My son recently turned four years old and we have officially entered the era of Legos. We are all kind of pumped because we love to build. But it took approximately one
day hour to realize that one cannot acquire Legos without also acquiring a Lego management system. Fortunately there are like 40 thousand Lego system ideas out there.
But none of them were quite what I had in mind.
That’s what I had in mind.
This is the first time I have tried my hand at a midcentury look, and it was a lot of fun. You can build this desk out of basically any material you like, but walnut is kind of synonymous with midcentury design.
Erm, walnut is expensive.
The solution? Walnut veneer plywood. I first used this awesome stuff from the good folks at Purebond when I built the Fretwork Console. Jen Woodhouse’s beautiful design needed a top worthy of all that fretwork, and walnut sets off that white soooo nicely. Near as I could figure, however, walnut would set me back a whole lot of pennies. That’s when I first learned about walnut plywood. And my life has been changed forever. No joke.
I had some of that plywood leftover, so this lego table project was a shoe in. I did, however, have to order some more to make it work. The amazing people at DIY Hairpin Legs were game to give this little project their support, and I’m happy to say that six of them grace the Lego table. (Six legs!)
If all that were not enough to make this table destined to be, Remodelaholic decided to host a Plywood Pretty challenge, and the timing was so lovely that the heavens opened and angels sang for at least a brief moment. I am thrilled to participate in that challenge, and links to all of the other incredible plywood builds are included at the bottom. (And, pssst, this is one awesomely talented group of builders, so be sure to check them out.) The challenge is part of the kickoff for Remodelaholic’s week of plywood projects, which you can follow along with at the hashtag #plywoodpretty.
Enough talk, are you ready to get started?!
3 – 2′ x 4′ Purebond walnut plywood panels
1 x 6 @ 8′ poplar board (for drawers)
2′ x 4′ 1/4 plywood (for drawer bottoms)
12 – 1/4″ x 4 x 36″ poplar wood for Lego boxes
1 – 1/4″ x 6 x 24″ poplar wood for shelf
6 – hairpin legs
1 1/4″ Finish nails
1 50′ package walnut edge banding
drawer hardware (x3) (I used these)
concealed hinges (x2)
soft close lid support (x1)
1 1/4″ Kreg screws
finish (I used salad bowl finish)
4″ T-plates (for modular section) (x2)
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (I have both the K4 and the K5. Either or great, but if you can spring for the 5 you won’t regret it)
saw guide (optional)
Kreg Concealed Hinge Jig
How to build a midcentury modular lego table
My son is always asking me to build something that actually has moving parts. I think he’s going to be an engineer. This, however, is about the best I do. That end piece flips up for more Lego storage goodness. An entire section of the table detaches and can be added to the end of the table to make one five and a half foot long table.
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
24″ x 18″ walnut plywood (x3)
42″ x 18″ walnut plywood (x1)
18″ x 18″ walnut plywood (x1)
4 1/2″ x 18″ walnut plywood (6)
5 1/4″ x 18″ walnut plywood (x2)
6 3/4″ x 12 walnut plywood (x2)
6 3/4″ x 24 walnut plywood (x2)
1/4 x 6 poplar wood at 22 1/2″
1×6 poplar wood @ 22 1/2″ (x4)
1×6 poplar wood @ 16 1/2″ (x4)
21 1/2″ x 17″ 1/4 plywood (for drawer bottoms) (x2)
1/4×4 poplar @ 7 3/4″ (x16)
1/4 x 4 poplar @ 9 1/2″ (x24)
Making of…The entire build in 2 and a half minutes
Cut the plywood. Seriously, cutting the wood is like half of this build. A few guidelines:
Make your rip cuts on the table saw or with a circular saw. Veneered plywood tears out if you zip it through the saw like any other piece of wood. To prevent tear out run a piece of painters tape down the cut line. You can do so on both sides of the plywood for extra security. Whether you are using a circular saw or table saw you will want a plywood blade. These blades have a thinner kerf and more teeth. There are additional steps, such as fitting your table saw with an insert, but I find that taping and using the correct blade are the biggest things you can do.
One last thing to keep in mind: A table saw blade cuts downward, so cuts on that saw should be made with the top side up. A circular saw blade cuts upward, so cuts using that saw should be made with the face down. Tearout is most likely to happen on the side the blade exits from.
Honestly, the circular saw is my saw of choice for this type of job. Ryobi makes a sweet little battery powered saw that powered through this job like a little beast. (That’s a good thing). If you have a saw guide you’ll just measure and run your saw up against it. There are some great ones out there, but if nothing else, just use a piece of straight wood.
Take your time, measure carefully, and focus through this step.
Oh, and while you are planning your cuts consider the grain direction for your final layout. There is a slight chance that in my determination to utilize every scrap of wood I may have neglected this step, requiring some extra finagling. But I’m not admitting it if that was the case.
Dry fit everything together and mark which edges need to be banded. Edge band everything that will show, in both modular arrangements. Attach and trim according to manufacturer instructions, and sand smooth.
Helpful hint: This is a good step to do inside while listing to a podcast or something.
After the banding is applied assemble the sections using glue and finish nails.
Make the drawers. I made the drawers to fit snugly into the case openings. My wood of choice was poplar because it paints nicely. You will need to rip all of the 1 x 6 pieces down to 4 1/2″ then cut all of the wood pieces to 4 1/2″ on the miter saw. There is no need for a separate face frame or even for sliding hardware. Simple, eh? Before assembling the boxes add a groove to slot the drawer bottom into. To do this I simply set my table saw to leave 1/4″ at the bottom of the drawer side, raised the blade until it would cut 1/4″ of material, and then ran the drawer through twice with the bottom of the piece against the fence, adjusting the saw in 1/8 for the second cut so the channel would be 1/4″ and would fit the drawer bottom.
I used my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig to attach the drawer sides. I did not worry about filling the pocket holes as the Lego boxes inside the drawers hide them anyway. Ensure the drawers fit properly.
I made 8 boxes to hold the different Lego colors. My boxes are each 7 3/4″ x 9 1/2″. Obviously you can make them whatever size you like, as long as they fit inside the drawers. To construct these I simply glued and nailed the sides together, then did the same to add the bottoms. Then I painted them all different colors to help the kiddos organize their Legos.
Attach the hairpin legs. The legs simply screw into the bottom. I set mine back from the edge 3/4″ all around. This is the best step because it’s pretty well instant gratification. I got these from diyhairpinlegs.com. They have a ton of different colors as well, which was totally tempting. Next build, next build…
Attach the modular hardware. I used a couple T brackets and screwed them into the bottom of the two sections. I chose to make the top of the T the part that could be disconnected to attach to one section or the other, but I don’t think it really matters. The modular feature functions simply by unscrewing the two screws that hold each bracket and reattaching them in the other section. Boom. That simple.
Apply the finish. I recommend an oil to pop that sweet walnut grain. Yes, it is a Lego table for kids. If it’s a problem I’ll go back and put something more durable on, but so far there haven’t been any issues. Salad Bowl is my go to finish of choice when you have some sweet grain to show off.
Install the hardware. Use concealed hinges for the flip up lid. Listen, I’m not going to pull your chain. Ever remodeled a kitchen? I have, and these things suck beans.
Was that dramatic? It was supposed to be. Go, get in your car, and get the Kreg Concealed Hinge Jig. I don’t even care that I sound like a commercial. It’s a life saver. Or at least a profanity saver, and I’m really trying to quit. If you have the Jig, simply set it to the setting that is closest to the edge. Follow the instructions and it should be no sweat.
Once the hinges are attached there are three screws you can adjust to move the box lid right where you want it.
Then attach the lid support according to manufacture instructions. This one is pretty simple.
Build some freaking sweet Lego creations, you building master, you.
Here she is in all her midcentury modern modular glory:
Thanks for sticking out that long tutorial! I have to go return these kids I found wandering around and used as furniture models. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook @thecreatedhome for more unique building plans and woodworking goodness!
Annnnnnd, there’s the moment you have been waiting for…the other Plywood Pretty Challenge Builds! Check them all out and give them some love, because you are about to have your mind blown by all that plywood (and a little ingenuity) can do!
One more thing! You can also check these projects out via video. Because, let’s be honest, you probably want to do that. The entire playlist of videos is here.
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