Making Sawdust – Children’s Playtable

Over the holidays friends of ours purchased a play table from Pottery Barn Kids.  Naturally, my daughter fell in love with the table during a playdate.  And naturally, I did not fall in ove with paying $200 for a table of so-so construction and made from materials sourced from an unknown source.

What alternative does this leave?  Time to make some sawdust.  Okay, most people do not have a fully equipped woodshop.  I do, so a trip to Pottery Barn Kids for “research” was in order.  The table I am cloning is the Activity Table & Carts.

The construction seems solid, but I questioned the use of MDF veneer for the table top.  MDF does not have the best track record for strength when used in horizontal applications.  Just look at anyone who has owned a set of bookshelves from IKEA for a few years.  That bow you see in the shelves is the particle board, very similar to MDF, not possessing the horizontal strength to hold a load.

I chose to make my clone using a simple ladder frame with the 2″ x 2″ legs screwed into the fram at the corners.  The top, cut from 3/4″ seven ply oak veneer plywood, would be laid on the top of the frame.  The top and fram would be edged with 1/4″ x 3″ boards with a slight lip at the top to prevent items from rolling off.

The wood was mostly sourced from reclaimed sources.  Not fancy reclaimed sources like wood from 1,000 barn beams in northern Italy.  Nope.  The frame and legs were cut from scrap 2″ x 4″ studs from a construction site near my house.  It is amazing how many decent pieces of wood end up on the garbage pile at a construction site.  The plywood was rescued from the bargain bin at a home improvement store.  It was discounted down to near nothing because the edges were starting to delaminate.  When you only need a 3′ x 4′ piece you can be flexible.  Only the 1/4″ x 3″ boards had to be purchased new.

This construction resulted in the following:

I did not care about mixing wood or using wood filler because the intent was to paint to table a primary color.  One issue both my wife and I had with the original table was that the color palette was boring.  What is the point of being a kid or having kids if you cannot be bold.  Candy apple red it is:

With the wood and paint, I am probably into the table for less than $50 not including my time.  Not too shabby for some time spent making sawdust.


2 responses to “Making Sawdust – Children’s Playtable

  1. Easy table! You could also get a second piece of scrap plywood and paint with chalkboard paint on one side, roads/tracks/other on the other side for an easy flip activity table.Thanks for sharing!

    • Chalkboard paint is great. I am actually building something that will be like rotating easel with chalkboard paint, dry erase surface, a magnetic surface, and a mirror with some hidden cubbies for toys.

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