DIY Convertible Sand and Water Table With Beer Cooler Option

9 Materials
2 Days

Most days, I'm desperate to keep my three-year-old son quietly occupied while I wrangle my newborn or get work done. Sensory bins are a great option, but Evan's ability to keep rice confined to a plastic tub is spotty at best.

Most sensory bin activities involve making a mess – that's part of the fun!

Never heard of a sensory bin, you say? Allow me to share God's gift to moms everywhere...

The sensory bin concept is surprisingly simple: pour one kind of raw material in a bin, and let your kids manipulate it in 500 different ways. Sensory play engages their motor skills, ability to focus, and imagination. The only rule is to keep the contents of the Tupperware in the container. Here are just a few options:

  • bubble foam with a 2:1 ratio of water to bath soap, whipped to perfection
  • rice + measuring cups
  • a "car wash" for toy cars
  • a mud bath "demolition derby" for toy cars
  • sand + beach toys
  • play dough
  • science experiments (think vinegar + baking soda, salt + ice melt)

My DIY Sand and Water Table Design 🥚

I designed this table to hold two under-the-bed, 28 qt Tupperware containers. My son is tall; the final height measures 24 1/2 inches. I also added a beach umbrella to block out the sun since Georgia summers can get quite hot. The table is sealed with two coats of exterior paint, followed by a few pretty colored paints that I had in the garage.

The entire structure is made out of scrap wood and pocket hole joinery, making it an excellent option when you're stuck at home!

Checkout the video tutorial at the end of this post wherein you can see my son's reaction to the table reveal!

My advice would be to keep a few extra bins handy for after the kids go to bed, fill them with ice, and throw in a few brewskis to celebrate a well-earned break.


Convertible Sand and Water Table Plans

The good news is that I've taken out the guess work for measuring your table top trim. The plans below will accommodate two 28-qt bins perfectly. In case you own a few bins in a different size, here's how I calculated the fit.

Once you've made all of the cuts for your table top, secure the pieces to each other using pocket hole joinery. It's very important to use clamps during this process, as the pieces will have a tendency to "jump" while you're drilling in your pocket screws.

Here's what it should look like finished.

Next, assemble the carcass or leg framework. Secure the 1x4 apron to the legs with pocket hole joinery. To give the aprons a recessed look, I used a piece of scrap 1x4 as a spacer. Once again, clamps are your best friend.

Once your legs are screwed to your aprons, attach the entire framework to your table top using the remaining pocket holes.

Fill in any blemishes with wood filler. Sand, sand, sand until the entire piece is free of splinters. Especially where there are sharp corners.

If an umbrella is desired, drill a hole in the center piece using a drill and spade bit in the same diameter of your umbrella pole. I opted to seal the piece with two coats of exterior white paint. I realized just how thick this stuff is when I tried to wash it off my paint brush...what a gooey mess!

Want to save this build for later? Head on over to Top Shelf DIY to download the free printable plans!

As you can see, my son was happy with the final product.


Suggested materials:
  • (1) 2x4 @ 8'
  • (3) 1x4 @ 8'
  • (16) 1 1/4" pocket hole screws
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Top Shelf DIY
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Diana Runs with Scissors Diana Runs with Scissors on Apr 11, 2021

    Can you imagine a similar construct with a hinged lid over the top of it just to keep your drinks cool on one side and your clean picnic supplies on the other? Attach a Command loop hookon one end for a trash bag. That would save so many steps taking things outside for people to enjoy. And it would be a sneaky way to have it out there already before they arrive!

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  • James Silcott James Silcott on Apr 05, 2022

    Your use of pocket screws shows how versatile that form of wood joining is. That is probably the only way that an average diyer would be able to construct a frame of 1x4 wood and make it strong enough to function. Your use of wood glue also strengthens the joints.

    The only thing I would suggest and this could even be added to your complete table as well as any future projects. Come up about a third of the way from the bottom of the legs and add a brace all the way around, from leg to leg. If you use the same 1x4 wood, and fasten them with the same pocket screws, they will add a great deal of strength, with out adding a great deal of weight. The braces should be vertical, 4 inch way up and down. The end braces will be flush with the legs, the side braces can be flush with inside, flush with the outside, or somewhere in the middle. Wherever you think they look best.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Apr 20, 2022

    In the project description it says that Tupperware containers were used.

    In the materials list, it says that Sterilite containers were used.

    'Just to clarify, these two brands are not the same, in composition and quality.