Squirrel Tracks Wooden Trains

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Please note: all products Squirrel Tracks Wooden Trains sells are for children (and grownups) ages 3 and up.

Everything we sell is compatible and interchangeable with the
BRIO® and Thomas & Friends™ brands of wooden trains and accessories.

Our “Information and Ideas” Pages:
The Basics, Layout Ideas, Layout Examples, Free Train Table Plans, Books about Trains, Famous Squirrels

New Item!  From the creative minds at Squirrel Tracks
The Busy Little Engine DVD Front Cover
click to enlarge
*Parenting Magazine’s “Best DVD” (July, 2006). Click here to see more reviews.

“The Busy Little Engine™” DVD
"It's a very busy day in Dinkytown...." A little wooden train is pretending to be a real train, but he doesn't know much about what real trains do - he's only ever seen them at crossing gates. With some help from the Narrator and lots of imagination, the Busy Little Engine and his friend, Pig, have a lot of fun learning about what trains do all day!

Running Time: Approximately 34 minutes, plus extras
Recommended Ages: 2-6 years old


See fun movie clips, screenshots, hear song clips and more on Busy Little Engine’s own website!
(The shopping carts on this site and that one are shared, so you may pick items from either site and pay just one shipping charge)

Free Plans and Notes for Making a Simple Train Table



The Plans


Click here for the complete plans and instructions in PDF format



Simple Train Table Plans
click to enlarge
Our Simple Train Table design makes a 53” long by 39” wide by 16” high table that will fit most any wooden train layout. The play surface is 52”x38” and there is a half-inch lip around the edge to catch runaway trains. There’s plenty of clearance under the table (11”) for storing extra trains in store-bought plastic bins if you wish.

This train table was designed to be simple. One sheet of half-inch plywood, some scrap 2”x4” lumber, some screws and some paint is all you need. Well, that, some tools, and a free afternoon...

Measuring and cutting: Start by measuring the length of the play surface (52” in this case). Don’t measure or mark anything else yet. Then cut the plywood sheet where the plan says “Make this cut first!” Cut all the way across the plywood sheet. Then cut where it says, “Make this cut second”, again cutting all the way across the sheet. Doing these two cuts first will make life easier in terms of measuring things out and not cutting into a piece that you don’t want to cut into. After that, you can measure and make the cuts in any order you wish.

The end pieces of the table incorporate the legs. As noted on the plan, the cutout between the two legs of each end piece can be any shape you wish. You could cut half circles, or angle the legs so they are broader at the top than the bottom. Do whatever pleases you. As marked in the plan, the cutouts would yield simple, straight 5” wide legs.

Simple Train Table - Top View
(top view)
After all the pieces are cut and sanded smooth, cut six 4” lengths of 2”x4” lumber. All the screws used to assemble the train table will go through the half-inch ply and into the 2”x4”s. There will be one 2”x4” in each corner and one at each end of the brace. The 2”x4”s hold the table frame together and support the play surface. The play surface does not need to be screwed down.

Assembly: It’s a good idea to apply a bit of Elmer’s® or similar wood glue between any two pieces you want to screw together. Screws and glue together make for a very strong joint that will withstand lots of pushing, pulling and leaning-on.

The quick way to screw the pieces together is to use drywall screws and simply drive them in where you need them. Since you’re not counter-sinking screws with this technique, the surface of the ply crushes a little bit and occasionally exposes a short splinter around the screw head. Be sure to remove any splinters. The proper way to screw the pieces together would be to pre-drill and countersink the holes and then use wood screws. You can buy a countersink bit at any hardware store for a few dollars. Save a step: some countersink bits drill the screw pilot-hole at the same time they countersink!

Screw one 2”x4” on each end of the same face of the side pieces (“side 1” and “side 2”) so that the narrow face of the 2”x4” rests on the face of the side piece and the broad face of the 2”x4” is flush with the end of the side piece. When the table is finished, the 2”x4”s will sit one inch below the top of the sides and end pieces, so position them accordingly before you drive any screws. (Read that over a couple of times if it’s not clear at first!) When finished, the 2”x4”s will support the half-inch play surface and leave a half-inch lip around all the edges.

Simple Train Table - Underside View
(underside view)
The cross-brace is a little different.. Screw the remaining two 2”x4”s on opposite faces of each end of the cross-brace with the broad face of the 2”x4” resting on the face of the brace and the narrow face flush with the end of the brace. Because the brace is 4” wide, the ends of the 2”x4”s on the brace should be flush with the sides of the brace.

We recommend painting everything before the final assembly. Our favorite colors are green for the play surface and white for everything else, but you can, of course, do anything you like. Adding a blue pond or river (a simple circle or line) or a patch of brown for sand can really bring the play surface to life.

Once the 2”x4”s are in place and the paint has dried, you can do the final assembly. The easiest way to get the tops of the sides and the tops of the ends to match up is to assemble the table upside-down on the floor (or workbench). The side pieces will end up with their outer faces flush with the sides of the end pieces. (Again, it might be helpful to read that over once or twice.) The brace supports the play surface by spanning the width of the table about halfway along the length of the table. Like the 2”x4”s in the corners of the table, the brace should sit one-inch below the tops of the side rails.

After it’s all screwed together, lay the play surface in place (no need to screw it down), get out your trains, and enjoy! We’d love it if you sent us a picture of your finished table.

Train Table in Action
(Why is this kid standing still? No trains!)

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Additional Notes

• You can use the less expensive B/C grade plywood if you like, but it will probably require a lot more sanding to get nice, smooth edges.

• This plan can be adjusted fairly easily to make any size train table. Sides 1 and 2 should be the same length as the Play Surface. Ends 1 and 2 should be one inch wider than the Play Surface. The Brace should be as long as the Play Surface is wide.

• If you have some experience with carpentry, you might notice that the measurements for Side 1 and Side 2 on this plan don’t allow for the width of wood that “disappears” when wood is cut due to the thickness of the saw blade. Technically, Sides 1 and 2 would come out to somewhere between 4 15/16” and 4 7/8”. As long as the table is constructed with the top edges matching all the way around, it doesn’t much matter if the height of the side is 5” or 4 7/8”, so for the sake of simplicity we just called it 5”.

If you have any questions or comments about this train table or anything else, please let us know. We love to chat about wooden trains and kids! Email Pa Squirrel at desmond@squirreltracks.com or Ma Squirrel at helena@squirreltracks.com.

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3-D Models of the Table

Pa Squirrel made some 3-D models of the Simple Train Table for fun. If your browser has the “QTVR” (QuickTime Virtual Reality) plugin or a VRML plugin such as Cortona then you can view these. If you’re not sure if you’ve got these plugins, it won’t hurt to just click a link below and see - the worst thing that might happen is that your browser will tell you it doesn’t know what to do with this kind of file.


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