Saturday, November 9, 2013

DIY magnetic train board

Levi is currently LOVING playing with his "toot toot". (Thats what he calls his train set he got last year).
I love seeing him creatively play with it. It is adorable.
The one thing I don't like? How the pieces come apart and he screams in frustration because he's not quite old enough to piece the track together. Frustration for all.

I love the many train tables that are available for kids, but they are pretty pricey and take up a LOT of room. Room we don't have. Plus, I don't know how long he will be in his "toot toot" phase.

So I had seeen on Pinterest ideas for train boards. Basically taking plywood, painting it and then screwing the train tracks onto the board. The great part? It can just slide under the couch for storage.
The part I didn't like? The fact Levi wouldn't be able to move the tracks and items around when he gets a bit older.

I had also seen on Pinterest the idea of buying a giant Oil Drip Pan from the automotive section at Wal Mart and using it as a magnet board.

So I just merged the ideas together!

So here's how I did it;

You can buy the drip pan for around $12 at WalMart. An amazing price considering its size,
Layout your train set and make sure it will fit the way youd like it to be set up.

I then hot glued magnets to the bottom of the tracks.
No, it isn't a permanent way to keep the tracks together, but it does help and I want Levi to be able to recongifure it (rumor on the street is his grandma is getting him some more train pieces...)
So I hot glued magnets on all the pieces and also numbered them in the order of putting the set together. I don't know why I didn't do that sooner....makes it MUCH MUCH easier!
I then took all the pieces off and spray painted the drip pan a fun green.
I wanted it green to look like grass, but not a dark green. I wanted it fun and cheery.
Here is the spray paint I used
It was like $4 at Wal Mart.

My next step was making accessories for his landscape.
I used some odds and ends I had in my craft stash.
I took blue foam and cut the shape of lakes and ponds, then hot glued magnets to the back.

I also cut out bushes from green foam and stiff felt. Attached magnets and glued some colorful buttons on a few to look like flowers.

It was still missing something.
So I headed to Hobby Lobby to find some buildings and trees to add some dimension.
I forgot to take a picture, but I got 2 already painted trees. A 6 pack of wooden unpainted pine trees I painted and a 4 pack of unpainted wood houses I painted as well.
I hot glued the trees and houses to some foam and then hot glued magnets to the foam.
They stood up! I was a little nervous about that!
I think it looks much better with the trees and houses. And I know Levi will love arranging them!
The hard part is going to be waiting til Christmas to give to him! It's hidden under our couch until Santa brings it to him next month.
I can't wait!!!


  1. Hi,

    What is the measurement if the drip pan? Also, how well do the magnets hold the train set together? I want to be able to add pieces later but need it to be stable enough, so my son doesn't get frustrated> I want to make this as a Christmas gift. Thanks

  2. The drip pan measures 47" x 25". It's pretty large.
    And the magnets do a good job of keeping the track more together, while still being movable. Levi will surely be adding to his train set and I didn't want to do anything permanent with the tracks, but wanted them to stay together a bit better. Another option would be using velcro, but I liked that the magnets could be used anywhere on the pan. Hope that helps!

  3. I made this for Christmas and it turned out great. Thanks for the info, wish I could post a pic

    1. Awesome! I'd love for you to email me a pic!

  4. I have been searching for an idea like this thank you so much for posting. God Bless your beautiful family!


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