My toddler really wanted a train table, but the last thing I wanted was another thing taking up space in my house. The best solution was to build a train table that fit perfectly under his bed. This way we could roll the train table away when we weren’t using it. I could have bought one already made but I wanted to make sure it fit in the space we had. Also, I wanted the train table to be a decent size and the pre-built ones weren’t as big as I wanted.
Measure the space the train table will go in and then look for a play mat with those dimensions.
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The first thing I did was measure the space under the bed. There are support legs in the middle of the space so I measured the one side it would go on for width, length and height. Once I determined how big I could go I started looking for a road themed play mat with similar dimensions. I found the Children’s Play Mat Carpet on Amazon. This play mat came in four sizes and the 32″ x 48″ was perfect for my space. I ordered the mat and waited for it to come before I did anything else.
Cut the binding around the mat off so the 1×4 railings sit flush on top of the plywood.
When the play mat arrived I cut the binding off with utility scissors and re-measured. I lost some inches all around after cutting the binding. Also, the mat wasn’t exactly 48″ inches long to begin with so I am glad I measured after. Once I knew the “new” dimensions of the play mat I allocated some extra space all around.
After I cut the binding off the mat was 31.5″ x 46.” At Home Depot I had a piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood cut a half inch wider than the mat. My piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood was cut 32″ x 46.5.” If you are new to working with lumber, like me, know that when they say 1 inch by 4 inch they really mean .75 inches. Not knowing this could really throw your project off size. For the railings I had them cut (x2) 1×4’s at 46.5″ and (x2) 1×4’s at 30.5.”
Items used to make an under bed train table
Play Mat = 31.5″ x 46″
3/4 inch thick Plywood = 32″ x 46.5″
1×4 = 30.5″ (x2)
1×4 = 46.5″ (x2)
sandpaper, wood filler, paint, paint brush, 2 inch wood screws, 3/4 inch wood screws, a handle and castor wheels
Prepare the wood
I sanded the 1×4’s and the plywood all around the edges. There were some “gaps” in the side of the plywood so I filled those places in with wood filler. While the wood filler was drying I painted the railings blue (my toddler’s favorite color). Once the wood filler was completely dry I sanded the plywood one more time. Then I painted all around the edges of the plywood too.
Glue the play mat to the plywood and screw the railings on
Next I used Gorilla heavy construction glue to glue the mat to the plywood. This was probably over kill on the type of glue but I had it handy so that is what I used. Once that dried I drilled pilot holes on the back side of the plywood and then drilled the 1×4 railings to the plywood. I attached one of the longest pieces first, then the two small pieces, and finally the other long piece. When I went to attach the final piece my plywood was overhanging a bit. Easy fix, I pressed the long board up against the two short pieces made a mark of where it should fall and then used my hack saw to trim it off. Of course I had to do a little sanding and painting on that side again.
Add a handle and castor wheels
To make sure I got the holes right for my handle I photocopied the back of it. Then I used the copy to align my holes exactly right. Finally, I flipped the train table over and attached a castor wheel to each corner using 3/4 inch wood screws.
This train table cost me about $80 to make myself and the best part is it is the exact size that I wanted it to be. I bought a 100 piece triple-loop wooden train set from Amazon that included 16 trains and cars and my toddler was in business. He loves his train table and I love that I can put it away when it isn’t being used.
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