We have had this table for almost a year now, so I thought I would give you an update to my previous review. This table is AWESOME! Sooooo glad we bought it, as it has become the center of my son's play universe. Trains, blocks and marbles, cars, duplo blocks, pretend play with dinosaurs and stuffed animals... no matter what the activity, this table is almost always involved. I had no idea it would become so central to my son's life. It is his space. The split in the birch top? A fascinating beginner marble run! My son spent hours pushing marbles along that split. The latest use of this table? Draping a large blanket over it and hiding inside the table 'fort' (a very small one, however, so don't expect to join your kid under there... at least not comfortably). We love, love, love this table, and I often think about how this may likely be the best toy/play-related purchase we have made and will ever make. I am serious! The table still looks great, despite some love starting to show up on our protective finish, and is definitely sturdy. Should the table top become too beat up at some point, we will just flip the top pieces over to reveal the currently hidden (and thus in perfect condition) undersides and wait until those surfaces are beat up before refinishing it. That will be years from now, however, as I am not too picky about some pen marks and scratches. In our small home, I love that this table creates a place that we can centralize toys and get things off of the floor (I store toys in a closet and rotate what we have out on the table). So happy with our purchase. Can't recommend it enough.
I am very happy with this table. I wanted a train table that was real wood so that it would be durable and could be refinished (if need be) so that it could be used for years to come and be passed on to other families when we are done with it.
A few things that would be good to know before buying:
* The table is not finished (no protective coating, just bare wood). You could leave it like this, and it looks great like this, but I was worried about it being ruined by water from a stray sippy cup, or a child's artistic efforts with a crayon or marker, so my husband finished it with about three coats of Varathane Diamond Polyurethane in Satin and it looks fabulous - you can hardly tell that it has a finish on it, it has no chemical odor from the finish, and now I have some peace of mind that it will be protected to some degree.
* The birch top does match the maple legs and sides. The colors of the two woods are a perfect match (in my opinion).
* The split in the birch top seemed a bit weird at first, and yes, it is an obvious split and the two pieces have a bit of wiggle room, so they can shift around a bit and have a slight gap in the center or the sides, depending on how they are sitting. However, this hasn't bothered me like I thought it might. I don't really notice it, it hasn't affected the function of the table (at least for how we use it - trains, blocks, cars, etc), and once there are toys on there, you notice it even less. One nice thing about this top is that you could replace it pretty easily if it somehow was wrecked. Or you could easily replace the two pieces with a single piece cut for you at a hardware store if you wanted to. I like it as is, though.
* The table is very easy to put together, but helpful to have two people so one can hold things in place. The instructions say to hand screw it together (not sure why), but that was taking forever, so my husband just used an electric drill to finish it off when he saw how I was attempting to assemble it. Much easier and sturdier :)
* This truly is a very sturdy table. It has a crossbeam that goes down the center of the table lengthwise and is screwed into the two end pieces, and then there are some wood dowels that go on top of that in the opposite direction and plug into the sides. At first, when we put the birch top on the dowels, there was some spring to it (you could kind of bounce the top on the dowels, like it was floating a bit), but with a few toys on there, it is stable and doesn't do that.
*Be prepared for a huge presence in your room. I am mourning the lost space in my living room and trying to figure out how I can arrange things to fit it in my son's room instead. This would be easier if the whole point of a train table didn't involve empty space around the entire perimeter of the table for kids to walk around it, kneel, etc (meaning you can't just push it against a wall, you have to take that space around the table into consideration).
* Ikea 10 gallon Sortera bins work fabulously beneath this table to store train set pieces and other toys if you cannot afford the matching bins for this table. They slide very well on carpet (as opposed to some fabric boxes I tried to use first) and have a slanted front for easier access to contents (you don't have to pull them all the way out to get stuff). I just store the lids in a closet in case I ever need them, should I decide to use the bins for something else.
I am super impressed with this table. It was worth the money, even though it didn't come with a train set like those boxed train table sets at Costco and the like. I bought a simple nuchi set with a couple of extension packs, which is fine for a 2 year old. We can add on as we go. So I am definitely spending more money this way, but it is worth it to me to have a table that can be used for many years to come and be refurbished as needed, rather than get something that cannot be refinished if it gets scratched up, stained, etc. I wish it had come with a finish on it already, but I can see how some folks might want to keep it completely bare, and others might want to paint it to match a room, or stain it, etc. Just keep in mind that if you were to stain it, you could run into issues with the birch and maple absorbing the stain differently. My father, who loves wood projects, highly recommended the type of finish we used, and I am very impressed at how clean and natural the finish looks - it didn't alter the color at all, and the satin finish barely reflects any light and thus usually looks like it isn't finished at all. Very pleased. I highly recommend this table.