Up-cycled Ikea Coffee Table

traintable00 Whenever we’re at our favorite local toy store, Carlo stops and plays at the train tables. Our favorite bookstore has a train table too and Carlo always makes a beeline for it whenever we’re there. This gave me the idea for my next DIY project because the exact train table costs $350! Not only is it expensive, I didn’t want to be stuck with a cartoon-decorated kid-sized piece of furniture once he outgrew this stage/phase. And I figured I could do something similar and more “classic” but for much, much less moolah.

The train tables at the toy store and bookstore both had a lip or railing around the table top’s edge. I liked that feature because I thought the railing would help corral puzzle pieces, alphabet magnets, blocks, cars, trains, and Lego. (Lego!!! Those of you who have stepped on a wayward Lego piece know my eagerness to keep as many of them off the floor as possible.) My plan was to use an old coffee table we already had; so I figured I’d just add a “picture frame” onto its top.

Here’s how I up-cycled that old coffee table. 


Step 1. Buy and cut wood for the frame.

Armed with the measurements of the coffee table top, we made a trip to Home Depot where I scoured the lumber aisle for my frame. I picked out what turned out to be 1x2x8 pine lumber.

Here in Canada, Home Depot will cut your lumber for you for free, as long as you buy the wood from them and the cuts you need aren’t too many or too complicated.

I bought two 8 foot pieces of pine. Then I had them cut the lumber into two pieces that were 35 ¼ inches long and two pieces that were 20 inches long.

Step 2. Sand any rough edges. You don’t want your child to get splinters.

Sand the pieces of wood first with coarse grit sandpaper. And then re-sand with a fine grade sandpaper for the smoothest finish.

Step 3. Nail or screw the wood pieces together to form your frame.

I used screws because that what we have here at home. But you could certainly use nails, especially if that’s what you have handy.

traintable02Step 4. Paint the frame. Or use a stain/protective finish to protect the wood.

I just used the grey paint we had leftover from other projects.

Step 5. Glue the frame onto the table top.

Make sure to use a good, specific-for-wood type of glue. Like this one or this one. Then firmly clamp your frame in place and let the glue cure.

I learned this the hard way when after my first go-around, using “ordinary” Elmer’s white glue, the frame lifted clear off the table after a few days.

Note: I also bought clamps when we were at Home Depot buying the wood because I knew I’d need them for this step. I’m sure you could nail or screw the frame onto the table top itself but glueing, in my mind, was  the easiest route.


Aaaaaand…. Voila! Finito! That’s all, folks!

A DIY expert could probably finish everything by himself/herself (assuming he/she had all the materials and tools on hand) in a couple of hours. For me, this being my first “major” thing I had to build on my own (without any instructions, predrilled holes, or prepared-for-you screws. Oh Ikea, how you’ve spoiled me!) it took me a while. As you can see from the dates on the photos, I worked on it whenever I could. Chores, a hyperactive toddler, that Elmers-white-glue-failure, and a vacation to Washington DC got in the way. Buuuuut it’s now done. Yay!

In case you were curious… My total cost (including tax) for this project was around $35!!! But that’s because I already had the coffee table and paint.

If you wanted to recreate this project yourself, here’s a rough breakdown of the major products and their costs:


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