Train Table / Coffee Table / Chest

  • Advertise with us
Project by swirt posted 06-17-2010 04:57 PM 5998 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This Train Table / Coffee Table / Chest was made for my son. He needed a train table with a ledge so his train set didn’t keep getting pushed off the table as he played with it. Since this was going in our living-room, I also wanted it to serve as a coffee table and a storage chest.

The problem with it being a chest and a train table I solved by making the top lift off rather than be hinged. We can lift it off, put stuff away, then set it back down without disturbing the train or anything else that is on it.

The entire piece is made of pine. Due to the limitations of time (yes I was building this days before his birthday) I had to go with Lowes pine. Yes it was too expensive and took a lot of sorting at the store, but this is the corner I backed myself into by doing this project last-minute.

The panels are tongue-and-grooved with match planes they are joined at the corners by through dovetails.

The edge banding is free floating except glued on one long side to allow for wood movement. The corners of the edges are joined with halfblind dovetails as I thought they would wear a little better being that the corner is likely to get more wear and tear.

Finish is amber shellac with just a little BLO mixed in. It really needed 3 more coats, but time ran out. It is still on my “finish this up later list.”

The entire train table chest build spans several blog posts so I’ve just put the link to just the starting page. Sketch-up plans are available there as well.

Mostly this was done with donut powered tools, but I did use my bandsaw to rough out the arches for the legs, and my router to cut the pattern, round over all the edges and cut the dadoes.

-- Galootish log blog,

9 comments so far

View Kate's profile


400 posts in 4380 days

#1 posted 06-17-2010 06:43 PM

looks great, love the planes.

-- Kate,

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3440 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 06:55 PM

Great idea.

My table is always clogged with thomas and other toys.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View a1Jim's profile


117721 posts in 4083 days

#3 posted 06-17-2010 06:57 PM

Very nice looking table.

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 3453 days

#4 posted 06-17-2010 07:21 PM

Great project and blog, Thanks!

-- Smitty

View swirt's profile


4216 posts in 3478 days

#5 posted 06-17-2010 08:01 PM

@Kate, match planes are so much fun and so easy to use, I think I subconsciously come up with projects to use them on.

@Ianwater, not sure if you use the trick of putting earthquake putty / sticky-tak under the track to keep it in place, but that works well. Unfortunately, I discovered, sticky-tak does not stick to a shellac finish. I had to put a piece of 1/4” mdf down on top of the table to get the stuff to hold the track in place. My son is not quite to the age where he can build his own track creations yet, so the sticky stuff helps hold it in place as he plays.

-- Galootish log blog,

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 3624 days

#6 posted 06-17-2010 09:55 PM

Great looking table, interesting design, very functional and attractive, love your work on the joinery, and overall look is wonderful. Your pics are great, with the added labels and identifications, looks very professional. Good job

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View swirt's profile


4216 posts in 3478 days

#7 posted 06-18-2010 03:41 PM

Thanks itsmic, though I am not sure the praise on the joinery is deserved. The photography somehow manages to obscure some of the gaps. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4591 days

#8 posted 02-24-2011 04:11 AM

That is a great idea, an especially good job for a last-minute plan. The train table idea will be useful for many years.
Very nice!


View swirt's profile


4216 posts in 3478 days

#9 posted 02-24-2011 04:50 AM

Thanks Barbs, The table is now a year and a half older. Has a few dings and teeth marks on it, but my son uses it daily and hopefully will for several more years. Then it can go back to just being my coffee table ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics