DIY Sensory Table – From an IKEA Table

In my process of playroom planning I decided I wanted a sensory table.  I  thought that it would be great to have in the summer to bring outside.  I am dreaming of summer right now!  I looked to see the cost of different sensory tables and of course most were over $100.  So then I set off to Pinterest to find some inspiration for a DIY sensory table.  A lot of the inspiration came in the form of building your own.  I try to avoid anything where I really have to use too many tools or build from scratch.  After looking at some of them I didn’t think that they looked all that different from an old table I had from IKEA in our basement.  I tend to save all of our unused furniture in case I come up with a purpose for it.  Glad I found a purpose for this thing!  My idea was to cut out a hole in the table and drop a bin in it and use it for the cover.  The height of the table was about perfect at 18 inches off the ground so I decided I didn’t have much to lose and why not try it!

DIY Sensory and Water Table - Pink Oatmeal


Plastic Bin With Cover (size should fit within table parameters)
Measuring Tape
Straight Edge
Saw (Jigsaw Preferably)
Since I already had everything except for the plastic bin the total cost of this project for me was $5 for the plastic bin I bought.  We were able to borrow a saw from a friend as we have limited tools around this place.  The great thing about this project is that even if you don’t have a table already they are CHEAP!    They run from $9.99 to $19.99 for different tables that would work great for this project.  Much better than the $100 price tag to buy one yourself.
First thing we did is decide how we wanted the bin to sit in the table.  I wanted to be able to put the cover on and our bin had a little edge that jutted out. I decided that would be the perfect place for the bin to rest on the table.
Then we had to take the measurements around all four sides of the bin making sure to measure along the area that we wanted to go in the whole so our bin could rest nicely on the table.
Once we had the measurements of the bin we had to measure the table to get it centered.  For our particular setup we had to come in 3.5 inches from the front and back and 7 inches in on each side.  We marked it out at all four corners and took a straight edge and connected the corners by drawing lines with a pencil.

At this point you should have your box drawn on the table and be ready to cut.  The easiest way to cut would be with a jigsaw.  We had to use a skill saw as it was the only saw we had available.

I was nervous to see how everything would turn out and if the sawing would work.  I was afraid the table was just going to fall apart!  I was so happy when the sawing was done to see that it worked like a charm!  The hole looked great and the table didn’t fall apart! I now also knew what the inside of an Ikea table consisted of.

To be safe we sanded down the corners so that it was nice and smooth around the hole.  It only took a second to do this.

Now it was time for the moment of truth dropping the bin into the hole.  I was going to get to see what kind of sensory table this was.

It worked perfectly!  C is too small right now to use it but by this summer it will be a great option.  I may even paint it if I get ambitious as the table is a little old.  I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out.  I can’t wait to fill it with different things for C to explore. This project took a whole 10-15 minutes to make.  Totally worth it!


We’ve been using the sensory table a lot this summer.  We are using it as our water table too and it has been working great!  So glad that we made it.  I love that I can take the bin in and out and interchange it as well.

DIY Sensory/Water Table - Pink Oatmeal


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17 thoughts on “DIY Sensory Table – From an IKEA Table”

  1. This is awesome! What a great idea!! This would definitely come in handy in my therapy room – I’m always sliding sensory bins around on top of my table with groups of kids…just waiting for one to spill all over the floor! 🙂

    1. Thanks for visiting! I hope you get the chance to make it. It’s so simple and would hopefully save you the troubles!

  2. Hi ,

    Can I please ask you how does this help a child ? I mean what is a sensory table, and what toys do you put in it?

    Thank you

  3. A great idea! We have a train table in our basement that we were going to sell but now maybe not! It would have to be stationary though and be played with only when down there but still love the idea!!

  4. Love the table…my boy is four and having some sensory issues. We are going to make this soon. Where did you find the bin? Thank you for sharing.

  5. When using water in the sensory bin, did it not deteriorate the table. I have quite a few LACK tables from Ikea and know that they can get water damage. Just curious as to what your experience was with it. Definitely going to try! Thanks!

    1. I can see why you think this and I wondered too, but I actually haven’t had any issue. That being said it never really sits soaked in water. When we are done playing I wipe it off. I have had people say they’ve put a shower curtain over it and slid the plastic bin in to avoid risking it at all.

  6. What a simple yet wonderful idea. I was also thinking I could have different bins for different uses (water /rice/sand etc) and keep in garage, changing out for variety or need (which if you mentioned, I apologize).

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