Learn how to build the framework to support a large plastic bin, and create a fun activity center for your backyard.

Step 1

Measure to Determine Cut List

Measure the dimensions of your plastic bin. Ours is 32-quarts measuring 23-5/8” x 16-3/8”. To ensure that the lip of the bin will sit on top of the wood frame, use the dimensions of the bin's base which is 22-1/2” x 15”.

The entire frame for this toddler-height activity table can be cut out of two 2x4 boards.

Develop a cut list. To fit the specs of our bin, our cut list is as follows: 

•    (3) 22-1/2” boards

•    (4) 15” boards

•    (4) 18” boards

The 10’ board was cut into (3) 22-1/2” pieces, (2) 15” pieces, and (1) 18” piece. The 8’ board was cut into (2) 15” pieces and (3) 18” pieces.

Step 2

Create Pocket Holes

A jig isn’t necessary to pre-drill pocket holes, but it makes the job a lot easier and the holes more accurate. Add one pocket hole to the each end of the 15” boards and two pocket holes to each end of the 22-1/2” boards.

Step 3

Sand All Boards

Sanding along the surface and across the cut ends of each board helps to smooth out any splintered pieces. Use a palm sander to make the process easy.

Step 4

Prime and Paint

It’s easier and faster to paint to prime and paint all boards before you assemble the frame. Use a paint roller for fast and consistent coverage.

Step 5

Use Pocket Screws to Build Two Ends

Assemble the two ends of the frame first by joining the vertical 15” boards to the horizontal 18” boards. 

Step 6

Attach Horizontal Cross Braces

The two ends of the frame will be joined using the 22-1/2” boards. To form the top of the framework that will hold the plastic bin in place, extend two of the 22-1/2” boards between the corners.

Step 7

Install Third Board to Reinforce Base

The third 22-1/2” board will fit along the base of the frame, promising to keep the legs of the table square with the ground, and the structure strong and wobble-free.

The overall frame size measures: 25-1/2”L x 18”W x 22”H

Step 8

Create Inset Area for Bin

At this point, the frame of your table is ready for use. Check to make sure the bin you have slides into the top opening and sits comfortably on the edge of the frame.

If you want the bin to be inset into the table, this is the most efficient time to route the top edge of the table. Remove the bin and cut a 1/2” x 1/2” ledge into the inside top surface of the table with a router and a rabbet bit.

Step 9

Touch Up Paint

Sand the edges where the router splintered the wood and then use a brush to do touchups on the finished paint.

Step 10

Fill and Play

Fill the table with sand or water and toys, and let your toddler play! The lid that came with your bin will double as a cover to keep sand clean. Empty any water and refresh between uses. The empty bin can be used for convenient toy storage, too.