar.
You will need a dowel kit, and a drill.
Also useful (but not shown below):
- plastic hammer,
- sand paper and sanding block,
- paint brushes.
Step 2: Determine the Right Size and Make a Sketch
What matters is to determine the right size. It really depends on you. To figure out, make a small simulation with two folding rulers (picture 1 below). Once covered with toys, any size will seem too small...
This project is so simple that a hand-drawn sketch is okay (I did my one by hand in the first place, and used Google SketchUp for this instructable; picture 2 below).
- The groves are 8 cm large and 4 cm deep. That's big enough.
- The overall size is 90 cm,
- and the upper board is 70 cm large. It's quite OK but I wouldn't do it smaller.
Step 3: Get Needed Materials, Cut to Size
Your sketch (picture below) will help you write your materials list down. You don't see it on the sketch, but the top board has four or six supporting strips hidden under, because kids will climb on it.
- plywood, 1 cm thick, 90x90 cm
- hard wood strips, 2 cm x 4 cm thick: two of 90 cm long, two of 86 cm long
- plywood, 5 mm thick, 70x70 cm
- soft wood strips, 2 cm x 3.5 cm thick: two of 70 cm long, two of 66 cm long
Upper board support:
- soft wood strips, 2 cm x 3.5 cm thick: 4 or 6 of approx 30 cm long
- 4 wood screws 3 x 40 mm
- wood paint for ground layer
- paint for next layers, color of your choice
- wood filler paste (except if you are a miter expert)
Cut everything to size:
- If you can buy the plywood to size, that's fine; otherwise use a table saw (at very worst, a jigsaw).
- Cut the strips to size using a power jigsaw (or a miter box and joinery saw), at 90 degree angles. We are not going to build miters, actually.
Step 4: Build the Bottom and Top Boards
Photo 1 below (bottom board):
- Position the strips on the boards' edges.
- Install dowels; the plastic hammer may help.
- Apply wood glue and clamp them until dry.
Photo 2 below (in front: top board upside down):
- Position and glue the side strips. Clamp them.
- Position and glue the supporting strips under the top board, forming a 4 or 6 branches star. They are difficult to clamp, so just put some loads on.
Photo 3 below (corner of the top board):
- Tighten the corners with iron L's.
- Fill whatever spaces needing it, with wood filler.
Drawing 4 below:
- With the brad point drill bit, make short thick holes at the corners of the TOP board, just deep enough for the dowel center -- NOT DEEPER, so approx 10 mm. The dowel center will be useful in the next step, to mark where holes will be drilled on the bottom board.
- Inside these hole, drill thinner but deeper holes (2.5 mm diameter). Drill 30 mm deep, and do not traverse the plywood.
Photo 5 below:
- With sand paper, soften a bit the top outer edges,
- and especially the outer top corners
Step 5: Paint
Paint the surfaces that will be apparent.
Apply one ground layer.
Apply at least one layer of the final color of your choice.
Let each layer dry completely, then sand the boards and borders slightly.
Step 6: Adjust and Assemble the Boards Together
Adjust the top board on the bottom one:
- [A] Put all four dowel centers in each hole of the top board's corners.
- Lay four small wood pieces (as spacers) on the bottom board.
- Carefully land the top board on the spacers. The top board must sit on the spacers, not on the dowel centers. The dowel centers must float just a few millimeters above the bottom board.
- Adjust the position of the top board so to be well centered on the bottom board (same distance to the external borders).
- [B] Press each corner of the top board to let dowel centers mark the bottom board.
- With a pencil, write a slight and small mark on one of the corners, on either boards. It will help you find the right corner again later.
- Move the top board away.
Drill holes in the bottom board:
- [C] locate the dowel centers marks, and drill the four holes with a 3 mm drill bit.
Mount the boards together:
- Find the pencil marks to see which corners belong together.
- From under the bottom board, engage a 3 x 40 mm screw in each hole.
- [D]�Tighten the screws so that their heads sink very slightly: you don't want the screws to damage your rooms !
Step 7: Finish: Sand It, and Apply a Last Paint Layer
Sand the whole very slightly, depending on your perfectionism. But remember, perfectionism doesn't pay for children !
Apply a last layer of paint.
Step 8: Use It !
- Now it's up to the kids to work !
- Transform a messy floor into a well-ordered play field.
- Extend the order to the rest of the room.
- The table could be raised by approx 20 cm. Use big plastic or wooden boxes.
- I plan to build a base under the table, allowing some more storage.