My friend called me recently to with her on a shopping trip for furniture for her children’s play room. We looked at all the flimsy plastic furniture and gasped at the price tags of sturdier wooden tables and chairs. After a day of traveling from store to store, she explained what she was looking for. I told her I could build it if she sprang for the materials.
Armed with plywood, a few drawings and a few weekends, my friend’s kids have a game table and chairs they are proud to show off to friends.
The table is a simple model that is a lot sturdier than it looks. This is due to the internal framing and sturdy legs. The game boards are painted onto vinyl that is held in place by the framing. This allows you to have any type of board game you wish and storage inside the seats for toys and game pieces.
You can modify this pattern to fit any room you like; make one for the children’s game room and one for the adults to play games on. The tables can be covered with cloths for extra guest meal seating.
You will need:
- Plywood, 3/8″ furniture-grade
- 2-by-2 lumber
- General marking and woodworking tools
- Primer and paint, chalkboard paint (optional)
- Stencils and paintbrushes
- Vinyl fabric
- Wood screws and construction adhesive
- Picnic table cloth clamps
- Washable crayons, markers, etc.
I began with the table base by making a 24″ square with 2-by-2’s. I inserted 2-by-2 strips spaced evenly inside to create a center. Two ran horizontally while the other two were cut and fit inside. It creates a square at the center. This is what I wanted.
I made sure everything was level and square before continuing.
I cut four 2-by-2 boards, each 32″ long. You can adjust this length to whatever fits your needs. I attached them vertically to the inside of the inner square at the center of the base. At the top, I ensured that the four pieces were level, and then attached a piece of 2-by-2 to create a flat top. The pieces were fit inside the vertical posts. I again checked for level and square.
With this table, it’s best to proceed slowly and always check for level and square before proceeding.
Using the 2-by-2’s again, I created the top by making a 36″ square. I measured the top pedestal square and created an internal framing within the top to meet flush against the pedestal. For example, the top of the table has the outer 36″ square, the pedestal square is at the center with bracing connecting the top frame that forms another square.
For ease, I turned the table upside down and placed the pedestal at the center of the top square. I cut 2-by-2’s that ran from the edge of one square to the side of the top. The framing resembles square wheel. Screws were inserted into the 2-by-2’s from the outside of the frame to the inside of the boards.
I turned the table over and once again, checked for level and square. I covered the base and top with plywood. I enclosed three of the four sides of the pedestal with plywood. The fourth side was covered a little differently.
I covered the side with the 2-by-2, then cut the plywood to fit from that edge to the other side. I placed hinges at the short side; it forms a door. Three small hinges and a latch were added. I measured the inside space and made a few shelves to hold game pieces, toys or other items. The underside of the top was enclosed with plywood as well.
I trimmed the edges with small-sized corner molding I had left over from other projects. It looked good. I primed and painted the table with a base coat; my friend and I would allow the children to pick the final colors.
The sheets of vinyl were cut to fit the top with the edges folded over and held in place by the picnic table clamps. Together, we decided on the types of game tops such as checkers, tic-tac-toe, Hangman’s noose spelling game and others. Washable markers could be used for coloring plain sheets while one sheet was turned into a chalkboard with special paint. Colored chalk fun, anyone?
With tables, you need chairs. I saw some cute cube-shaped chairs for children in one of the stores, but the price tag was anything but. And it was just a cube; it had no other function. I decided to do something different.
I asked my friend to measure her kids for the perfect seats. That is, they can sit with their legs parallel to the floor and their feet flat on the floor.
I built four cubes using the 2-by-2’s as frames and covered them with the plywood. The top was attached with a hinge at the back. The inside of the cubes also doubles as storage for toys, game pieces and other items.
The cubes can be painted to look like alphabet blocks or the children can decorate them with stickers, paints or other ways.
Small feet, casters or felt floor protectors can be placed on the bottom of the cubes.
My friend and her children love their new, custom-made furniture. It cost far less to build than the store tables; the children also get a table top that can change from one game to another without batteries. Great during a power outage. When company comes over, a tablecloth turns it into an impromptu dining table.
- You can also build this table as outdoor furniture using concrete molds. For a more lightweight option, build the table using papercrete.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.