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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Don't throw away that train table!


We love Lego's at our house, but we don't love Lego's ALL OVER our house.  There's nothing more vicious than a Lego lurking in the dark -- waiting for a bare foot to come along.
  
We've tried the bag. 


It's a nice concept.  Lego's stay in the bag, never to leave; it's a mat to play on; it cinches up.  I know it works great for a lot of people, but it didn't work for us.  

After years of getting sets for birthdays and Christmas, the bag was full.  We had no room to actually play on the mat so the Lego's still ended up all over the carpet.  It's also hard to tuck into a corner to put away -- and too heavy for a doorknob.

I realized they needed a designated spot to play in.

Enter the train table:
Image result for Imaginarium 55-Piece Train Set


This was such an easy project.  It cost about $100 (most of which was the Lego base plates), including a second-hand, Imaginarium train table.  And it only took an hour or two from start to finish.  If you can find second-hand Lego baseplates you could cut the price significantly.

I'm not an expert, but I'll tell you how I did it -- and it's held up perfectly for almost a year.

For this table I used:
  • 4 large baseplates
  • box cutter
  • steel ruler
  • sharpie
  • strong all-purpose adhesive (2 or 3 tubes of Loctite)
  • damp rags for edge cleanup
  • moist cotton swabs for surface cleanup
  • and a plastic storage bin that rolls underneath (not pictured)





The gray baseplates were almost exactly the right size, but they did need a tiny trim.  We measured and trimmed the outside edges with a box cutter.  It shaved off the plastic like butter.  A rotary cutter might even have worked.

I numbered the back of each baseplate, with a corresponding number on the tabletop so I could piece it back together as they were when I measured them.

We trimmed them to exactly fit the two pieces of the tabletop -- so you can still lift one side or the other to wipe the Lego's off into the bin below.

I was GENEROUS with the Loctite.  

Lay the table top on a hard, flat surface and then glue all over and right up to the edges.  Press the baseplates on and then carefully clean up any glue that slipped out.

You need to make sure the baseplates are aligned perfectly.  Place the tabletop back on the table.  Snap some Lego pieces across the seams.  Trust me, this is critical.  You'll need to slide the baseplates into alignment until you can easily place pieces across the seams at every corner -- all at the same time.  I used flat pieces so I could leave them in place while it dried (really, make sure there isn't any glue where it shouldn't be).

Carefully remove the tabletop, leaving the seams connected, and place it on a hard surface to dry.  I weighted it with books for a good seal.

I left it for a week.

.   .   .   .   .

My kids and their friends play on it every day.  My little guy hums to himself for hours while he builds.  He even told me it's his favorite present of all time!



I love that they collaborate on their designs.  And everything they build has a story.  They combine their sets to make whatever they can dream up, and they keep adding to it.  They've had Star Wars battles, forts, towers...  Currently it's a hodge-podge of silly scenes.  

And for the first time ever, the Lego's mostly stay in their bedroom!  They do still get on the floor, but nothing like before.  

If your kids love Lego's, this is a fantastic project.

.   .   .   .   .

These baddies are playing poker.  They're about to get into a big fight.



 This is an arcade with endless lines.  The guy at the front grew a long gray beard while waiting for his turn.



They converted a raft into a scorpion attack vehicle -- to discourage those long lines.




There's a jungle where robots and octopuses live in trees.




And if you make Chewbacca mad, he'll make you walk the plank.




















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