Arts and Crafts Play Table

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Plans for a play table with storage compartment hidden beneath acrylic glass.

The girls named this play table "the arts and crafts table."

I will tell you, I've actual made two play tables this Christmas, one to gift, and another to give, and I thought the other play table - I'll post plans in the next few days - would be the girl's favorite. 
But this is the one they love the most.

They love having their arts and craft supplies right there, protected under a sheet of acrylic glass.
I love having their arts and craft supplies organized and right there, and not everywhere else!
I made this table so the storage part is inset down just a little bit to accommodate the acrylic glass.
It's also a perfect fit for the Thumb chairs.  
Can you see in this picture that this table features legs that are slightly splayed outward?  This is to keep the table from tipping or developing loose joints over time.
If you have been working on projects this Christmas, there's a good chance you already have the scraps to build this table!  It's just some 1x3s, 1x4s, a 2x2 for the legs, and some acrylic glass that you can cut with a $2 cutter.
NOTE: My apologies for the poorly lit photos - we are going through the darkest days of the year in Alaska.
Dimensions are shown above.


Shopping List

1 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x4 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
1/4" plywood 19" x 19"
1/4" acrylic glass 19" x 19"

Common Materials
2 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
paint brush
Cut List

4 - 2x2 @ 20 3/8" (Both ends cut at 5 degree angle/5 degree bevel off square - ends are parallel to each other)
4 - 1x4 @ 19" (Short point to short point, both ends cut at 5 degree angle off square, ends are NOT parallel)
4 - 1x4 @ 5 1/2" (Both ends cut at 45 degrees off square, ends not parallel, long point to long point)
2 - 1x3 @ 19"
3 - 1x3 @ 17 1/2"
2 - 1x3 @ 8 3/8"
1/4" plywood @ 19" x 19"
2 - 1x4 @ 19"
2 - 1x4 @ 24"
1 - 1/4" acrylic glass @ 19" x 19"

Cutting Instructions

Read through plan and cut all angles carefully.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

I always do this first when working with double bevels so I know the position of each leg. Things can get confusing once you start working when your angles are this slight.

Step 2

Attach aprons to legs with tops flush, notice that the bottom inside corners of the aprons meet the insides of the leg edge.

TIP: Drill pocket holes for 3/4" stock around all top apron edges for attaching the top in later steps.

Step 3

These work to strengthen the table and hold the storage compartment in place. I used pocket holes on the underside, but you could also use 2" screws from the outsides as well.

Note that the supports sit down 2 1/4".

Step 4

At minimum, you should build the storage compartments as shown above. I added a few more. Hide screw holes to outsides.

Step 5

Step 6

You probably already did this - dry fit the storage compartment into the table.

Step 7

I built the frame first with pocket holes on the underside, and then fit around the storage compartment, then attached with glue. We also siliconed the space between so paint an be easily wiped up if that every happens - I'm sure it will.

Step 8

Finally, we cut the acrylic glass to fit and then drilled a hole for access.

Step 9

And here is my cheat sheet. Best luck building!

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Mon, 12/19/2011 - 12:49

Ana, this is awesome as usual. Although my boys do love arts and crafts, this is perfect for organizing and storing tiny lego pieces so the baby can't get to them. Way to go!

Crystal R (not verified)

Mon, 12/19/2011 - 13:53

I think I may, no, definitely MUST make this. Except, I'll have to make it taller (and maybe longer) for my 7 year old who is the size of an 11 year old.

Chelsey Sullivan (not verified)

Mon, 12/19/2011 - 14:20

This is a fantastic idea. Any mother that struggles with tiny toys or messy toys will want one of these. I was thinking this would be great for my all my daughters little polly pocket pieces. Wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing!

LizC (not verified)

Mon, 12/19/2011 - 14:43

While I love this idea for displays, or for toys that get played with elsewhere, I don't like it for stuff that's used on the table.

When they get out supplies, the only place to set them (and the paper) is on the floor or the chair. When it's time to clean up, first they have to clear the table, then lift the lid, then finally put away the supplies and replace the lid.

I'd love to see each child have a work space next to this storage table (maybe attached to either side) so they can take the lid off and then use supplies right from the table as they work, putting each item back as they're done.

Using the table as a raised caddy rather than a workspace would also mean you wouldn't have to keep the area under the table free for knees and you could mount shelving for paper, coloring books, or whatever.


Mon, 12/19/2011 - 14:48

So cute!! What a great way to store all the art supplies or other special treasures.

LisaT (not verified)

Mon, 12/19/2011 - 19:55

This is such a cute idea! It would make clean-up even more fun because the children can see the fruit of their labor and it looks pretty when their done with all the colors and items visible! Thanks, Ana, for all the great Christmas projects!

MamaJo (not verified)

Mon, 12/19/2011 - 21:07

I don't know if I would store supplies in view like that. I would frost the acrylic glass so I would not see the mess. But I think this would be a great light box table. If you don't put in the dividers and put in a rope light with the acrylic glass frosted. Thanks for the plans.

In reply to by MamaJo (not verified)


Tue, 12/20/2011 - 04:47

That's a great idea! I didn't even think about that, and I need one! (Ok, I don't know why I need it, I'm a printer, I really really want it, lol)

Jim (not verified)

Tue, 12/20/2011 - 09:06

I'm confused on the legs can you go into more details?


Mon, 12/26/2011 - 14:38

Just a minor point. If you cut the ends of legs to 5 degrees and lean them in the same 5 degrees (Angle A), the mating frame sides should be cut differently than 5 degrees (Angle A). Since the sides of the table are 45 degrees (Angle B) to the leg rotation angle A. The leg face only inclines about 3.55 degrees (Angle C).

The plan suggests 5 degrees for this matching angle but this is approximate and will not make for easy assembly.

To cut the angles accurately and on a miter saw you need trigonometric formulas or matrices OUCH, and a drawing would help.

Rotation angle of leg A = 5 deg
Rotation axis B = 45 deg

I wrote a not so simple spreadsheet to calculate different angles including the one needed for a perfect fits on the the table sides. This way the other parts can be cut at perfect angles.

If you want a copy of the spreadsheet and drawing let me know.

Fernanda D`Angelo (not verified)

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 18:24

Hi, Ana!

I`m journalist from Brazil and I`ll make a article to brazilian design magazines about products to kids, from furniture to utensils, and I would like tlak to you about your project play table "the arts and crafts table" and to know tha possibility of publishing their work in the magazine, wich is called DOCOL. Please, I need the high resolution photo about the product and a picture yourself in high resolution too.

Please, talk to me as soon as possible!

Any questions, my e-mail address is [email protected]

Sorry for my english!

Best regards,
Fernanda D`Angelo

ShaunIndiana (not verified)

Tue, 01/31/2012 - 10:27

Great Plans!! My daughters and I made this and it looks great!!!

I did make a modification for opening the top plexiglass cover. I didn't want to drill a hole in the top reducing the work space arrangement. We came up with a loading method that "lifts" the plexiglass cover up with a "secret" dowl rod from underneath.

I used 1/4" dowel rod with a washer as a stop & a wood handle for the push part. See pictures below.

To open the cover, simply push up on the dowel rod from underneath. My girls loved this "secret" way of opening it.

JPM (not verified)

Fri, 06/22/2012 - 15:42

I am sure others have probably figured this out, but nobody has posted on it. The cut list has an error on it. The 2 19" 1x4's and 2 24" 1x4's on at the end of the cut list should actually be 1x3's. The drawing in step 9 correctly shows 1x3's. If you attempt to use 1x4's like I did, you will not have enough width on the table top to straddle the dividers you make in step 4.

Otherwise, this is an excellent plan, and will be a great birthday surprise for my little one!

Leslie Shappell (not verified)

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 13:32

Thank you, Ana! This is great! I'm thinking of building two: one for legos and the other for art supplies.