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Wooden train set board - very easy to make

Updated on December 12, 2013

Make it easy for young kids to play with a train set

DS1 started getting interested in trains and was given a lovely small starter Brio set. But, every time he wanted to play with it we had to set it up. And he kept knocking it over accidentally. Frustrating for everyone.

So when we decided to add to his collection, we wanted to find a way to avoid this problem. We looked at train tables, but they were expensive and as DS1 was only small, it was hard for him to reach to the middle of a large table, he just wanted to climb on top - and it didn't help with the problem of him knocking everything down.

We came up with the idea of getting a wooden board which we could slide under our sofa when not it use. We have a sofa with room underneath so this worked really well. The board could be hidden completely out of sight when not in use and quickly pulled out for play.

We came up with a solution that worked well for us. DS1 (4) is still enjoying our train board, and DS2 (2) is having fun too.

Highlighted Product: Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Set

We came up with the idea of getting a wooden board which we could slide under our sofa when not it use. We have a sofa with room underneath. If we were building a train board now, this is the set we'd start with.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set (130+ pcs)
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Train Set (130+ pcs)

This is a great starter set and includes many of the important items for a great layout.

 

Using Blu-Tack to stick the track to the board

We thought about gluing or nailing the track down, but that seemed a bit too permanent. We might want to change the layout in future. So we tried Blu Tack which worked brilliantly - firm enough to stop accidental destruction, but allows the layout to be changed in future.

We used the regular blue stuff. Note that Blu-Tack is child-safe but not recommended for children under 36 months. Make sure your children are old enough not to put stuff in their mouths if they do prise a piece of track of the board.

train train blu-tack
train train blu-tack

How we made the train board

We got a piece of MDF cut to size at a local hardware store so that part was pretty easy. We attached silicon feet to the bottom so it wouldn't scratch our floor.

It would probably have been a good idea to paint the board green at this point, but we didn't have the patience to wait.

Then came the hard part! Designing the track layout. We recommend that you practice this before starting to stick the track down. We wanted a layout with maximum interest - two levels, bridges, tunnels, junctions, an engine shed and both train and car track. Designing a track that made the most of the space and the accessories we had was a challenge - but it was fun! We bought DS1 extra track and trains for Christmas and then spent Boxing Day making the track. DS1 'helping' did slow things down a little, but he had a great time (considerable progress was made during nap time ;-)

Once we were happy with the layout, we took a photo and then started taking off one piece at a time, putting Blu Tack on the bottom and then putting it in place.

TIP: Don't push the pieces down too hard initially, you'll probably want to jiggle them around a bit to make your layout work.

Once everything is in place and you are happy with your layout, push down firmly on each piece of track.

The board won't be resistant to a child determined to destroy the track, but this approach makes it much harder for a toddler to accidentally knowing things over while playing.

The basic layout

The basic layout
The basic layout

Find out what we put on our train board

And design yours.

Some of our starter set - Brio Safari

Some of our starter set - Brio Safari
Some of our starter set - Brio Safari

Brio Light and Sound Fire Engine

Brio Light and Sound Fire Engine
Brio Light and Sound Fire Engine

Trains, carriages etc

Of course, you'll need some trains to go on your track. Our favourites for toddlers are the Brio Light and Sound range. As you might guess from the name, they make noises and have lights which adds interest. Some of them also come with Brio people and other accessories.

Battery Engine

When DS2 was about 9 months old he loved watching the battery train go round the track! These are a nice addition to a set. But make sure you get some push engines too - toddlers do like to push the trains themselves.

The tunnels (one at the back right too)

The tunnels (one at the back right too)
The tunnels (one at the back right too)

Wooden Train Tunnels

Toddlers love train tunnels! Tunnel was one of DS2's first words because he spent so long pushing toys backwards and forwards through the tunnel on our train board (not necessarily trains, any random animal was fine!). Our layout has two tunnels, a standard wooden one and a really nice tunnel with a platform on top - great for a two-height layout.

Wooden Bridges

The wobbly bridge is one of the star attractions on our train board. The kids love it and visiting children always comment on it.

Track Supports

Track supports are great for maintaining a run of track at a higher level.

Turntable

Our turntable was a Christmas present from Granny and Grandad. It arrived at just the right time to get us out of a tricky track layout situation!

The Engine Shed

The Engine Shed
The Engine Shed

Engine Shed

The engines need somewhere to rest at night. We only had room for a small engine shed in our layout, but you can get them is a variety of sizes.

DS2 didn't want the trees in the centre of the Wooden Road!

DS2 didn't want the trees in the centre of the Wooden Road!
DS2 didn't want the trees in the centre of the Wooden Road!

Wooden Road

We've found the wooden road to be brilliant for small hands. It's really good fun to mix road and rail vehicles. And the boys are always very amused by a road vehicle on the rail track or vice versa - the vehicles fit either track.

The crossing

The crossing
The crossing

Wooden Rail Crossing

One you have rail track and road, you're going to want a crossing to mix them together. Our cross has lights and makes a noise when a train passes through. This is a bit more delicate than the rest of the set and we had to put it away when DS2 was small - it's out again now he's 2 and listens to instructions (well mostly).

The crane

The crane
The crane

A crane

A wooden crane is a great addition to any train set. Ours is a big crane that the kids can wheel around. But any crane where you can load and unload cargo is great fun.

Ascending Track and Risers

Ascending track and the supporting risers are great for creating raised sections of track. We have a raised corner section leading up to the wobbly bridge. We like to load up the battery train and see how many carriages it call pull up the slope.

All aboard!

All aboard!
All aboard!

Train Station

The passengers need somewhere to get on and off. Our station sits on top of a tunnel.

Helicopter

A helicopter extends play into the rest of the room. Our engine shed doubles as a helipad.

Little London

Little London
Little London

Trees, Lights etc

Every train set needs a few finishing touches!

Vehicles and Accessories

The Plan City Series is excellent for road vehicles, people and other accessories to go with your road track. We've got an assortment of vehicles and extras from Plan and others. The people are really good for role playing. Ours regularly get stuck up trees and have to be rescued and taken to hospital.

The finished train board. Someone is eager to play!

The finished train board. Someone is eager to play!
The finished train board. Someone is eager to play!

Brio Squiddo

He he. Couldn't resist mentioning this little fellow given his name. My younger son got this from his Auntie. It's not on the train board, it's nice to have some track that the kids can build and this is a lovely colourful set. It's definitely quirky, but we like that.

First Train Set: Squiddo
First Train Set: Squiddo

Well Squiddo is so close to Squidoo - I couldn't resist!

 

Add to your wooden train set on eBay

To build up our collection, we bought a train set from eBay. The seller was a young boy, who we met on collection, who had outgrown his wooden trains. We got a great collection of pieces much more cheaply than they would have cost new. Yes, they had been well used, but we quite liked that.

We added to the collection with new pieces and were given pieces as gifts. It's quite nice to have a train set that has been accumulated in this way.

Let us know what you think. And if you've enjoyed finding out about our train board then please click the thumbs up at the top of bottom of this page.

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      Tawee 2 years ago

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      Walaa 2 years ago

      Oct31 SuviHi Joel! Your blog and book is so inspiring, i relaly like it! Brio is relaly popular all so in Finland, my generations think that wood is the best material on the toys. My kids is playing with my 24 years old Brio toys, and they all look like a new, just like your Brio :)Reply

    • profile image

      Hetham 2 years ago

      Oct31 SuviHi Joel! Your blog and book is so inspiring, i ralely like it! Brio is ralely popular all so in Finland, my generations think that wood is the best material on the toys. My kids is playing with my 24 years old Brio toys, and they all look like a new, just like your Brio :)Reply