Introduction: IKEA Trofast LEGO Table Conversion
LEGO and IKEA recently collaborated on some neat little storage/building boxes but what if you're looking for something a little bigger for a playroom/rec room setup? With two kids and an ever expanding LEGO collection this is exactly the situation we found ourselves in.
Enter the Trofast storage-table unit. It's customizable shelving (mix and match deep and shallow bins as best fits your needs) and kid friendly height make it the perfect candidate to be the base of a inexpensive but highly functional LEGO table.
- IKEA Trofast Storage Unit - This is what I modified but this project could be applied to almost any flat surface.
- 1" x .5" Furring Strips - Take the time to check for the straightest, cleanest pieces you can find as these are notorious for being warped and cracked.
- Polyurethane Spray Coating - Optional, but if you know kids..., or replaceable with your favorite wood surface protection.
- 4x Large LEGO Base Plates
- Small, Strong Magnets - Optional - I used neodymium magnets from an old electric toothbrush head.
- Glue - Wood glue for, well, the wood, and Gorilla glue for the base plates and magnets.
- Nail Gun - Plain old hammered nails or screws should work fine and you might also get away with nothing but wood glue.
- Weight - Paint cans, dumbbells, the guilt from that one thing in the summer of '98. Just some heavy stuff to hold things in place while the glue dries.
- Rotary Tool (Dremel)
- 4x2 Lego Pieces - Used to hold spacing between the base plates.
Step 1: Prep
Before getting into the more serious additions there is one not perfect feature of the basic structure that needs taken care of. The side plates on either end stick up above the top surface ever so slightly. In theory you could cut down the rail pieces that will sit on the lip to compensate for the extra height but that will require additional tools and, for me at least would have been harder than just using my oscillating saw to cut the lip flush with the rest of the top surface.
Step 2: Frame
The build proper starts with a simple frame around the outer edge of the top surface and splitting the area in half. Pine furring strips provide not only the perfect size for this job but they are also cheap and match the original wood.
For the corners I chose to do a simple butt-joint since that matches the rest of the cabinets construction but a mitered or other style of joint would be perfectly acceptable.
The frame pieces were initially set with wood glue and then strengthened with brad nails from a pneumatic nail gun. Depending on your available tools and skill set there are numerous other methods that would work just as well, or better, including doweling, screws, etc.
Step 3: Base Plate Support
Since building on the base plates will be easier without a lip around the outside, there needs to be some supports to lift them up. The support also needs to be pretty tight together so that when you go to press a brick onto the base plates they don't flex excessively.
Use more furring strips to fill one side of the tabletop. The pattern isn't really as important as making sure the gaps are small. Shoot for less than an inch. The smaller the gap the stiffer the base plates will be. The one thing to consider with the pattern that was a lesson learned for me is to just make sure you have support along the four seams where your base plates will meet in the middle.
Step 4: Seal
If you used any nails or screws to build your frame you'll want fill all those holes before you move on to any other finishing steps.
I kept my finish simple, just sanded and sprayed with a polyurethane coating, but you can get as involved as you'd like. Stains, paints, fancy coatings, it's all on the table.
Step 5: Cut Base Plates
With the finish on your frame drying its the perfect time to get to work preparing the base plates, which are slightly too large as they come from LEGO. If you build your frame the same as I did then you can remove strips from two of the edges, one 3 studs wide the other 6, at they will fill the area very nicely.
As you can see in the pictures, I highly recommend using strips of bricks as cutting guides which will give you nice straight edges and make sure that bricks will fit nicely on the plates without an over or under hang.
Step 6: Glue Baseplates
Coat your supports with a strong all-purpose glue, I used standard Gorilla glue, and place your base plates down. Once they're down you'll want to attach some bricks across the seams to assure that you'll be able to build across the plates when they dry.
With everything secure, pile on a bunch of weight as a clamp and take a break until the glue has cured. Once it has you may have some clean up to do on the edges and in the seams but a pick or knife blade should be able to quickly dispense of that.
Note: If you look at the picture of the support here and from the Support step you'll see I realized my mistake in not reinforcing the base plate seams and added some additional blocks.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
A completely optional feature is a removable divider bar for the bin side of the table, ostensibly so two kids can have their own place to keep pieces. I used a piece of furring strip with a couple pieces of scrap sheet steel glued underneath, matched to embedded magnets in the table. Another tip, learned in hindsight, is to place the magnet/metal interface on the inside of the frame and end of the divider respectively. With it on the bottom it's a little too easy to knock out of position.
Other than that the only thing left to do is load it up with bricks and get to building! (And throw a picture or two in the comments, along with any questions or ... comments.)
Participated in the