Need input on Lego League competition table

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Forum topic by BethMartin posted 02-06-2010 01:44 AM 17446 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BethMartin's profile


111 posts in 3583 days

02-06-2010 01:44 AM

I thought this would be a great place to ask for advice on building this project! Let me explain:

I am a coach of FIRST Lego League team. Go here if you want to know what I am talking about:

This will be our first year in the “big” leagues, where we build a Lego robot and have it complete designated tasks. One of the first things that needs to be done, is that I have to build a table to run the robot on.

The way it’s designed is that you simply need a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood, and then take 2×4s to make a fence around the outside edge (the 2×4s on TOP of the plywood). Like so:

However, the thought of myself hefting that around – ugh!

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for making this portable/collapsible/lightweight. There are a couple versions of it on the web, but I was thinking maybe there would be an even better solution somewhere.

The only caveats are that the playing surface must be FLAT in the end, and that the dimensions are the same if you went the plywood/2×4 route.

Thanks for any help you can give me! :)

-- Beth

17 replies so far

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4211 days

#1 posted 02-06-2010 02:29 AM

Do 1/4” ply deck with rib supports.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View CoolDavion's profile


437 posts in 4030 days

#2 posted 02-06-2010 02:31 AM

Since you are saying “collapsible” you are wanting it to split into 2 pieces to move and store correct? two tables 4’ by 4’.

One suggestion would be to look at some of the model railroad module standards. With the modules, modlers can set up small sections to make a large layout.

I’d make two frames 4’ by 4’, place cross supports in the frame. on top of cross supports place ridged blue insulation, covered with hardboard(so surface is flat and does not get dents). attach the fence on 3 sides.

For legs you could use two saw horses. But I would suggest attaching two legs with nuts and bolts (so they are removable), in the bottom of the drill holes and insert T-nuts with a leveling bolts (like you see on some furniture) in them (this makes the table adjustable if the floor is uneven).

When you set up have a couple of clamps handy to clamp the two sections together.

Sort of a little general, but ask feel free to ask me any questions.

for reference here is one way to do a module.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#3 posted 02-06-2010 03:05 AM

You might like some of the work my old army buddy has done with Legos.

Here is his blog:

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View DonW's profile


66 posts in 3274 days

#4 posted 02-06-2010 03:12 AM

Beth: My wife’s Girl Scout troop competed in First Lego League so I actually built one of these things. I may not be able to tell you how to do it, but I have a couple of thoughts on how NOT to do it; in case this helps. For instance, I can tell you that the 2×4s add a lot of weight to the project. Since we were having Girl Scouts hauls ours around, I made it in 4 sections rather than two. I used inexpensive trunk latches (Home Depot) to fasten the sections together and hardwood for the flooring. They were using their’s on the floor so no additional support was needed. I really like the suggestion above of taking a cue from model railroaders and making modules. My wife’s troop had a mat that was a map of the town and covered the entire surface, which helped make keeping the floor flat a little more forgiving. If you have other questions I am happy to try to answer or ask my wife Linda who has more experience with the league than me.

Good luck!



View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3782 days

#5 posted 02-06-2010 04:33 AM

Do what Miles has said plus folding legs like on a folding card table.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View BethMartin's profile


111 posts in 3583 days

#6 posted 02-06-2010 11:04 PM

Thanks for the ideas, everyone! I’ll definitely have to check out the railroad module techniques, and I like the idea of using the latches to hold sections together.

That robot sorter thing is crazy! :)

-- Beth

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3554 days

#7 posted 02-07-2010 01:41 AM

This might sound a little wacky but you could maybe use these foam tiles, supported by an unglued interlocking grid, using half-lap joint, of 3/4 plywood. The spacing of the half-lap should be short, maybe 6”, so the mats would span the grid. Make the last pieces taller on the edge to replace the 2×4 edging. Assemble the mats and then cut them to fit grid. The whole thing would break down to a series of 3/4×4 by 8’ and 3/4×4 by 4’ pieces (plus the 4 wider ones for the edging) and then the mats and a couple of saw horses. If it isn’t clear I could draw it in sketchup.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View John Harris's profile

John Harris

59 posts in 3249 days

#8 posted 02-11-2010 03:22 AM

Hi, Beth. Welcome to the wonderful world of lego’s! I have been involved with robotics for a few years at the middle school where I teach. Last year we made our dream table. Our goal was to have something that middle school kids could not destroy, could be used heavily on a daily basis before competitions, light enough to actually take to the competitions, and could break down easily for classroom storage and transportation.

We used plastic corrugated material for the “table top”, the same material that is used for cheap signs that you see along the side of the road for politicians or contractors. The brand name is Coroplast and can be found here.

For the sides and the support below the Coroplast, we used fiberglass square tubes. Lightweight and can be easily connected, you can find them here.

We used cheap Home Depot plastic saw horses that easily fold up for the legs and made sure the fiberglass tubes were notched to fit.

We then added a u-shaped bracket over the whole table that allowed us to hang a florescent light on. With all the time that you and the kids spend on the table, good lighting is important.

Our table turned out great. Very simillar design to what you have pictured above, just light weight and can be broken down. Wherever the team has taken it, we are asked to make more tables for other teams. We have even thought about selling them as a fundraiser.

I hope this helps!

View BethMartin's profile


111 posts in 3583 days

#9 posted 02-11-2010 03:42 AM

jlsmith, I think the foam would be too squishy, but I can totally see some lapped plywood thing happening somehow.

John, I’m totally intrigued by your table, do you happen to have any pics of it? Thanks!

-- Beth

View John Harris's profile

John Harris

59 posts in 3249 days

#10 posted 02-22-2010 05:23 PM

Beth, I promise I am not ignoring your request for a pic on purpose. Our table is packed away until the “season” for us starts. It may take a bit.

View Sarit's profile


550 posts in 3345 days

#11 posted 02-24-2010 12:43 PM

You want a simple torsion box construction to make a sandwich using either 1/8 in hardboard or 1/4 in ply as the skins and either 2 in thick styrofoam insulation sheets or resin coated honeycomb paper as the “meat”. Just make sure that if you use styrofoam, then use a glue that wont melt it.

Torsion boxes are the standard for FLAT rigid light weight surfaces.

Let us know how collapsible you want it to be. Is folding it in half (4’ x 4’) good enough?

View Sean Reed's profile

Sean Reed

3 posts in 2306 days

#12 posted 08-25-2012 10:31 AM

John – I don’t know if you are still around but would like more of a description for your FLL competition table

View TrBlu's profile


386 posts in 2831 days

#13 posted 08-25-2012 11:12 AM


I have made two different versions of this table for my wife’s FIRST Lego League teams at two different schools. One used folding legs, salvaged from an old plywood table at the school. The second used sawhorses and more closely followed the plan from FIRST. The sawhorse version worked much better for the team.

I know I have pictures of both, but not sure where right now. Message me with your email address and I will email pics when I locate them.

I made a trolley using 2×4’s to help transport the table top. Trolley had 2 swivel wheels and 2 fixed wheels. Frame base, with side, slightly wider than the total depth of the table top. Two boys could lift the top on its side on the trolley then guide it whereever they needed to move it.


-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

View Wildwood's profile


2483 posts in 2340 days

#14 posted 08-25-2012 11:48 AM

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4099 days

#15 posted 08-26-2012 01:00 AM

4’ x 8’ “ plywood “ 5/8 thick sheet cut into 3 = pcs., approx 32” x 48”

connect the 3 pcs using KD ( knock down Ikea style ) connecters to form a single sheet

skip the 2×4’s around the perimeter as they are heavy and replace with plywood, join to 4×8 sheet using the same type KD connectors. These can all be 4’ in length so that joints will not be near horizontal table top joints therefor you wont sacrifice strength. Butt joints can also be connected with KD fasteners

Set table on KD saw horses………lots of examples on Youtube, again, plywood to save weight and extend life.

Done deal and all you will need to assemble is a philips screwdriver, perhaps a soft rubber mallet.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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