TBT – Duplo Activity Table

After purchasing an IKEA LÄTT table for our toddler, I had the idea of transforming it into an activity table. My original idea was to make a space station table with plenty of switches, knobs, and buttons to play with. That table is still in the works, but the design process is taking a lot longer than I thought. After receiving several Duplo sets, I switched gears to implement a Duplo activity table for plenty of Lego play space. I still wanted to fulfill the dream of an interactive space station table, so I decided to design the table to be modular. The table tops will be secured with a few bolts that can easily be removed and activity tables switched.

I began by cutting out a piece of plywood large enough for two Duplo base plates to be secured to. Since two base plates are larger than the LÄTT, this top will hang over both ends, meaning the plywood needed to be thick enough to for toddlers leaning on them. To help keep the legos on the table, I cut some bumpers out of some molding pieces.

Because I was short on time and don’t have that many clamps, I secured the bumpers with some wood glue and some pin nails.

To assist in the future tables, I made a drilling template for future activity tables, to ensure the holes are lined up.

Since this is the first table, the bolt holes are laid out to accommodate the Duplo base plates. All of the future activity tops are going to have to be designed around these holes. The table is then secured with 1-1/2 in #10 bolts with wingnuts on the bottom for easy removal.

With the nail finishes and the plywood base, I opted for a light coat of white paint that I had on hand to quickly cover the board. If I make a regular-sized Lego board in the future I’d like to take the time to put a little bit of a nicer, cleaner finish on it. It fits the rest of the IKEA table well, and most of it will be covered by the base plates anyway.

Once the paint dried, I only needed a couple wood screws to secure the base plates to the table. It’s important while screwing to hold the base plates together with some bricks so you get the right spacing between the plates, because the plates are not designed to be perfectly flush. I pre-drilled the holes in base plates, just to make sure they wouldn’t crack. I’m not sure if I needed the pilot holes, but didn’t want to take a chance with these baseplates.

After playing with it for a while, there’s a few noticeable quirks. The screws are raised up enough that it can impede Lego bricks, but since they are in the corners, I’m not worrying about them too much. A bigger problem is that I overestimated how rigid the base plates are. These Duplo base plates are fairly flexible and the base plates flex significantly when the bricks are pulled from the center of each plate. I think going back and adding a few more screws to the center of each side of each plate should help with the bend, without impeding too much brick placement during use.

From start to finish, this only took a few nap times of work, and I’m pretty happy with the end result. The little one is as well, because after installing it, I have spent the majority of every day playing with Lego on this table.

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