This clever invention features a play space to set up a fantastic streetscape, a secret storage compartment, plus a removable top that’s a whiteboard on one side and blackboard on the other. It’s made of readily available, inexpensive materials and is easy to build. Fun for all!
Gather your supplies
• A Wide legs (2) 590 x 450 x 18mm laminated pine or plywood
• B Narrow legs (2) 554 x 450 x 18mm laminated pine or plywood
• C Long cleats (2) 42 x 19 x 554mm pine
• D Short cleats (2) 42 x 19 x 516mm pine
• E Support rails (2) 120 x 19 x 554mm pine
• F Cross rails (2) 120 x 19 x 165mm pine
• G Tray base 203 x 203 x 19mm offcut from legs
• H Play surface 554 x 554 x 6mm MDF
• I Tabletop 592 x 592 x 16mm melamine board
• J Short edging (2) 42 x 19 x 592mm pine
• K Long edging (2) 42 x 19 x 630mm pine
• L Blackboard 592 x 592 x 6mm MDF
You'll also need
Primer, sealer and undercoat; acrylic enamel paint in colours of your choice; blackboard paint; pressure sensitive spray adhesive; green and blue stiffened felt; pompoms; drop sheet.
Note: Laminated pine is available in 1800 x 450mm sheets ($25-30). Keep it dry and out of direct sun. A good alternative for laminated pine is to use 18mm-thick plywood.
Cut 4 legs (A, B) to size and mark in shape of legs (the cut-out size is centred and 310mm wide x 235mm high). Measure 25 x 25mm at each top inside corner and each side of inside of 1 leg at bottom to find centre for curves. Mark in curves, which are a 25mm radius. Cut out using jigsaw, or for perfect curves at top inside corners, use a 50mm hole saw first before finishing cuts with jigsaw. The actual radius is not important, but radii should be same throughout. Repeat for remaining legs. Cut cleats (C, D), support and cross rails (E, F), tray base (G) and edging (J, K) to length.
Predrill clearance holes to join legs by measuring in 9mm from edges and boring 4 equally spaced holes up each side.
Put timber pieces on drop sheet. Undercoat 1 face and edges of legs. Undercoat cleats, support and cross rails, tray base and edgings. When dry, turn over and undercoat other faces. Allow to dry.
Paint legs and edging different colours. Two coats of acrylic enamel will dry quickly and give protection and good coverage. For a harder-wearing surface, you can use oil-based enamel, but drying time will add 1-2 days to project. The colours used here are Dulux Weathershield True Red, Quince Jelly (orange), Bold Yellow and Rollercoaster (blue). Also paint MDF for blackboard (L) with blackboard paint. The other pieces can remain simply undercoated.
Apply glue to edge of 1 narrow leg and screw wide leg to it, making sure outer edges are flush and joint is square. Predrill pilot holes so you don’t split timber. Repeat to screw all legs together.
From top inside of each leg, measure down 75mm. Apply glue to cleats and screw to inside of leg assembly.
Cut a 42 x 19mm notch out of top of each end of support rails to fit around cleats. Then screw support rails to cross rails to form a 165 x 165mm square in middle. Screw to tray base underside, then screw rail assembly to legs so tops of rails and cleats are flush.
Cut MDF panel for play surface (H) to size and mark in a 186 x 186mm square in centre. Plunge cut with a power saw, saving square for tray lid. Mark border around hole, plus roads and a stream. Use these as a guide to cut out felt for grass and stream.
Paint border around hole and roads for toy cars with blackboard paint, then screw MDF to cleats.
To glue felt in place, spray MDF where felt is to go, including tray lid, and back of felt with adhesive. Hold can 200-250mm from surface to apply. Wait 2-5 minutes until tacky, then align and glue down. Glue pompoms to tray lid for handle.
Cut tabletop (I) to size. Predrill, apply glue, then screw edging to tabletop, fixing short edging first. Predrilling is very important to stop manufactured board from splitting.
Sand 1 surface of tabletop well to provide a key for spray adhesive. Glue blackboard to sanded side of tabletop so kids can draw on shiny side with whiteboard markers and create chalk art on blackboard side.