DIY Sand and Water Table Tutorial


I found this terrible sad coffee table at a garage sale with my mom in June.  I figured I could paint it and it would look good in our living room.  Then I thought, “Do I want just one more thing in the house for Cole to climb on and jump off?”  I decided that I wanted to turn it into a super fun sand and water table. 
This was a very cheap project because the lady sold the table to me for a dollar.  The tubs were about 15 dollars all together and the spray paint was about 15.  Altogether around 30 dollars isn’t bad considering the ones sold by school supply stores around hundreds.  This could be used in a classroom or the backyard.  It also is a quick project.  We cut and painted it one evening.  
This was the perfect height for Cole and he has already had lots of fun playing in it.  We are thinking about making a lid eventually and I am open to ideas for the best way.  You still have time to make one before it gets cool outside.  I am sure there are other things besides sand and water to put in it so please leave comments with your ideas.  Also let me know about your DIY projects for the kiddos in the backyard.  I would love to check them out and possibly feature them on my blog.
Here is how we did it:

Here is the before.  We took the tubs from Lakeshore (Click here to see where we bought the heavy duty bins).  If you don’t buy them here, they need to be heavy duty and have a lip at the top so that they won’t just drop through the hole in the table.  We are going to paint last but I kinda sanded in between Dane cutting the holes to make it smooth and splinter free.
We put the tubs where we wanted them and traced around the bottoms with a pen.
Hey Colar Bear!  You can kinda see the lines where we drew the first box on the table.
Make your first cut with the drill so that you can get the saw in there.


Use the jig saw to make slow straight cuts.  This is where the husband comes in.
All done with one side.  Sand the edges really good
This was after both sides were done.  As you can see some more cutting had to be done.  Keep cutting a little bit at a time until they fit in snuggly.
We had to add some small grooves with the saw because the tubs had these surprise extra pieces on the side.  It worked though.  Just mark it with the pen.
I had to spray mine off really good after all of the sawing was done.  It was still super dirty from the garage sale too.
I waited for a long time before I painted.  Make sure it is completely cleaned off and dry.   I use Krylon paint and primer spray paint in true blue.  Remember to start spraying and do small sprays instead of long steady ones.  This usually prevents those annoying runs and drips.  I did two coats and used two cans all the way up.  Wait until the next day to put the tubs in so that the  table is totally dry.
Put the tubs in.  This might take some muscle but you want them to fit pretty tight.  My tubs bowed out a little bit but not bad.  I was scared to cut again!
All done!  It’s so pretty now.  That lasted about five minutes until the little Mr. came to play with it.
I think the possibilities are endless.  I would love to hear your ideas for other things to put in the tubs for playtime fun.  Please share.
This sand came in a 50 pound bag for less than five bucks.
Wow that water got dirty in a hurry.  It will have to be poured out often.


  1. LizaGeeLoves3 says

    Hi! I have an idea, back to the cutting and tracing part. Instead of tracing the bottom of the boxes, What if you took the top of the bin, put a sheet of paper over it, and traced where the opening is (the inside – which would leave space for the lip)? Then copied those outlines to the table?

    We are a bit saw-challenged in this household…so I think we’re a one-and-done cutting job family. Maybe that would help us! I have an awesome IKEA double coffee table (the little side tables are like $5; this is a one-piece that is two side by side, we found on the street on trashday new) which would work great. I would be using it inside my house for kinetic sand. Say a prayer for my floors.

    My girls just can’t get the concept of building INSIDE a tub (sandbox, etcetera) – maybe having the tubs inset with the table as your design features, would help mitigate spilled sand and clean up, and give them lots of space to design!?

    Also, don’t be afraid to dye your sand. I have some powdered tempera I bought for this reason, but there is no washable version of powdered tempera I can find. So…maybe try some washable wet tempera (very cheap at teacher supply stores by us), add to sand, and then have a little one break it all up into soft sand again when it’s dry?

    Thanks so much for the idea!! 😀

Leave a Reply

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