Play Table for Wood Trains

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Project by Dave Rutan posted 12-27-2013 01:04 PM 1394 views 6 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

[Legebla ankaĆ­ en Esperanto]

I made this table on request for a Christmas present. My nephew’s son is 3 and just getting into the wooden Thomas trains. His parents wanted something to keep the trains off the floor, yet small enough to be taken up stairs. I took measurements off a play table at our church and scaled the length and width down. The play area is 24×40 inches and the table top is 14 inches high with a raised edge 2 inches above it to keep things contained. All top edges have been rounded over. Bottom edges were chamfered.

I built this using 4×6 pine lumber and a quarter sheet of luan plywood. I painted the table green with two bodies of water connected by a stream to break things up. The body of the table is painted almond. All paint is oil based gloss for easy removal of dirty fingerprints.

The whole thing is held together with glue—no nails whatsoever. The swivel castors, however are held on by screws.

The track pictured is not included as the gift. I borrowed it from my daughter’s supply to show that even a limited space such as this can have an interesting network of track.

Note: I’m mentally conceiving a jig that will allow me to easily make curved track similar to the clickety-clack track that the Thomas trains use. Stay tuned. I videoed the build of this project, but the editing won’t be done for some time. I’ve got a lot of stuff in the queue.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

9 comments so far

View Ben Simms's profile

Ben Simms

191 posts in 1715 days

#1 posted 12-27-2013 01:26 PM

this is great!
nice work

-- I played with Legos as a kid and I never had the part I thought I needed, so I learned to improvise. Now I'm an engineer with a woodworking hobby.

View Oldtool's profile


2365 posts in 1614 days

#2 posted 12-27-2013 01:29 PM

Really nice work, Dave. I’m sure there will be plenty of hours of enjoyment from this build.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1715 days

#3 posted 12-27-2013 01:31 PM

What a cool gift for a youngster (and his or her parents)! Thanks for sharing.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View nomercadies's profile


562 posts in 1762 days

#4 posted 12-27-2013 02:38 PM

That’s the ticket !!
Later when the kids move to Legos and the silly tops they are buying now, the same table can be used for them. I’ve been combing Thomas stuff with Lego and top stuff and throwing in a couple small catapults to have some fantastic play time with the grandkids.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Dave Rutan's profile (online now)

Dave Rutan

1374 posts in 1612 days

#5 posted 12-27-2013 10:34 PM

Thanks folks!

nomercadies, I agree it’s potentially multipurpose. All the better. In my day I could see playing with my little plastic army men on it as well.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View CFrye's profile


8593 posts in 1263 days

#6 posted 12-27-2013 11:13 PM

Nice job, Dave! The casters are a great touch, making the table easy to move to get that dropped piece that rolled underneath. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the video.

-- God bless, Candy

View nomercadies's profile


562 posts in 1762 days

#7 posted 12-27-2013 11:29 PM

Plastic Army Men?
That was my first exposure to lead.
I remember making a small fire under an empty tuna can to melt a broken army man to try to fix another. I really needed more adult supervision. I am thinking they really didn’t care what went into the manufacture of the paint either. (The forgoing announcement has officially been sent to the “Old People Talk” Hall of Fame in Rundowntown, Michigan.) Now excuse me, I have to go to another site and complain about how these young people are conducting themselves these days.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Dave Rutan's profile (online now)

Dave Rutan

1374 posts in 1612 days

#8 posted 12-28-2013 12:39 AM

nomercadies, Plastic burns pretty good too. I’m sure those fumes are not very healthy either. I also spent some time melting an old lead plumbing pipe into a bucket of water to make little lead pieces for weights in my dad’s chessmen. I too should have been more closely supervised I guess. I did manage to survive.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View nomercadies's profile


562 posts in 1762 days

#9 posted 12-28-2013 12:43 AM

Not long ago I picked up a couple molds for making lead soldiers at an estate sale. I put them on a shelf somewhere and didn’t do anything with them. Like so many things in my life … so many things are so tasty … and so little time to enjoy.

I think I’ll watch tv.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

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