Once upon a time there was an Ikea coffee table.
This is a story of a coffee table’s journey to becoming a Lego table. (if you want to skip the tale, jump to the bottom for instructions on how to turn a coffee table into a Lego table)
In 1999 I moved into my first post-college, pre-marriage apartment. I was living all by myself for the first time in a tiny place in West Hollywood. Where does one go when they have no job and are on their own for the first time? Ikea! I found a rectangular, pine coffee table. I don’t think they sell the style anymore but I imagine it came from the Herfenklunk collection. It served me well, then me became we and it continued to do its duty as a place to eat dinner, rest cocktails, artfully displayed coffee table books, etc. Soon we became three and the cocktails were replaced with sippy cups and coffee table books turned into board books. It took a beating from Thomas trains and never complained a bit.
Soon we three moved across the country and expanded our living space. We (and by we I mean he would play and I would have to sit and watch) played with trains night and day and I knew we needed a designated table just for trains. Like the Giving Tree, the coffee table called out. Come boy, come and dent my soft pine with your incecent pounding. Come and play. Who was I to deny a faithful table’s wish? I sanded it down, added trim around the edge and painted it to match the new room. Voila’! Train table. Boy and table were happy.
A few years passed happily then one day the boy declared that he “wasn’t into trains anymore” and the train table became a regular ol’ toy table. It’s paint chipped, it became dusty and it’s purpose was forgotten.
Time went by and I decided that my dining room had just about had enough of the Lego explosion that had taken place. This past weekend the coffee table was granted a new lease on life. We cleaned her off, cleared away the dust and broken toys and set out to make her into a Lego table.
And the table was happy.
Should you wish to turn your old coffee table into a Lego table, here are simple instructions.
Supplies: table, wood trim, sand paper, wood glue, 3/4 inch screws, paint, Lego foundation sheets, industrial strength adhesive or epoxy (I used E 3000. Hopefully it can take a beating).
Step 1. Sand table.
Step 2. Add trim all the way around the edge. Measure and cut 1 1/4 x 1/4 trim to fit. If you don’t have a way to make a clean cut, take your exact measurements to Lowes or Home Depot and they will do it for you. Use wood glue and 3/4 inch screws to secure trim. Don’t use nails. Your child will eventually rip the trim off despite the fact that you put more nails than necessary. Take it from me and use screws. Make sure to pre-drill holes in the trim to prevent splitting.
Step 3. Paint.
Step 4. Position Lego foundation sheets on the table where you want them. Before gluing create one big sheet by connecting the individual sheets with Legos. Mark the corners of the Lego sheet on the table. DO NOT glue the sheets to the table flush up against each other without first connecting them with Legos. Carefully remove the now connected Lego sheets and set aside.
Step 5. Glue. We decided to take our large sheet apart and glue down two at a time. It’s really important to keep at least two sheets connected with Legos. If you are gluing down in segments, only apply glue to the table in the area of each segment as you go. Don’t apply all the glue at once. You’re asking for trouble. Line up the corners with the marks you made and hold firmly in place for a few minutes. When you’re ready to glue the next two sheets, have a couple of Legos attached and hanging off the edge of the pieces you are going to glue next. That way you can line them up with the sheets you just glued down. Use the Legos as a guide to connect the new sheets next to the sheets you just glued down. Again, if you just glue them flush up against each other the spacing will be off by a fraction of an inch and Lego play will become frustrating. The last thing we need is irate Lego builders.
Each of the Lego sheets were $4.99. This train table re-do cost me $40 plus glue and some new containers to sort Legos. Addison and I spent the evening sorting Lego pieces. My guess is that they will stay sorted for about 2 days and tiny Legos will get burried in the carpet but it’s worth it to see him being creative in his own space.