How to Build a DIY Water and Sand Table from 2x4s

See how to build your own DIY water and sand table with interchangeable bins with lids! The best part is the whole sensory table can be made from 2x4s.

Every year we have backyard parties for our kids’ birthday parties.

Eileen plans tons of themed games and ties all of the yard toys into the theme of the party (check out our son’s puzzle party). 

But what do the kids always end up playing with?

The water table. Water tables are such a hit for kindergarteners and preschoolers – I know our son could play with one all day.

This year, we decided to DIY a water and sand table, with bins that you can easily swap out, clean, or dump out.

It was made from all 2x4s which fits in perfectly with this month’s At Home DIY challenge – What can I build with a 2×4? Be sure to scroll to the end of the post to check out everyone’s projects!  


DIY Water and Sand Table

First I sketched out a 3D design of what I wanted the table to look like. Here’s what I came up with:


It was a fairly simple design, comprised of two H shaped legs connected by some cross pieces. I made sure that the sensory play table design was large enough to accommodate two large plastic bins at the top.

Tools and Materials

  • 8′ 2×4 boards (5 pieces)
  • Kreg pocket hole jig
  • 3″ deck screws
  • 3″ pocket hole screws
  • 3′ bar clamp (can do without clamp, but really helped to secure structure for pocket hole joining
  • Countersinking bit (helps prevent wood from splitting from deck screws)
  • Storage bins with lids (2 needed, approx. 22″x16″x6″)
  • 100% tung oil (or your preference of waterproof sealer)
  • Miter saw (hand saw works too if you don’t mind the work)

To join the 2×4 pieces, I wanted to use pocket holes as much as possible. This would allow for an aesthetically pleasing design with no visible screw heads on the exterior surface.

It was time to cut the 2x4s to length. Based on my measurements, I only needed 5 pieces of 8′ 2x4s. My miter saw made this task a breeze. I just followed the dimensions in the design and I was done in no time at all.

Here is a color coded diagram showing the required 2×4 cuts for this project:

Here are all the cut 2x4s ready to be assembled into a sand/water table:

To assemble the wood, I started with the H shaped legs.

I first drilled the necessary pocket holes using my handy Kreg pocket hole jig:


Next I set the pieces of the leg in position, clamped them together with a long bar clamp, and inserted the pocket hole screws:

The pocket holes made for a very rigid leg.

After the legs were assembled, i started joining them together with some cross pieces of 2x4s.

I found it easiest to turn the legs upside down and attach the table top 2x4s first:

I attached the table top 2x4s to the legs with long deck screws, as seen below:

To avoid splitting the table top 2x4s, I made sure to pre-drill the holes with a countersinking bit:

Here’s the top of the table attached (albeit upside down at the moment):

Finally, I attached the last 2×4 cross piece joining the bottom of the legs together. This piece would help stabilize the legs and prevent them from bending inwards. I joined it to the legs with some pocket hole screws.

To get the last cross piece flush with the legs, I clamped on some scrap wood to serve as a temporary guide:

Construction of the sand and water table was complete at this point. The last step was waterproofing it with two coats of pure tung oil:

The sensory table was now finished. I added some storage bins at the top, and just needed to fill them with sand and water. The storage bins were roughly 22″x16″x6″. This was an ideal size to comfortably fit 2 bins in the table.

This project was very quick and cheap to make. It took about 2 hours, and cost less than $15. It would have been free if I had some extra 2x4s lying around, but sadly my scrap wood collection had dwindled.

I can’t wait for our next party to try out our new play table. I’m sure the kids will find it a huge hit!





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