A train table is a piece of furniture similar to a coffee table, but it is used by model train enthusiasts for operating toy model train sets. Rails are laid out on the table top and the train operates around a circuit of track on the table top. It used to be common to set up model train sets on the floor – even carpeted sections of floor. Today it is preferred to use a table as the train platform so the child has a dedicated space with a stable surface.
Typically per-assembled simple train tables costs from about $75 to $250 dollars; however, a simple but study single level train table can be built with simple hand tools and about $20.00 to forty dollars of supplies in a few hours. For most beginners a 4 foot by 8 foot top of 5/8th inch thick plywood is recommended. For the top’s stabilizing frame and the table’s legs, sections of 2 by 4 boards cut to length are commonly used. For the adult users the legs should be long enough that the top of the table is about 48 inches above the floor. For child users the legs can be shortened to accommodate their small stature. The legs, shelf, drawer front and the exposed sides of the frame are usually painted a solid color.
If space in really short supply it is possible to build the legs that are attached to the table top with hinges but without the drawer and central shelf. This style of table can be easily stored away on its side with the legs collapsed.
If desired, a sliding drawer can be built into the table to place the train, track, and accessories when they are not in use. Also, a shelf placed half way up the legs will add stability and can store more accessories.
The utility of the table as a “train table” can be greatly enhanced by landscaping the surface. Even simple flat table tops can be covered with model train “grass.” Lakes and streams can be painted on and highways laid out and painted. Track crossings can be laid out and wooden bridges can carry the tracks over the streams. Some model train table engineers have been known to cover the pained lakes and ponds with glitter to simulate light being reflected from windblown waves. The tracks can be laid out to run alongside painted paper mache hills and even pass through paper mache tunnels. At hobby stores it is possible to purchase small houses and buildings, trees and brush to add even more realism to the model train hobby experience.
Even preschoolers can enjoy playing with train sets laid out on simple homemade train tables. As the children grown older, even when they have turned into adults they may still treasure their train tables and their hours of enjoyment operating their train sets.