The finished product first.
We recently moved house and, as our 7 year old son Jake can be a bit of a worrier I decided to get him excited about the idea of moving by promising to make him a Lego table for his new room after the move. He spent much of the run-up to the move happily doodling elaborate sketches of what his table might look like and do, and once the move was complete we drew up a proper plan of what I could actually make.
This was my first ever woodworking project, so I had to borrow most of the tools and learn a lot as I went. I probably overreached by a margin, but I didn’t cut off any fingers and there were no *major* fires, so i’m happy with the result.
Once we’d measured up the area and had a rough plan, we worked out how much wood we would need. I split the table into three sections, the middle area being much like an oversized bookcase and the two side ‘D’ shaped pieces attaching to it. We were careful to consider the turning circle of the train track for the ‘D’ pieces.
I used a piece of software called MaxCut to calculate the optimal layout for the pieces I would need – so i knew how much wood to buy. I would need 4 large 2440*1220 mm sheets to cover all the pieces. I opted for mdf, as we had only just moved house and sometimes you’ve got to watch the pennies.
I figured that the trickiest part of this project would be the ‘D’ shaped shelves, so I started with those. To get the shape I wanted with a limited tool-set would be tricky, i didn’t have a table saw and I didn’t want to freehand it with a jigsaw because it would look rough. I ended up building a jigsaw rig out of spare wood and drilling a small hole at the center point of the curve for each piece – following this guide.
To attach the bottoms to the sides I drilled holes for screws and dowells. This picture isn’t very exciting, I don’t know why i took it – but you’re nearly at the end of this sentence now so no big loss.
Half of one side-piece screwed and gluedOne side-piece put together. I tried to use a dado for the middle shelf and, while the routing went well, I had a ‘mishap’ trimming the shelf to size so It’s ultimately deeper set than I would like. I ended up sanding down the inserts to meet the shelf, so they’re a bit slanty – you live and learn.The cause of the aforementioned mishap. My jigsaw blade started to bend mid cut.I cut the remaining pieces out with a circular saw that I had borrowed from a friend (thanks Julian!). I then sealed the wood with mdf sealer before priming and painting several coats of white. This took ages.Shelving inserts ready for sandingStarting to piece together the center section.Slotting together the second level of shelving
The center is done, now I can better measure up the ramps and bridge for the back
I worked out the angle of ‘rampitude’ give the distance traveled by a train as it went around the circumference of the D shape section – give that the bridged section would need to allow a Lego train (~13cm) to pass underneath. Perhaps less efficient than measuring, drawing and cutting each strut individually, I just cut the slope out and then took struts from that.
I used the jigsaw for this instead of the circular saw, which I don’t quite trust yet. The result wasn’t so neat but I still have my fingers, so I count that as a win.
Adding the ramp section to the D’s
I only have a couple of small clamps, so I used some weights to help with the gluing. These weights may look a little dusty, but that’s just because of all the lifting I do with them…. lifting breaks down the skin, leading to more dust.
Checking how it looks. The center section is already being played with.
To be sure of stability I drilled, countersunk and screwed the top into place – so i went over those areas with with some wood filler before sanding/painting/repeat/repeat/argh.
I fitted the bridge across and fixed the ‘D’s on with bolts through to the center section to prevent shifting and for added stability.
Another angle of the finished product
Next I added strip lights to the top two rows of shelving. I didn’t do the bottom row because the boxes there are for the more common colors (white, black, grey) and so are larger and would block the light.
You have to go a little slower on the down ramp to make sure the train doesn’t fall off, but in general it has worked out pretty well. An added bonus is that the Lego now stays mostly on the table so the amount of foot agony has been reduced significantly.