Clara Table

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 11/08/2010 - 19:47
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This simple children's play table is easy and economical to build, at the perfect height for toddlers and preschoolers.

But then, you already knew there had to be a table to match those stackable four dollar chairs from yesterday.

Clara might be just 18 months old, but the table is plenty big enough for her almost four year old cousin, Grace (who yes, depends on hand-me-downs and refuses to brush her hair).  And I won't make you look at the photo, but I in fact can sit at this table with my legs under the apron, on those chairs, comfortably.  So don't be intimidated about making this table for your preschooler, or even grade schooler.

BUT the table is small, perfect for small spaces.  You could put up to four chairs around it, but it would be tight.

The girls were playing library with their pretend library.  You can get those plans (and more pretend play plans) right here.

And of course, Clara's table plans are right here.  Oh, did I mention that my sister and I put this table together in literally minutes?

Dimensions shown above.


Shopping List

1 – 1×8, 8 feet long
1 – 2×2, 8 feet long
1 – 1×3, 8 feet long
1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws
Wood Glue

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

3 – 1×8 @ 32″ (if your 1×8 is EXACTLY 96″ long, cut these boards at 31 7/8″ to account for the saw blade)
4 – 2×2 @ 21 1/4″ (legs)
2 – 1×3 @ 17 1/2″ (End Aprons)
2 – 1×3 @ 27″ (Side Aprons)

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


Step 1

Cut your Boards and Drill Pocket Holes

Many of you do not have a Kreg Jig™. My sister, who took wood shop in highschool, has built quite a bit of furniture, and showed me how to use a circular saw the first time, has never seen a Kreg Jig™. After this project, she’s getting one. Also consider this. A similar table and chair set runs around $240. My cost for this table? Seventeen dollars. Spend the cost differential on a Kreg Jig™. Its worth it.

Cut your boards, according to the cut list. Measure the 1x8s and make sure they are in fact 7 1/2″ wide. Mine up here in Alaska are, but others say theirs are 7 1/4″ or 7 3/8″. If your 1x8s are narrower, take the difference, multiply it by three, and subtract that from the cut length of the 1×3 side aprons.

Next, drill all your pocket holes. I like to make Xs where all the pocket holes go as I cut.

Step 2

Build the Tabletop

There are other ways to build this tabletop without pocket holes, but in order to get a tabletop worthy of coloring and cheap, this was the answer. I love using solid wood in this application because you can always sand and refinish – and you just might have to. This table was left unfinished for about 3 hours. When I got the paint brush out, it was covered in very large awkwardly written Gs. A few minutes of sanding beats being upset any day.

Step 3


Drill all your pocket holes first (see step 4) and then attach the legs to the aprons. I like to either inset my aprons slightly or to drill my pocket holes on the outsides to keep the legs from splitting. Adjust for square.

Step 4


Now is the fun part. Line the table top up with the base and screw together. The coolest thing about pocket holes is that it sucked up any differences in the tabletop. Sometimes when you join boards that are not perfectly square, your tabletop isn’t smooth. The pocket holes forced the tabletop square with the aprons.

Finishing Instructions
Finish Used
My table was filled with wood filler, two coats. Then I sanded with 120 grit sandpaper. Finally, I primed and added two coats of Valspar High Gloss White trim paint. For more general building instructions, see Get Started Section.

Please excuse my typos. Today’s post was put together with the help of an 18 month old, a three year old, and a six year old. Keyboards must be fun if Mom spends so much time using one


Faith (not verified)

Mon, 11/08/2010 - 20:05

Perfect for our toddlers!

Can you suggest a "Starter" list of tools that could be used to make a lot of your furniture? I'm planning on making shelves, beds, a table (or two) and would ultimately like to make my dream entertainment/media center. The only thing stopping me is the lack of time (twin toddlers!) and TOOLS! I know it would be an awesome outlet for me! I'm definitely a hands-on, build-a-house kinda girl, but have no clue where to start when it comes to BUYING tools. (And I'm the handy one in the family! LOL) Any suggestions for "must-haves"?

Thank you so much! I can't wait to start building & creating a home I love, where everything inside reflects our love! :)

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 11/24/2011 - 22:15

The "Kreg Pocket Hole Jig" is a must-have. I've always used a nailgun, but when I tried this "Kreg Pocket Hole Jig" it makes builing furniture so EASY!! I've only seen them sold at Lowes or and ranging from about $50 to 150 depending on which kit.

veronica (not verified)

Mon, 11/08/2010 - 20:26

I was just going to ask the same question as Faith. I would love to start building, but as far as tools go I have nada! Would love suggestions on what one would need to get started.

Mahalo!! Love all your work.

Audre O. Taylor (not verified)

Mon, 11/08/2010 - 20:41

Anna this is adorable! Thank you so much, you are awesome! Wow my list of stuff to build keeps growing...

Tara Morin (not verified)

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 02:17

Can you do a post on how to do pocket holes as well as what you need to make pocket holes??? I LOVE your stuff and website. We're getting ready to move provinces, so we're depleating lots of furniture. Once we get settled into a new home again, I can't wait to make all of my 'favourites'!! Until then, I will continue to enjoy your site! Thank yOU!

Tanja (not verified)

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 02:57

Faith.... take a look on this web site at the top where Ana put a tab called "Get Started". Click on it & scroll, scroll, scroll (past the beginner plans) and you will see the whole list of all basic tools for beginners. :)

Valerie (not verified)

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 03:18

Just when I thought I knew exactly what I was getting my kids for Christmas! My girls would love this. I wonder if I can build it without them knowing? Hmmmm.
Thanks Ana, this one is going into the faves folder.

Stephanie (not verified)

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 04:14

Faith, go to Ana's homepage and click the the second pink tab "Getting Started". There you will find a list of tools to get you started.

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