DIY Sensory Bin Table Walkthrough

Our DIY sensory bin table began long ago, at least the idea of it did. Shortly after I started sensory bins with Bitty I got the grand idea to make a sensory table for the back porch. The idea was always for it to be outside. She would have her smaller indoor tray and then the large table outside. It also served as a way to avoid having both a sandbox and a water table for her to play in as the sensory table could do both!

title card for DIY sensory bin table build walkthrough with toddler playing at table in a green backyard with evening sun light

This post contains some affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive a small commission from if you follow and decide to purchase. There would be no additional cost to you!

If you have spent any time trolling the mama side of Instagram or Pinterest (like I have) You would have seen the IKEA FLISAT sensory table. It’s a wonderful piece.  Multifunctional and yet simple, a decent size, and it gets bonus points for that classic IKEA vibe it gives off.

But that’s not what I wanted.

Don’t get me wrong the IKEA table is great…but I wanted something a bit larger and well less IKEAy. To be perfectly honest once I get the idea that I can do something myself if it’s at all in my realm of skill and its cost effective to DIY it, I have a hard time saying no to myself. Lol

And thus began our DIY sensory bin table build.

The Source of my DIY Sensory Bin Table Inspiration

As any good Pinterst mom I have a boards full of dreams. Things to cook, vacations to take, hacks to save the day, and for me, well I also have multiple boards of things to build or make. This is where I found the plans for our table.

We were very much inspired by the table that one awesomemomma did over on her blog. It was a little classy looking while still not costing a fortune in wood and didn’t end up being a huge bulky build!

We didn’t follow her instructions exactly because we wanted to have two separate bins vs. one large bin, but the real diversions came because well…Zak got a hold of the project and he tends to go rouge.

title card for DIY sensory bin table showing a top down view of the table with empty bins

DIY SENSORY BIN TABLE MUST-HAVES

title card for our DIY sensory bin table supplies

SUPPLIES

TOOLS

HOW TO MAKE A DIY SENSORY BIN TABLE

title card for Building tips of our DIY sensory bind table showing man with nail gun attaching slats

First and foremost you will need to measure around your bins just under the lip where the lid attaches. You want this part above the tabletop so that you can get the lids on off easily!

STEP 1 – FRAME IT OUT

You are going to build two frames; one will be the top and the other will turn into the tray where the bins sit. The way that we did the corners is called at basic butt. This is where one piece runs the whole length plus the width of either end as well.

CounterSinking all the things
boards with countersink holes drilled in them

Zak has a thing for countersinking screws. I will say that they tend to look nicer than just having the screw head, BUT on this day he got a little countersink happy and tried to over-engineer…as is his style.

Quick tip: A drill press tends to chew up your board a bit, go slow or choose another method.

Attaching these and making sure that your corner is square can be done a number of ways but we had a right angle jig in the shop and that just made the most sense for us. As long as you end up with two matching frames that are square you can do it, however it suits you!

close up of the right angle jig in action
ADORABLE TODDLER BREAK
Our little helper/test subject/supervisor making sure we don’t forget why were making this table!

SLAT AND RAIL SYSTEM

After building both frames we added a sort of rail system to one to attach the tray slats to the frame. We took some of the 1×2 and laid them down running the length of the frame. Then you can lay the 1×3 and 1×2 down on top of rail system and it is flush with the top of frame!

top down view of the rail system for the slats

This created a very strong tray for the bins to sit on so I could load them up with sand, rocks, water; what ever we want and there wont be any bowing or cracking! The rail system also provided a way to attach the slats with out the nail holes on the outside (i.e. most visible part) of the table.

close up of the slats being test fit with the scrap wood

Quick Tip: Use scrap wood for spacers and dry fit your boards to make sure everything will fit before you nail anything in!

Okay this next step was a happy accident that took some fiddling. Using some scrap wood that we had laying around we created spacers for the slats! Originally we wanted to use just the 1×3 for the slats but they wouldn’t fit the way we wanted so we ended up mixing in some extra 1x2s and it worked out PERFECTLY to make a bit of a pattern. It was like we had meant to do that all along!

Using the nail gun to attach the bracers to the rain system was super fast and they were very secure! We were one step closer to our DIY sensory bin table.

completed top frame and bottom shelf for the DIY sensory bin table laying on the ground

STEP 2 –HOW TALL IS TOO TALL?

This is possibly the most custom part of this project. It all depends on how tall your little one is. You want the table to be easy to reach into but not so low that they are bending over it. We settled on the top of the table at armpit height. So if your building along, grab your tape measure and measure from the armpit down to the ground. This is how long you want your legs of the table to be!

Quick Tip: Err on the side of too tall. Kids only grow. It would be better to be a little too tall now vs. too short for the rest of their lives!

toddler standing at the side of the table
Bringing back the Basic Butt

Take your 1×2 and cut 8 matching pieces. For the frame you butted up the ends of the pieces, now you’ll be butting the long side of the piece. This also means that your legs will be 3 inches wide on one side and only 2 inches on the other. We used the nail gun again here to attach the two pieces.

top down view of the basic butt joints of the legs on the DIY sensory bin table
a top down view of how the legs are set up and attached to the frame

Quick Tip: Set your legs up so that the wider side is on the long side of your table. It will look more balanced this way!

This is where the over-engineerer slipped up.

If you’ll recall there are screws already in the frame. You can’t screw into screws… so we had to improvise. We screwed the one side and then used the nail gun on the other.  This is the part of our build that I recommend you think through better than he did and if you have a better way to attach them please leave a comment so I can tell Zak all the ways he could be smarter! Lol

STEP 3 – BRING IT ALL TOGETHER

plastic bins resting in half done table

We now have the top frame attached to the legs and then bins are able to rest on that frame!

DIY sensory bin table upside down on a work table

We found the easiest way was the flip the whole thing over slide the tray in and have the weight of the tray push the bins down and then you have just make sure that the table is sitting properly. If you wanted you could triple check with a right angle and a level but we felt that it as good to go and we attached it to the legs. Simple as that.

title card for DIY sensory bin table showing man attaching building

STEP 4 – AESTHETIC CHOICES

There was one more step on the original DIY sensory bin table tutorial though. They had added angled brackets to add stability. We honestly didn’t need the stability but I really liked how the angles looked. So we added them purely for aesthetics!

under shot of the table legs with the angled pieces to give a better idea how they are attached

Each leg has two different sized angle pieces. a longer piece for the longer side of the table and a shorter piece for the shorter side. You Could choose to have them match in size, but that would require some extra calculations to get the angles right! By using a shorter piece it also attaches higher on the leg and this way both are attached to the inside of the leg and from the outside of the DIY sensory bin table, everything looks nice and clean!

We attached these pieces with the nail gun and learn from our mistakes here. Use longer nails. The ones we used gave up as soon as I started sanding. They just didn’t go far enough into the frame and this is where the wood glue came into play.

toddler standing next to DIY sensory bin table showing how high it hits on her

At this point, the DIY sensory bin table is done! It’s not finished but it’s completely functional. This is the end of day one for us and honestly, I took a couple of week break at this point (mostly cause the weather wasn’t great…) before I got a chance to come back to finishing touches.

fully constructed DIY sensory bin table sitting the yard with backlit sunlight

STEP 5 – FILL IT ALL IN

title card for the finishing touches of our DIY sensory bin table showing a power sander sitting on the slats of the table

The finishing steps started with filling all those countersink holes with stainable wood putty. This stuff is weird let me tell you, it’s got a strange consistency and its also quite messy to work with (just a heads up). I went around the table filling all the nail holes, countersink holes and any other cracks that I thought could use a little extra love

close up of the how the legs are attached to the frame
Remember those counter sink holes. Its time to fill these babies in.

This will take at least two passes and I probably should have done three in some of the holes. After all that dries your going to want to sand away the extra and then give the whole table a good sanding.

STEP 6 – SANDING IT SMOOTH

I used our power sander, and let me tell you. If you do more than say 2 DIYs a year, go ahead and pick one of these babies up. You will thank yourself so much. I can’t believe it took us as long as it did!

After everything is sanded smooth wipe down the table with a rag to get any dust that’s left taken care of and your ready to stain!

STEP 7 – DON’T BE AFRAID OF STAINS

title card for the stain and seal tips for our DIY sensory bin table showing the wood grain on the table after staining

Quick Tip: Wear disposable gloves. This stuff isn’t meant to be washed out and you don’t want to deal with it staining your fingers. Trust me.

a close up of the wood stain used in front of a rag and disposable gloves

I picked a new color for this project and I am in LOVE. This is the most amazing mid to deep tone brown that makes the grain go really dark and it’s just gorgeous. Provincial 211 might just be my stainmate. <3

a close up of the countersink holes that have been filled
The stainable wood putty did take color but not as much as I would like so if you really want a more holeless look you may want to look into plugs. Just an heads up.
a close up of the table showing how wood glue inhibits the wood satin

Quick tip: Even after your done Sanding. Sand again. You can see that I did a poor job cleaning up the overflow of wood glue and stain doesn’t care to stick to that very well. Learn from my mistake!

STEP 8 – PROTECT YOUR TABLE

a spray can of Urethane for sealing the table

As a final step, you are going to want to seal your table. At least if you’re going to keep your table outside like we are. Normally I never seal wood projects. Maybe an oil or beeswax but I just hate the look of shiny wood, so I usually avoid urethane with a 10-foot pole. I had to give in this time because this table is going to be exposed to the elements. Both naturally and toddler induced. 

I settled on Minwax indoor/outdoor helmsman spar urethane. I’ll be honest my biggest factor was the finish. I wasn’t able to find a matte finish but I did find satin and that is almost as good! 😉

Quick Tip: I wasn’t impressed with the spray sealant. It was really hard to tell what was actually getting sealed. So if your building along. Go with a can and a brush, I think.

HOURS OF FUN WITH OUR DIY SENSORY BIN TABLE

a top down view showing our duel bin system for our DIY sensory bin table

The little lady has already spent lots of time playing with her table and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. It’s a great size and the double compartment leaves room to spread out!

Toddler playing at the side of the DIY sensory bin table

Are you a handy person? Would you take on a project like this or do you lean more towards the IKEA route?

Leave a comment down below of your favorite DIY project you’ve done. I’m in LOVE with this one right now!

DIY sensory Bin table title card with completed table in the yard
Other Posts you may like
Title card for 4 step formula for sensory bins post
4 Steps to a Sensory Bin
title card for DIY rainbow loose parts toys
DIY Wooden Loose Parts Toys
title card for Split peas sensory bin
Split Peas Forest Sensory Bin

2 Replies to “DIY Sensory Bin Table Walkthrough”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *