As a kid, it seemed my dad always had a Memorial Day Weekend project planned. Sometimes it was assigned by my mom, but most of the time it was something he had come up with on his own. Now that I'm a dad, I'm trying to continue the tradition.
My son loves LEGO. A lot. And I encourage him to tinker as much as possible and whenever possible, including my frequent visits to the local B&N bookseller where they have a nice little LEGO table set up. He loves that table and has been asking for one for some time... but I don't love the price (Around $170, I believe). I've found other tables here and there, but they all have their drawbacks. One table, for example, was too short. Decker doesn't like to build while sitting on the floor or on his knees. Another table had more road/terrain than LEGO plates glued to the surface. Another table had no LEGO plates glued down and had only a cartoonish image of a city/streets/buildings on it. Another table was so wobbly that I could already hear the screams as tall LEGO gizmos toppled and broke apart.
Those of you who follow my blog posts for GeekDad.com already know where this is going -- there was simply no table that matched my requirements SO... I chose to build my own.
I initially thought about purchasing some 2x4s and plywood and finding a nice plan on the Internet for a small adjustable-height table, but I didn't want to spend all the weekend in the workshop cutting, sanding, drilling, and assembling. I wanted Decker to have something to enjoy fast AND since I knew he was getting some LEGO birthday gifts from friends and family, I needed it now.
So... Friday I took a trip to IKEA on faith. I knew they'd have to have something I could work with. And, sure enough, I found the most awesome $50 table. Perfect size, adjustable height, and even the demo unit on the floor wasn't wobbling and felt solidly built. I grabbed it along with two matching chairs (for reasons I'll explain shortly) and headed home.
I already had some square green LEGO plates but I had also purchased one large gray square plate for $15. I didn't have a layout plan yet, and I decided to let Decker have the say there.
Total time to assemble the table was about 30 minutes. The screws provided are long and the holes were accurately drilled, so this thing was tightened down and has zero wobble. The four bottom plastic pieces (2 red and 2 blue) seem to almost have been designed to make this wood table a LEGO table, and they have 3 different height settings -- Decker chose the bottom hole which gives the table maximum height. When he stands at it, the table surface is just above his waist and he can build so easily I just smile... it really does look comfortable standing and building.
Regarding the plates -- he specifically wanted "roads" so we tried a few patterns for laying out the five LEGO plates (4 green/one gray) and chose the one you see in the photos. Plenty of white "road" for cars and planes to taxi and drive around on and also just for sitting pieces for experimenting. I superglued the plates down and they are NOT coming off easily.
And regarding the chairs -- these are awesome. A bit more than I wanted to spend ($20 each), but they are the matching chairs for this table and the red lids come off and provide about 8 inches of depth for storing LEGO. (The box is about 13" x 13" square, so you can do the math and figure out how much LEGO each will hold - a LOT!) The chairs are just as solid to sit on and have no wiggle/wobble. The wood is very strong and they just look great.
Total cost for Decker's LEGO table, plates, and chairs (soon to be Decker and Sawyer's LEGO table as the 2 year old is eyeing it with intent) was just over $120 plus tax.
My next plan is to find an interesting way to hang some plastic buckets on the sides and/or underneath the table for holding more LEGO and instruction books. There's so many places to add storage on this table, but I'm in no rush so if anyone has an interesting idea, please share it here! Ideally I'd like some sort of hook system that the boys can easily unhook and rebook plastic see-through containers to, but I'm really open to any ideas.
My two sons had a dual birthday party this weekend -- the LEGO table was a big hit when the kids came indoors (from the outdoor air rocket launching party) and kept them busy while the adults visited. One of my friends is going to IKEA this week to pick up the same table and make his own at home... they've been wanting a LEGO table but haven't wanted to pay the "official LEGO" high price either.
One final note -- the SANSAD table comes with a hex wrench and this funny little black handle tool to put it in to make turning easier. Don't use it. It's much faster to just the hex wrench by itself and just turn it like a crank -- the screws go in easy enough that you'll waste time trying to use this doodad (pictured here).