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Lego Tables & Lighting (Teaser)

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Lego Tables & Lighting (Teaser)

Postby Peppermint Pig » Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:41 am

I didn't know where exactly to post this particular topic... (feel free to move, mods!)

This is a preview of the work I've been doing this month in the construction of a DIY (Do It Yourself) lighting setup for lego photography, as well as the fabrication process for my very own set of Lego work/hobby/display/show tables(!!!), using a somewhat new design standard and some added features that you may like!

I hope to publish a more complete document with blueprints and full pricing on materials, but I really wanted to get this out here early and get some feedback.

First, the lighting:

I started out by purchasing ~8" dish clamp/work/shop lights (~7 USD), which are really cheap and useful. I also decided on two half inch pipe clamps, which will run you about 11 USD each, and a length of 1/2" pipe for each clamp (about 7 USD each). With these, you can mount the clamps to tables, and have a vertical pole with which to attach the lighting.

The clamps: ... B0000224CA

This site shows the clamps and lights in action:

Given I was investing in the pipe clamp solution, I figured why not implement some way to attach a lightbox setup to the 1/2 pipe, so I decided to create my own.

I bought some aluminum flat rod (3/4" x 1/8" x ~5'), and cut it down into four 14 inch segments to create an articulated arm, and created a few tiny plates of the same material, and attached them with L brackets to create a T shaped arm in order to attach my lightbox. I used a regular plumbing support clamp with a 3/8 thread to attach all the aluminum rod to the 1/2 inch pipe. On the end of the T, I attached a household window screen frame, and replaced the (insect) screen with hemmed ripstop fabric (parachute nylon) to function as the lightbox diffuser.

People remodel their windows all the time, so you can get, for very cheap or even free, used insect screen window frames that are perfect for this kind of application. You probably don't even need to go through the hassle of building a mounting system for them and can prop them up with cheap spring claps sitting flush on a table. ( ... =100027346 )

Photos: ... ing_01.jpg ... ing_02.jpg ... ing_03.jpg ... ing_04.jpg ... ing_05.jpg ... ing_06.jpg ... ing_07.jpg ... ing_08.jpg

I'll post more about the lights later...

The Tables:

I tried hunting on craigslist for some tables, but did not have any success. Living up north, we get a long snow season, and I was adamant about having a table available before the first snow, so I decided to give my amateur carpentry skills a workout!

I've read quite a bit about Lego table standards that the different LUGgers use, and I was disappointed to see a lack of consensus on the subject. They had different preferences on height and leg design, amongst other things.

I decided I would build two 30.25"X60.5" tables and two 30.25"x30.25" square tables.

I was mostly inspired by the following site:

Unlike the instructions in the previously mentioned website, I pre-drilled all of my screw holes with a smaller drill bit to ensure there would be no wood splitting. Otherwise, I basically hunted down the same type of folding legs for the construction of my long tables, and built with 3/4" Birch plywood.

Home Depot website has these legs for sale at about 16 USD a pair (waddel mfg. folding table legs). They stand approximately 29" tall, which basically determined the standard I would use. With a piece of wood attached, my tables would reach approximately 30" in height, and I could always adjust with a few sheets of cardboard if need be.

Now, here's where my innovation comes in. For the tables to be truly modular, there needed to be a way to connect the tables together for shared support/stability and precision to ensure flush connections, and opening up the possibility for attaching train controller/mindstorms cpu 'dashboards', or creating unsupported wooden 'bridges' between two tables to support light weight structure spans.

I drilled 3/8" holes at specified locations along a 4" framing that hangs just below the table surface and purchased 2" long 1/4" diameter bolts and wingnuts to tighten the tables together.

This framing not only serves to reinforce the rigidity of the 3/4" plywood, but it also conceals the fold-up legs from view when stowed away, making it perfectly easy to stack and store the tables without worry.

Here are some photographs of my table work: ... ble_01.jpg
4" Framing ( Eight 4" X 28.75" 'shorties' for all the tables, four 4" X 30.25" 'longs' for the 30.25"x30.25" tables, and four 4" x 60.5" 'longs' for the 30.25"x60.5" tables. ) ... ble_02.jpg
Table surfaces. Two 30s, and Two 30 by 60s, and a bit of scrap. ... ble_03.jpg
Bolts, screws. You need a LOT of screws to get things done. At least three boxes (225) of screws should do it. ... ble_04.jpg
One table down, one to go!! ~6" spacing between screws, with no screws at the corners so that the framing can be screwed in from the side using a basic butt joint (that's why I cut so many 28.75" 'shorties'). ... ble_05.jpg
Framing of the corner tables. I use 2" 3/4 plywood (remnants/scraps) to build the frame. I got lucky and found some unused treated deck beams from an old deck we took apart. They were outside and would have rotted away if we didn't use them. ~2"x2" wood poles would have worked just as well. Ours are slightly rectangular, so I had to work with it. ... ble_06.jpg
A 30x30x30 table is not the easiest structure to transport through your typical home, so the surfaces of my tables come apart from the support/base, and fit snugly into these leg slots. ... ble_07.jpg
I was stumped at first for how to build the legs on the corner units, but once I had decided the general idea, I figured it would be nice to take advantage of the space below and create shelf space. Here I use 1/2" Plywood. A 5'x5' sheet is sufficient for the production of 3 shelves divided amongst the 2 30x30 tables. The first one is done with a whole piece, the second one done in 3 parts, and a third shelf done in 4 parts (bracing beam encouraged for these last two). I used the 'whole' shelf on the table that would only have 1 bottom shelf, so it's sturdy and solid enough to bear the weight of most tubs.

The table with 2 shelves has exactly 10" of space/clearance per shelf.

And that's all I have for photos so far.

The tables are currently being sanded down and prepped for painting. I also took the liberty of routing a curved lip on the outside bottom of the frames for all of the tables so that lifting them up does not pinch one's fingers (routers = awesome).

I'll be using oil-based KILS to prime and oil-based finishing paint. For color, all the framing and lower shelves will be painted black (Perhaps not the best choice, but classy looking, methinks), while the table tops will be painted to official Lego blue, described as Pantone 293 C. I consider blue to be the most useful/flexible color. If I ever do another set of tables, I would consider tan, green, or any of the other colors I've mentioned in a certain dear Lego 'roll up baseplate' thread.

Your comments or questions are appreciated and will help me to build a better document/guide on how to build your own. More details and photographs forthcoming!
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Postby JoshWedin » Fri Sep 28, 2007 6:55 am

They are looking good. You've done a lot of work, and you're right, routers are awesome. ;)

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Postby Peppermint Pig » Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:01 am

Thanks. I'm quite happy with the results so far. I'm in the carpenter's 'zone'.

Here's an update! Just my luck, we've had some humid, rainy days this week and it has been slowing down the paint progress. Nevertheless, the paint is going on!

Here's a little rewind: ... ble_08.jpg
The 2 Shelf corner table. You might notice some spaces where the shelf meets a table leg. I jigged out the space at those locations, so that the shelf fit like a puzzle, snugly, and I later filled those recessed spots in by gluing in fitted wood blocks. ... ble_09.jpg
Here's a shot of the fold-up table legs for those who may be interested. The legs are positioned about ~1.5" in from the sides, and spaced 5" from the ends. That allows the legs to be as close together without rubbing up on one another. All of these pieces have been routed at this point. ... ble_10.jpg
Primer. After priming the legs, the fitting for the table top is too tight, so I'll have to sand off the tops again. Earlier on, I shaved off some material to make fitting the parts together easier, 3 inches from the top. Given the framing is 4 inches, that means the last inch of the table leg secures the top from any possible shaking. ... ble_11.jpg
Masking Tape. I'm masking off the top boards, which means covering the 3/4" sides, so I can paint the framing black. When the tables go side-by-side, having a little buffer of surface paint on the sides will eliminate any distracting contrasts that black paint would have created if I simply painted the entire side. That's my new puppy in there. :) ... ble_12.jpg
And the black paint goes on! It's still drying, actually. I may have to do a second coat, but I'll wait and see how they look in the daylight.

That's all for now!


Due to small bumps in the primer coat (maybe I didn't use enough??), I had white spots and some areas that just didn't feel fully covered with the first coat of black. I just applied a second coat. It's taking a little over 24 hours for each of these coats to finish.

No photos to show at the present... I hope to start applying the blue paint on sunday, hopefully with a single thicker coat.


Two coats of blue have thus been applied. Second coat is drying. May need a light third coat. They look very good, and very blue!! Photos soon!


The tables are in my room under bright light, which is heating the room to allow for the finish to cure better. The color is 'slightly' darker than blue bricks we've compared it with, which could just mean that the guys who mixed my paint got it wrong, or that the pantone color is not accurate. Even so, the surface is fairly smooth. My hope is that the surface becomes hard enough to take any potential abuse. Once I get access to my laptop, which is in the shop now, I will update the photos.
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Postby Slobey » Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:08 pm

As a carpenter by trade all I can say is those are some nice tables. Sure feels better making something than just buying it, you get what you want and you have only yourself to blame if you don't like it. :D
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Postby Asterios » Thu Oct 11, 2007 4:51 pm

yeah but sadly those tables are long gone due to size and todays economy friendly cars,not sure anyone in BayLug has a vehicle big enough to haul those suckers anymore.
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Postby Peppermint Pig » Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:39 am

Slobey wrote:As a carpenter by trade all I can say is those are some nice tables. Sure feels better making something than just buying it, you get what you want and you have only yourself to blame if you don't like it. :D

As a carpenter by circumstance, I really appreciate that! Besides supplies (which are getting costly lately!!), a little patience and a good plan is all you need. :)

Asterios wrote:yeah but sadly those tables are long gone due to size and todays economy friendly cars,not sure anyone in BayLug has a vehicle big enough to haul those suckers anymore.

That's unfortunate. Most of the LUGgers just rent trucks and tables then? The fold-up 30x60 is really ingenious and I hope my design has advanced the standard. :)

I think that a smaller flatbed truck could easily carry the wood itself. That or a car with pull-down seats and a rear hatch... My long tables can be easily carried by 2 people and the square tables break apart and can be stacked diagonally together for efficient storage. I cannot, however, move the table tops upright due to the narrow doorways in my house, so transport of massive models would be a little tricky.

SG and I have a relatively small collection by AFOL LUG standards. I hope, maybe in a year or so, to actually do some local showings. Thing is, we don't know any AFOL's besides the husband of our local Bricklink supplier. I know there's a mindstorms/robotics fanatic in a nearby county, but we've never spoken. Considering we don't typically travel very far, I wonder if a LUG composed of Vermont and New Hampshire fans would be good since NELUG members seem to be everywhere AROUND the periphery of the territory they claim to operate in.

I've been busy lately, so I'm not sure when I will have all the specs and pricing done. I'm finishing a pair of DIY boxes for the lightbox setup right now, so everything is close to coming together.

Here are the latest photographs: ... ble_13.jpg
Masking tape, with strips of newspaper acting as a protective drape around the black sides. ... ble_14.jpg
More blue! ... ble_15.jpg
The tape comes off! I had a few minor bleeds of paint, even though the tape was pressed down hard and made seamless. I may have to investigate if there is a masking tape better suited for oil paint. You wouldn't notice any such problem unless you were looking for it.

Tables in my room with Lego :) ... ble_16.jpg ... ble_17.jpg ... ble_18.jpg


There's a fold-out love seat positioned evenly so that when folded out, the end of the bed fits between the builder's sweet spot, acting as an additional seat if one wanted to use it.

That's it for now!!

I intend to purchase several sterilite drawers and create at least one floor to ceiling storage tower in a month or two. Maximize space usage in the room. Should have more photos when that time comes.
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