Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DIY Train Table

First step: think of an awesome gift idea for your kids two days after Christmas.  Presents are even more fun when you're not expecting them, right?!  We started with this Ikea Lack coffee table in black/brown.  It costs $39.99, but we had a gift card kicking that just abut covered the whole thing.  

Next I found some leftover plywood in the garage, that happened to be the exact right length that we needed, right down to the quarter-inch.  My husband cut it to the right width, and then worked some magic with a nail gun and some plain trim to make a little lip along the edge of the rectangle so that the board would sit snugly on top of the coffee table.  After the construction was done, I used some wood filler to mend some of the more noticeable imperfections in the plywood and any gaps between the trim and board top.  Next, I used a couple of coats of primer, and then played train tracks while the kids were sleeping sacrificed my time to methodically arrange and rearrange the train tracks to maximize the play space.  I made some markings with a pencil the general layout of the tracks so that I would know where to put the river.

Remember this sneak preview?

The most fun part was, of course, the river of glitter.  I did several more coats after this picture...

....until it really sparkled.  I also changed the bear-scat mountains into something that was supposed to look a little bit better.  Now that I look at the picture, however, I'm not so sure!

I really wanted to use some real sand along the edges of the river, but I didn't have the patience to wait for dry weather to collect sand.  The trees and bushes benefited from the addition of some fruit and flower embellishments, and the mountains got a dusting of sparkle snow.  Three coats of polyurethane finish later, the table was shiny and ready for action.

Hubby and I worked together to glue the tracks down onto the finished board, and set up some trains, people, trees, and buildings for the big reveal for the kids in the morning.  

They were thrilled, and we're hoping that the novelty doesn't wear off anytime soon!  When it does though, at least we can just take off the top and we still have a functional coffee table underneath.  We used a non-skid mat between the board and the table to hopefully protect the table.  

It was actually a fun little project with very little cost.  Since we already had the tracks, most of which were bought over the past four years from thrift stores, the plywood, the paint, and a gift card for the coffee table, I think we probably only spent about $15 on our custom DIY train table for wood filler and the edge trim.

I feel like a very useful engine mother (those of you who have watched Thomas will understand!).

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