Train table

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Forum topic by christherookie posted 10-15-2018 08:25 PM 797 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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139 posts in 3855 days

10-15-2018 08:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: train table

I’ve been tasked with creating a train table for my grandson. I’ve sketched out a number of ideas and this is where I could use some help. The parents would like a top to cover it so they can use it as a coffee table when friends come over. Easy enough. But here’s where I want to get a little creative.

Where could I store the wood cover?

I’ve thought about making cutouts in the legs so the cover can also be used as a shelf. I’ve also considered a two-part cover and sliding the two parts, somehow, under the top of the table.

I figure if I’m going to make this, I should throw some creative engineering at it…and some creative woodworkers. :)

10 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


681 posts in 1428 days

#1 posted 10-15-2018 08:55 PM

You could split the top and hinge it so it can flop down along the sides.

Seems like a rather small train table. Z scale or the wooden trains might be all that fits on a coffee table.

I built an HO layout for my son many years ago. It was roughly a dog bone layout. 4×4 ends with a 3×8 center connector.

-- Sawdust Maker

View BFamous's profile


344 posts in 929 days

#2 posted 10-15-2018 10:37 PM

The idea of the lid being stored under the train table top is my first thought. Though my second thought was that a small child (your grandson) may try to open it (and hopefully eventually also close it too when cleaning up after himself…), so whatever you design that child needs to be safe. No pinched fingers, no smashed toes.

So you may want to separate the top into more than 2 pieces do they are more manageable for a youngin.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

View Artie623's profile


116 posts in 669 days

#3 posted 10-16-2018 12:11 AM

Build the table at least 15” high… imagine a picture frame with a center that rotates on its axis…. one face finished…. the other a train layout, of course everything has to be secured very well…. but a simple layout should have few challenges in that respect. Minimum interior table width should be 22” in n-scale… you can do less… but this would look better and give him room to play with other aspects of the layout.

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116 posts in 669 days

#4 posted 10-16-2018 12:12 AM

View Brian Talbert's profile

Brian Talbert

38 posts in 879 days

#5 posted 10-16-2018 12:13 AM

Assuming wood Brio style trains, yes?

Take a look at this concept:

Essentially the table top is a grid of smaller interlocking squared with track sections embedded. They can be flipped over for an even surface. This is a cool idea and the smaller pieces can be safely handled by a child.


View Kazooman's profile (online now)


1515 posts in 2760 days

#6 posted 10-16-2018 12:43 AM

- Artie623

Earth to Artie….. Nice pic, but how does this relate to train tables? Just curious. I must be missing some inside joke, but after a thousand posts I fail to see it.

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116 posts in 669 days

#7 posted 10-16-2018 02:48 AM

There was something about updating my profile picture… it landed here ??.,., oh well, that’s a real nice piece of wood at least! My apologies. Duh.

View olegrump's profile


97 posts in 1031 days

#8 posted 11-26-2018 01:59 AM

As mentioned above, I’d plan on a top that folds down to the sides. This will not only get the top out of the way when it’s time to play trains, but can be provide sides so when “Junior” gets some Casey Jones type inclinations (and he WILL!) the edges of the split top will prevent the trains from flying onto the floor. Hey, why not paint some mountains and sky onto the top edges of the folded down top. When closed, the “landscape” can be facing downward, and not interfere with the coffee table aspect.

View BroncoBrian's profile


894 posts in 2767 days

#9 posted 11-26-2018 02:13 AM

I don’t like this project. A challenge is fun, but when a non-craftsman gove a craftsman an idea, it goes sideways quickly.

Ask them what their favorite coffee table would look like. Then draw the minimum requirement for a train table. Then try to fit the train table into their design. It will be obvious how to do it, or why not to do it.

-- A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

View MrRon's profile


5925 posts in 4052 days

#10 posted 11-26-2018 06:49 PM

Are you thinking a model railroad layout, or just a flat surface for a temporary train set? That will determine how you build it. If the latter, the table top can be a split 2 piece design that opens to form a surface that is twice the size when open. If the former, that is not so easy to do, as there will be track, scenery, structures, etc to deal with. It is either a coffee table or a model railroad layout. It can’t be both.

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