How to Build a DIY Sand and Water Play Table for Kids

How to build a DIY Sensory Table with Water Ramps

Kids love playing with water. Whether it’s in the bathtub, running through water puddles, or simply splashing in the pool. Water play stimulates their senses (touch, sound, sight) and is oftentimes calming. There are many different ways kids could play with water and one of them is to build a DIY Sand and Water Play Table. Follow the plans I created to build this project.  

This table is specifically designed for 23″ x 16 1/4″ x 6″ totes to hold water or sand. The upper section of this table is designed to add adjustable water ramps on the eye hooks. Once the ramps are connected, insert the funnel into any hole on the top board. Then using a plastic cup, the kids would pour water into the funnel and watch the water run down the ramps into the totes. And repeat the process by filling up the cup with water and pouring it back into the funnel. Kids would do that for hours. 

If they are done playing with water, you could easily remove the ramps and fill the totes with sand. Or even the combination of two; sand and water. Kids love playing in the dirt and get their hands muddy.

You also might be interested in free plans for Kids Table and Kids Bunk Bed.

How to build a DIY Sensory Table with Water Ramps

Time to Complete

14 hours

Total Cost

$100

Skill Level

Intermediate


Sand and Water Play Table for Kids PDF

$6.00

This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.

The plans are embedded on the webpage for free, but if you would like to support the website, you can pay a small fee to purchase the printable PDFs.

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DIY Sand and Water Play Table for Kids

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Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.


Dimensions

DIY Sensory Table dimensions

Step 1 – Cut Boards for the Upper Water Table Bin Frame 

For this project, I used regular construction lumber that could be bought at local hardware stores such as Lowes or Home Depot. Since the wood will be exposed to moisture, you could use pressure-treated lumber or regular lumber with a coat or exterior urethane.

Start by building the upper bin frame to hold 23″ x 16 1/4″ x 6″ totes. Take 2×6 board and cut two boards to 18″ in length and two boards to 21 1/4″ in length. Set your Kreg Jig to 1 1/2″ wood thickness and drill two pocket holes on the ends of the 21 1/4″ boards. If you’re using different size totes, you’ll need to adjust accordingly. 

upper frame boards for DIY Sensory Table
boards for upper frame for DIY Sensory Table
using kreg jib to drill pocket holes for DIY Sensory Table

Step 2 – Assemble the Upper Bin Frame

Join the boards together as shown in the picture using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Use pipe clamps to hold the boards together when driving in the pocket hole screws. This will prevent the boards from shifting and misaligning. 

upper frame boards attached for DIY Sensory Table
using wood glue to attach boards for DIY Sensory Table
upper bin frame for DIY Sensory Table
attaching wood for DIY Sensory Table

Step 3 – Cut and Attach Legs to Upper Bin Frame 

Now take 2×6 and cut four pieces to 24″ in length. Attach the legs to the frame using 2 1/2″ wood screws from the inside. The screws on the inside will be covered by totes. 

legs attached for DIY Sensory Table
attaching wood together for DIY Sensory Table

Step 4 – Build the Bottom Floor of the Bin Frame 

To build the bottom floor, take 1×6, and cut two pieces to 21 1/4″ in length. Then take 1×4 and cut one piece to 21 1/4″ in length. Set your Kreg Jig to 3/4″ wood thickness and drill two pocket holes on the ends of these boards, both 1×4 and 1×6. Flip the bin frame upside down and attach the 1×4 and 1×6 boards using wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. There will be about a 1/4″ gap between 1×4 and 1×6 boards. 

bottom boards attached for DIY Sensory Table
attaching bottom pieces for DIY Sensory Table
bottom boards of the upper frame for DIY Sensory Table

Step 5 – Cut Boards for Lower Sensory Bin Frame 

Now that the upper bin frame is complete, it’s time to build the lower bin. For the lower sensory bin table, cut two boards to 28 1/4″ in length, one board to 18″ in length, and one board to 15″ in length. Drill four pocket holes on the 15″ board, and two pocket holes on the 28 1/4″ boards, only on one end, as shown in the picture. 

DIY Sensory Table lower frame boards
assembling lower bin frame for DIY Sensory Table

Step 6 – Assemble the Boards for Lower Bin Frame 

Now connect the lower bin frame together using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Similar to step 4, cut the bottom 1×6 and 1×4 pieces to 21 1/4″ in length and attach it with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws as shown in the picture

The lower bin frame will have two legs on one side and the other side of the frame will be attached to the upper bin. 

Take 2×6 and cut two legs to 18 1/2″ in length. Attach them with wood glue and 2 1/2″ wood screws from the inside.

DIY Sensory Table lower frame boards attached

Step 7 – Attach Both Upper and Lower Bin Frames Together

Stand the upper bin table on a flat surface. Then slide the lower bin table under and attach it with wood glue and 2 1/2″ wood screws

lower and upper frame attached for DIY Sensory Table
lower and upper bin from for DIY Sensory Table

Step 8 – Cut 2×4 Support Boards for the Bottom Shelf 

Under the water play table build a shelf to store kid’s toys and cups.

Take 2×4 and cut three pieces to 18″ in length. Drill two pocket holes on each end. Then on the two end boards drill two perpendicular pocket holes. These two holes will be used for screws that hold the support for water ramps. 

lower and upper frame attached for DIY Sensory Table
DIY Sensory Table bottom shelf supports

Step 9 – Attach the Side Water Ramp Support Boards 

Using 2×6, cut two water ramp support boards to 48″ in length. Then find the center on both ends of the water table and attach the ramp support pieces to the shelf board with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws to the bin frame with 2 1/2″ wood screws. See picture.

side water ramps attached for DIY Sensory Table
DIY Sensory Table

Step 10 – Build the Bottom Shelf Under the Water Table

Take 1×4 and cut five pieces to 48″ in length and place them under the table on top of the 2x4s. Attach from underneath the 2×4 with 2″ wood screws.

side boards attached for DIY Sensory Table
bottom shelf for DIY Sensory Table
bottom shelf boards for DIY Sensory Table

Step 11 – Attach the Top Board With Holes for the Funnel

The top board that sits on the ramp support boards is designed to hold a funnel where kids could pour water into. Having several holes spread out throughout the board allows kids to insert multiple funnels at different locations depending on the elevation of the ramps.  

Using a 2×6 cut the top boards to 51 1/2″ in length. Measure and mark 6” from both ends of the board for the first two hole locations. Then the second set of holes will be 13” further. So you’ll have a total of 4 hole locations on the top. Depending on your preference you could change the count or measurements of these holes.    

Drill these four holes with a 1 3/4″ hole saw bit per dimensions shown in the picture. Once the holes are drilled, attach this top board to the ramp supports with 2 1/2″ wood screws. You might have to predrill the pilot holes for these screws to prevent the top board from splitting. When the screws are too close to the edge of the board, it’s always a good idea to predrill the pilot holes.

top board with holes for DIY Sensory Table
drilling holes for funnels for DIY Sensory Table

Step 12 – Cut Boards for the Water Ramps 

I designed this sensory table with three different water ramps. These ramps are made to overlap onto each other so that water could run down through the ramps into the totes. You could either make these ramps the same dimensions I used or make your own lengths. Each water ramp consists of a bottom and two sides built from ¾” thick boards. 

First, cut the bottom water ramp pieces using 1×4 boards. Since we have three ramps, cut one piece to 27″, one piece to 40″, and one piece to 42″ in length. 

The side pieces are going to be 1 1/2″ shorter than the bottom pieces. So cut one piece to 25 1/2″, one piece to 38 1/2″, and one-piece 40 1/2″ in length. Then take these side pieces and rip them in half with a table saw

Next, take the bottom ramp pieces and drill pocket holes as shown in the picture using a Kreg Jig set to 3/4″ wood thickness. 

water ramps for DIY Sensory Table
boards for water ramps for DIY Sensory Table

Step 13 – Assemble the Water Ramps

Match the correct side pieces with the bottom board and attach them together with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

water ramps for DIY Sensory Table
attaching water ramps sides for DIY Sensory Table
water ramp for DIY Sensory Table

Step 14 – Stain and Seal the Sand and Water Play Table

Before attaching cup hooks on the water ramp and eye hooks on the ramp supports, make sure to stain or paint everything. 

For this project, I decided to use Sunbleached Stain, but you could change it to any stain you want. After the stain dries, apply a few coats of ultimate spar urethane with UV protection. Due to outdoor conditions and moisture, the Urethane will help with the durability of this project. 

Step 15 – Attach Cup Hooks and Screw Eyes to the Water Table

Once the stain dries up, attach two 3/4″ cup hooks on each water ramp. 

Next, attach screw eyes #10 on the sides of the water ramp support every 3 inches. See the picture for details. Having the screw eyes at different elevations allow you to adjust the ramps at different slopes. You’re done with a DIY Sand and Water Play Table for Kids.

cup hooks on water ramps for DIY Sensory Table
screw eyes for DIY Sensory Table
attaching cup hooks for water ramps on DIY Sensory Table
attaching eye hooks for DIY Sensory Table with water ramps
DIY Sensory Table with water ramps

Frequently Asked Questions

2 thoughts on “How to Build a DIY Sand and Water Play Table for Kids”

  1. I don’t see any mention of the liner tubs used.
    It seems like it would be very important to know the exact sizes of the tubs first.

    Reply

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