Make an Awesome, DIY Water Table for Your Kids This Summer
When it’s hot, outdoor activities for kids is often limited to swimming. But if you don’t have a pool or splash pad, here’s how to make an awesome water table to go along with running through the sprinkler.
To build a table using a plastic tote, you’ll need a storage bin that measures about 16” by 24”. This build is pretty simple. Cut some of your boards to build a rectangle that the tote will fit inside. Remember that measuring the lengths of your boards will require two sides to be the same length as two of the sides of the tote, and two sides will need to be the length of the other two sides of the tote, plus the thickness of two of your boards to make the rectangle fit the tub.
Then, screw the rectangle together using your drill with a pilot bit and your drill with a screw bit in it. Once you have your rectangle, add a bottom to it by cutting boards to fit across the rectangle on one side. This will hold the tub you’re using for the water.
Add legs to the table by screwing in 24” boards to the sides of the tub holder so that the top of the table will rest at 24” above the ground. (You can adjust the height of the table for the height of the kids who will be using it). For stronger legs, you can use two boards that are 24” long, joined together on edge to form an “L,” known as a hog trough. Screw these legs into the outside corners of the table to make more stable legs. Paint the parts of the table with your outdoor, waterproof paint before adding your PVC parts.
For a slightly more complicated water table with no bin, use a piece of plywood that’s 36” by 24” to form the bottom of your table. Cut some boards to make a frame that will fit snugly around your rectangle and screw the boards together to make the sides of the table. Then, place the bottom of the table on the bottom edge of the rectangle so that you have a 36” by 24” bottom, with sides made from your boards. Drill a hole with the hole saw in the plywood for the drain plug.
You can cut and attach the legs for this type of table the same way as the plastic tub version, and then use the waterproof caulk to fill in all of the cracks in the table. Paint the table with your outdoor, waterproof paint, paying special attention to the inside of the table tub. Once the paint is dry, you can do a leak-test by plugging the drain hole and adding water to the table and looking for any gaps in the caulk. Then drain the table and patch any leaky spots.
The last step for both versions of the table is cutting and fitting your PVC pipe. First, cut a six inch piece of PVC and glue the two three-way split fittings onto each end. Then, cut a length of PVC pipe for each end of the fitting long enough to reach the inside edge of the table. Add a right-angle elbow to each pipe. Attach a 12” piece of pipe to each elbow, forming an arch. Then, drill holes along the underside of the pipe that runs along the top of the arch every three to four inches with your ¼” drill bit. Finally, use your PVC brackets to attach the arch to each end of the table, leaving it clear of the bottom of the tub by about a half inch. If you’re using a plastic tote as the water tight container for the table top, you’ll need to attach the PVC brackets above the edge of the tote to avoid poking holes in it.
Last, fill the table with water and let kids experiment with pouring water into the splitters and watch it drip through the holes. Bath toys, scoops from laundry detergent containers, or plastic containers are all good water-pouring devices. Once the kids get the hang of how the arch works, you can add fittings to the splitters to make more activities for the table, like a valve that directs the water to one or the other side of the arch. Of course, make sure kids are supervised to avoid any accidents.