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I'm looking to make a 40" by 28" table for a six year old. I would like to use 1/2" plywood for the top and for two shelving units attached below. Those shelving units will also serve as the front two legs, one on each side. Would 1/2" be sufficient for strength and stability of the table? I would rather not use 3/4" only because I would like to be able to move it more easily.

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    Weight difference for a 4x8 sheet is 40.6 to 60.8. You're talking about 1/4 of a full sheet so 10 pounds compared to 15 pounds. 5 pounds is the difference, roughly. parr.com/PDFs/PG_plywoodthickness.pdf – user20127 Dec 23 '14 at 1:30
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Is 1/2" plywood sufficient in strength as a table top 40"x28", given an appropriate support structure beneath? Absolutely.

That being said, you want to make sure that your design incorporates support in multiple axes of stress as well as twist & shear.

Avoid large overhangs with such thin plywood, and consider building up the edge with multiple layers to decrease flex.

Rabbets (rebates for the UK folks), dado's (dadoes?), a pin nailer, screws, glue, some trim.. epoxy coating for durability..

Heck, include a pocket or a chute along the back to sweep loose lego into and you'll have one happy 6-year-old! :)

  • Thanks for the input on having a pocket. I was going to cut out rectangles to put storage drawers in and now I know I need to make it flush or under the surface of the table so that Legos can be swept into it. – tazboy Dec 23 '14 at 15:48
  • Instead of putting boards under for support could I attach them to the side of the plywood? I would rather do that to cover the edge of the plywood. Do you have any ideas for a quality support structure? – tazboy Dec 23 '14 at 15:50
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    Well, yes, you'd want to trim out the edge of the plywood in any case, to cover up any voids or splinters. And it will stiffen the top considerably, if you use say 2" x 3/4" hardwood on edge, mitered at the corners. As far as designs for a support structure, hit your local library and look for magazines with plans, such as Wood magazine, Popular Woodworking, or similar. You'd be building two small cabinets and a table top. – TX Turner Dec 23 '14 at 16:05
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Thin plywood is likely to be too flexible by itself. I think you'll want to run a couple of boards across the space under it, at least. Remember that any kids' furniture is eventually going to be climbed upon; you don't want to underdesign it.

  • Instead of putting boards under for support could I attach them to the side of the plywood? I would rather do that to cover the edge of the plywood. – tazboy Dec 23 '14 at 15:49

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