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
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Jeff Novak (not verified)

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 13:35


I like your simple-to-build table but I also like the chair design. You said these chairs were stackable? Where did you get them? They look like they would be relatively simple to build. If you built them do you have the plans for that also?


Michelle (not verified)

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 04:48

I love the table but would love to make it verstile with lego boards on one side and flat on the other. Any suggestions?

Amy R (not verified)

Mon, 11/22/2010 - 14:06

I'd like to know how to make the table without pocket holes. A friend of mine wants me to make the table and chairs for her daughter for Christmas, because we are in S. Korea, and have a hard time getting anything shipped over here in less than a month (especially something big like a table and chair set). I do not have a pocket jig, and probably won't be able to order one until the 1st at least, which would leave me barely any time to get the table made by the time I got it in. Any help would be appreciated. :)

Jeff (not verified)

Mon, 11/22/2010 - 15:04

Ana, thanks so much for the link to the stackable chairs. Now I'm ready to build a set for my grandgson (only they won't be pink!:)). By the way, I've made a couple of different projects using the Kreg jig for pocket holes....and it's super easy and rock solid. I will be using the Kreg jig on this project as well.

kate @ www.bro… (not verified)

Sun, 11/28/2010 - 09:49

I was thinking the same so I could paint the table top with chalkboard paint. My question is if I just use plywood or mdf for the top can I get away with just countersinking for the rest of the project instead of using a kreg jig which I do not have? I'm just starting out with these projects and need to pace myself in buying tools.

Larry (woody) (not verified)

Tue, 11/30/2010 - 17:25

My daughter has just sent this link to me and appears that I might be building some furniture for my one year old GRANDdaughter. It appears that you might have used Google Sketch Up to create the drawings.
If so, could you share the files for the table and the chairs. Thanks, Larry

Lynne1 (not verified)

Mon, 12/13/2010 - 07:36

I am so impressed with this project Ana, you rock. I love that you offer so many suggestions for low cost projects, and also, have suggestions for recycling palettes. I have an eco blog, and I just posted an article about what you do, and why I think it's so great for an Eco DIY-er. You can find it at Keep up the good work.

Ellen Farrow (not verified)

Wed, 12/15/2010 - 06:50

I built this table last night, and my kids already love it- even without the sanding and painting! The hardest parts were creating the inset for the apron pieces (optional,I know, but I like to make everything harder!) and centering the legs/apron on the table top- because that actually required calculation, marking, and the screaming child upstairs (being watched by daddy) made those things almost impossible ;). The ingredients listed glue, but there was none mentionned in the instructions? I put some where I thought it would help...Now I have to make the chairs! Thanks for the plans, Ana!