DIY Two-Sided Wooden Playboard

Hello, friends!

Since we are still waaaaaaaiting to hear about our court date and thus our travel dates, I thought I’d take a bit of a departure from our usual adoption updates for something a little different.  Since I have had a lot more free time than usual lately, I have been experimenting with some pre-baby DIY projects and wanted to share one with all you good people.

Play Board

This one was actually a birthday gift for my hubby.  I wanted to give him something fun and special that he could use for bonding with Baby W – something that could be just for two of them.  One thing in particular I know Alex is excited about is Legos.  Personally, my only experience with Legos is a childhood of annoyance with my male cousins for having Legos EVERYWHERE at my grandparent’s house.  Sure, they made some awesome stuff, but childhood me just remembers those sharp little bricks sticking in my bare feet.  Needless to say, I have never been especially jazzed about the Lego component of boyhood.  But Alex was that boy cousin (not mine – gross) with 8,000 Legos, and we already have a big ol’ basket full of them, waiting for little boy and Daddy hands to start making the Lego magic.

With that in mind, I thought Alex and Bdubs (and my bare feet) might enjoy one of those tables with the built-in Lego board surface, made for building right on the table.  A quick surf of the Web proved those things to be way out of the price range, and where they heck would we keep it, anyway?  We have coffee-table-turned-play-table in Baby W’s room, and I started picturing some sort of removable Lego tabletop that could sit on it.  The Internet told me again that although those exist, they are also quite pricey.  I was feeling a little defeated, when I started thinking the same thought that precedes every potential DIY success and/or failure:

Shoot.  I could make that myself.

Before I knew it, I was measuring the tabletop.  36″ x 18″ – perfect for a Lego tabletop, right?  No idea.  And so it begins.

It took until I was wandering around the lumber section of Lowes before I realized that I have never actually constructed anything from scratch out of wood.  I can crochet most anything, but recently I could barely put a bookshelf together following detailed instructions and using a pre-made kit.  Thankfully, Lowes employees are super helpful and didn’t laugh in my face when I responded with just “wood” to his question of what I was looking for.  Wood.  Standing in the lumber section.  Imagine.

I shared my vision with the him – a flat, smoothish, thin, 36″ x 18″ piece of wood to use as a tabletop play board.  He pointed me in the right direction and we were in business.  After he cut it down to size (36″ x 18″ x .25″), I asked what he would recommend for some sort of wood pieces to have as a sort of boarder.  He stored me towards some 1.5″ x .75″ pieces, and at the last minute I asked him to cut enough for both sides.  Might as well make it a two-sided play board, eh?

Photo Oct 23, 2 11 25 PM

I picked up some nails, paint and sandpaper and headed to Toys-R-Us to pick up a couple Lego boards. I decided to get Duplo-sized ones, since that is the stage our little guy is in.  Back to home – now the fun begins!

Step one was to sand everything down.  Most of it was already fairly smooth, but I wanted it extra-smooth for little fingers.

Photo Oct 23, 4 06 48 PM

My game plan was for one side to be Lego boards, and one side to be a hand-painted racetrack for toy cars.  I decided to spray paint the Lego side blue and the racetrack side green.

Photo Oct 23, 3 17 24 PM

After drying outside, I brought them inside, covered the kitchen table, and got everything ready to start nailing – the scary part.

Photo Oct 24, 8 32 00 AM

The goal was for each side of the board to have its own boarder, so I stacked up the boarder pieces like this:

Photo Oct 24, 8 41 03 AM

Then, I just started nailing it together, with one nail every few inches.  Even though the nails were long enough to go through both boarder pieces, I decided to nail it completely from both sides so it would be extra secure.  I don’t know all the technical terms, but the nails I used nails with teeny heads so they would basically just disappear into the wood to keep from catching on things.  Like tiny fingers or cute toddler clothes.

Photo Oct 24, 8 43 59 AM

Also, it helps to have a doggy co-carpenter.

Photo Oct 24, 9 42 26 AM

Once it was all nailed together, I started with the Lego side.  After much debate with myself on how to best affix the boards to the wood, I decided on Velco tabs.  I figured that would make it easier to switch out the Duplo-sized boards with regular Lego-sized boards when he gets a little older.

Photo Oct 24, 9 49 56 AMYay!  Lego side = done!

Photo Oct 24, 9 56 04 AM

Time for the fun part.  I flipped the board to the green side and used painter’s tape to tape off the racetrack.

Photo Oct 24, 10 16 08 AM

For the paint, I used Valspar paint sample cups from Lowes.  Check the discount section!  It is full of little sample cups of paint people return or don’t pick up.  The black paint sample I found there was only 75 cents!  There weren’t any yellow samples in the discount section, so that sample was a couple dollars.  I used a foam paint brush and got to painting!

Photo Oct 24, 10 20 43 AM

It took a few coats to get the black racetrack good and dark and solid.  After doing the initial loop, I decided to add a couple cross tracks through the middle.  Once that was done and it had fully dried, I pulled up the tape and was SO happy with how it was turning out!  The racetrack side of the play board started out as an afterthought, and now it is my favorite part.

The yellow center line on the racetrack took some experimenting.  I started out drawing the paint on with a toothpick, but it was too thin and pointy, and wasn’t turning out how I envisioned.  Attempt #2 was a not-too-sharp colored pencil, which turned out to be just the ticket.  Using the pencil, I basically just drew the dotted lines on with the yellow paint.

Photo Oct 24, 12 08 35 PM

And voila!  All done!  It fits perfectly on the play table in Baby W’s room and can be easily stored in the closet or under the bed.  Win!

The best part is, the hubby loved it!  He said now all he needs is bring the little guy home so they can play with it together!  Let the bonding begin!


It turned out even better than I envisioned, and I can’t wait to see the father-son bonding that will take place because of it!  Now I am thinking that, in aside from the Lego surface and the racetrack surface, there are probably a hundred different surfaces you could make to customize it for your own child.  Train tracks?  Game boards?  Dollhouse base?  Farm scene?  The possibilities are endless.

Have fun!

Play Board2




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