How to Build a Train Table

There are a lot of benefits and advantages that can be availed by learning how to build a train table. The 3 most probable reasons would be the cost you save, the practicality and the control. The building you or your kid’s homemade train table would be far cheaper than buying a pre-made, ready-to-play and use train table. It is also practical because you can choose what materials you want to buy and use to create your train table. Given that, you’d probably end up crafting a much more durable, sturdy and long lasting table. Lastly, you can control most aspects of the train table such as height, length, width, color, aesthetics, storage space and more.

Most people lack the confidence to create their own because they have always conceptualized the process of how to build a model railroad table as a hard thing to do. What they do not know is that there are only several steps to take and most of them require minimal carpentry skills. Crafting your own train table is a simple project provided that you know the basics of using tools or equipment. Here’s a great resource to guide you every step of the way: How to build a train table.

In addition, learning how to build a toy train table and actually creating one would be more satisfying and joyful to look, especially when your kid is using or playing with it. They would probably appreciate it more due to your efforts rather than just picking one out in the store or on the internet.  And as you work with your carpentry workbench, it is also a good time to teach your kids on how to use the tools properly as well as a great bonding time for the both of you, all the wonderful stuffs you can possibly have in crafting your own. That is why we have decided to give you a guide that can be used as a reference or guideline in building your ideal train table.

How to Build a Train Table for Kids

There are only a few steps to take and follow. You do not need to worry or think too much about it as it can be very simple and easy.

Here’s a quick summary, each step explained further below:

How to build a train table:

  1. Determining the right size
  2. What lumber or wood and hardware do you need?
  3. Table Support
  4. Cut down the lumber
  5. Assemble the frames
  6. Attach the plywood
  7. Level your table
  8. Enjoy!

Step-1 – Determining the right size.

As you all know, train toys have different scales and different sizes and ratios. The size of your table should and must go along with the size of your train set or you can have it more but make sure not to go less. A spacious table is not a bad thing rather than having it short and could not fit your train set.

Going on proper sizing, an HO-scale train set would require a 4 by 8 ft. table. HO-scale trains uses an 18 inch to 22 inch radius and a 4 x 8 table could definitely fit it in. This table is also applicable to 027-scale trains as most of this train set uses curves that are tighter or is proportional to the given table size. An N-scale and the tiny Z-scale train set however would find a 4 x 8 train table too wide and spacious because they are smaller in size and in radius. Building 2 by 4 could do the trick but like we said earlier, it is okay to have more space than less.

Step-2 – What lumber or wood and hardware do you need?

This part will require you to be a little more meticulous when choosing a lumber to use. It is implied that the table we will build must be strong and sturdy. When thinking about the surface or workspace area, the plywood needed must be thick or is not thinner than half an inch. The wood size in building the frame, regardless if you are building a 2 x 4 or a 4 x 8 table is a 1 x 3 lumber (4 pieces). For the plywood size, you can simply just get a 4×8-plywood as it is highly sufficient to cater tothe space required by different train sizes. If you want to be more specific and want to build a 2 x 4 table then get a 2×4-plywood. Lastly, you would want to have several pieces of 1 and a half inch flat headed screws. This type of screw creates a shallow hole and consumes a smaller diameter. If there are none, then a simple long nail would do.

Step-3 – Table Support.

If you have noticed in the previous step, we did not specify any requirements for the support as we still need to decide on how we want our table to stand or lay out. There are so many layouts you can choose from. You can have the table be laid down and vertically store it or rest it on top of two sawhorses, craft it with cinder blocks or make it as a foldable table. But for most train table set, the common support design is attaching legs for a permanent train or activity space.

Step-4 – Cutting down the lumber.

We first need to put the frames into consideration. Given that the 1 x 3 lumber is of even length, you must leave 2 of the 4 pieces 8-foot 1 x 3 lumber uncut as you would use them for the lengthy side of the frame. You need cross-braces to be put on each end and 2 braces on the sides, making it a total of 4. The braces requires some precision as you do not want to have some parts longer than the other or it won’t fit at all. The narrow part of the 1 x 3 wood must have a close measurement to ¾ inches. And in order for the cross-braces to fit, it must be cut to about 46 and half inches. You need to have careful measurement conducted so that it will be a good fit. To avoid any discomfort or if you lack and confidence in cutting to an appropriate measurement, hardware stores usually offers cutting services right after you purchased. It can actually save you some time if you do and just assemble, connect and screw or nail down the wood once you get home. You just need to have the calculation your measurement.

Step-5 – Assembling the frames.

Slowly and carefully lay out the 4×8-plywood on the floor with the right side facing up. Properly place the both 8-foot 1 x 3 lumber on each corner, aligning with the plywood. You now need to slide in the 46 and half inches of cross-brace you made at both ends and connect them by hammering down a nail or with the flat headed screw as suggested earlier. This is to match the dimensions of the outer part of the plywood. You can now then attach another set of cross-braces in the same manner and measure each side to check out whether or not it is equally spaced or forms a square. Doing step-5 ensures that the plywood and framework are evenly measured and squarely matched.

Step-6 – Attaching the plywood.

After you square the framework evenly, carefully trace it on the plywood’s edges using a pencil. This will serve as your mark as you lift up the framework and attaching the plywood on time. By tracing, it will allow you to align the plywood and the framework easily. Now, rest the framework down on the floor in the right position and place the 4×8-plywood on top. Carefully match the sides or the edges and connect the cross-braces using a nail or a flat headed screw. In attaching the inner cross-brace, you can drill or nail in between the trace you have made earlier at a nice vertical angle. Note that the side braces should have at least 5 screws with equal intervals and inner cross braces with at least 3. Be aware and place all screws, 2 inches far from the corners of the short side so that you won’t hit or overlap with the existing nails you have put there previously.

Step-7 – Leveling your table.

Now slowly place your table-top (plywood) above the supports you created. With the use of a level, you can insert some spacers on the corners of the table frame until you have perfectly reached the right table leveling. You can also try to be tackier and explore different table height so you can find comfort for you and your kids as you play or do your activities. Some kids might want it lower and do cross-seating position as they play. It all depends on your preference. It is also very important that the table is leveled as most train sets are sensitive to the surface to where they are laid out. You do not want to have an even angle or table-top and find out that your train set keeps on derailing or tipping off. An even table-top or surface also keeps your kids train accessories and parts on top. This can help in avoiding scattered pieces.

Important Note: This is just a simple process, design and aesthetics of how to build a 4×8 train table. You can also learn to improve your concept by learning how to build a train table with drawers. Other features you want to add such as storage space, drawers, bins or other more is based on your imagination and creativity. Here’s a link to the perfect tutorial for how to build a train table.

For an additional reference – This is a video of some other way of how to build a wooden train table:

It is actually quite fun to build your own custom train table. You can learn stuffs and improve your carpentry skills.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Train Table at Home

A child often discovers the wonders of a train toy by passing on malls, toy stores and book stores with a train table and train set lay out in one corner. You’d actually see the sparkle in every child eye’s as they passed through. How it attracts works like magic. Some would even actually ask you for a set themselves right on the spot. Do not look at it as a bad thing. Rather than getting your child a doll or a toy gun, it would actually be in your greater advantage if they would ask for a train set. A train set is an educational toy and holds a high percentage of benefits and minimal disadvantages.

The only downside on this however is that when the train table your kids saw in the mall or stores will be actually compared with the table you made for them at home. Some would possibly love your work but there would still be a greater chance for them to get disappointed, frustrated and be bored using your homemade train table.

In every single thing you have, there is always this pros and cons list that that acts as attributes in order for you to compare on thing to another. In relation with having a home train table, it would be the benefits and negatives you can have in building or purchasing and putting it in your home for your kids. The following below are a close-to-complete list of advantages and disadvantages of a train table at home.


They are very pleasing and entertaining to watch.

  • A train table and a train set do not only works as a play or toy set but it could also add flavor to a home or environment. It has this decorative effect that brings out a lively entertainment and fun. Most people even use a train table and a train set during the holidays to bring out the spirit of the holiday theme.

Train table keeps things more organized.

  • Playing on the floor or on any other table can keep you or your children’s train set and accessories a little bit messy. Small pieces can be hard to find once it falls off or get scattered around. Most train table has elevated edges to keep things on top of the surface. It is a in your great interest if a train table you crafted has the same feature.

It keeps the tracks protected from getting knocked by kids.

  • Most kids cannot hold their excitement to get close to the train set as they play with it. You really can’t blame them for that but you could get the train set protected. The train table can get the train set and the tracks a stable ground and give it some protection from getting knocked down by being to close. Falls or bumps can affect your train set’s durability and a train table can greatly prohibit that from occurring.

It keeps your children safe.

  • Laying the train set down on the floor, your children at a young age might get injured if they accidentally stepped on the train set. The train table keeps the train set on an elevated position prohibiting accidents from occurring.

Add more comfort for adult train lovers.

  • Adult train enthusiast who owns and loves to play with trains would prefer to have a train table rather than laying it down on the floor. Playing on the ground is tiresome and not at all a good body angle for an adult height. It can easily strain your body and might even give back pains. A train table also provides some adults who own a train for decorative purposes to keep it protected from young home visitors or viewers.

Homemade train tables can be crafted to serve different purposes.

  • You can add drawers on different sides to make it a table that could not only be used as a train table set but also used for storage. A drawer can keep train parts and accessories if dismantled and makes assembly much easier as all parts are within the table and in your arm’s reach. It can also be designed with a built-in play board on top to add design to your train theme. In addition, a train table that is not in use or does not have any train sets on top can be used for other activities such as doing homework or doing arts and crafts, etc.


  • A 4 by 8 train table is the standard size. That size could take up a lot of space in a regular home. Setting it up inside the living room or the bed room consumes most area and greatly restricts movement. That is why most train tables are custom-crafted to have storages or bins under it so that train parts and accessories can be stored when not in use and the table can serve as a living room table or a bed room table.
  • Unlike being laid out the floor, a train table limits your train track layout’s imagination and varying it on its size. You cannot freely purchase and add more tracks for your train to run through because you are trying to make it fit on top of your train set table. The only option you have would be a train track layout going up instead of expanding on the sides. On the bright side, there are die cast made train sets that has stack tracks, it is a type of track that is made to stack up. You can have your ideal train track layout on an upper direction.
  • There are cases that children’s easily loses interest or gets bored on a train set on top of a train table due to the limited action and movement they can make. You probably then decide to lay the train set down and figure out what to do with your large homemade train table as it consumes a lot of space for and having a useless cause.


A standard size train table might not work that great for children but there are so many ways to learn on how to build a train table for kids in order for you to create a train table much suiting for their choice or preference such as from size, height, width, play space and more.

What about a train table for Schools?

We have talked about a train table and set on malls, book stores or toy stores but do you know that most of it is glued after the installation? Yes, that is correct. Most of this train tables and sets are there not to provide kids learning or help them enhance their skills. It was put there for entertainment purposes so it’s not that educationally beneficial for kids who is being bought their and just watch the train ran its course.

In schools however, building a train table and setting up a train set promotes a learning through fun and play experience for kids. Trains are actually one of the most popular choices of educational toys in schools. It is an added tool to those wooden blocks and building toy center. It will further enhance their comprehensive skills such as color and shape identification, reasoning skills, hand-eye coordination skills, number and alphabet familiarization and more.

But again it has some negativity. As we have said earlier, there is always a positive and negative side. There are at least a few cons you need to consider. One is that a train set, especially the ones with motorized train engine car is very entertaining which could lead to children wanting to have more play time at school instead of trying to learn some other things. Of course, a wooden train set is very educational and improve certain skills but it is important for a child to have more time for other stuff to learn than just learning through play with trains. Secondly, a train set on top of a train table would consume a lot of space inside the classroom. Children move a lot and are very active, you would not want to have a classroom where they find to tight and restrict their movement. This is the reason why there is only one train set inside a classroom and not for each kid to conserve space and to provide a movement free environment.


These are some of the many things we hope to give in teaching you how to build a train table, the advantages and disadvantages of a homemade train table, how to build a train table with drawers and other important stuffs. There are also other things you can learn on different guides available on the web and books as well.

It is just right and important for a parent to know the benefits and the cons of what they are about to build or create for their kids, what they are about to purchase or provide their kids with. Knowing this things could help you determine if it’s advantageous to your child, find out if it’s a practical investment or not at all necessary. But to put the issue in summary, the advantages of a train table and set provides easily outweighs the cons.